Customer Loyalty "Under Assault," Expert Says

Although companies are sitting on a gold mine of customer data, new research indicates brands are not leveraging that information as a strategic asset to build and measure customer loyalty.

That was one of the primary findings that emerged in a joint research report titled "Making Every Interaction Count: How Customer Intelligence Drives Customer Loyalty" issued by loyalty marketers association Loyalty 360 and marketing services and technology company Acxiom at this week's Loyalty Expo in Orlando, Fla.

In a survey of 129 B2C and B2B companies conducted last month, approximately 84.5 percent of respondents report using customer retention marketing strategies, but less than half actually believe their strategies are working. About 5.4 percent admit they do not evaluate customer retention efforts at all.

"Customers [have] unlimited choice and unlimited information…loyalty programs are under assault," notes Tim Suther, a Loyalty Expo keynote speaker and chief marketing officer at Acxiom. "New strategies are required."

According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents have less than 20 percent of their employees dedicated to customer retention. There doesn't appear to be a holistic view of the customer or where their loyalties lie in the enterprise, either.

About 40.2 percent of companies surveyed access customer data disparately through different lines of business. Only 34.8 percent report having central access to data for customer intelligence purposes.

"Effectiveness goes up when you integrate loyalty data with other customer data," advises Pamela Prentice, chief researcher at SAS, noting that only 36 percent of companies integrate their loyalty data with other avenues of customer data. "New customer sovereignty [through things like social] means the customer is more fickle. It's hard to hold onto them."

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