A larger solution strategy is required to ensure audience loyalty when such difficulties and problems happen as described above.
And there is no single solution that will work for everyone, unfortunately. But there is something to be said about the small gesture that is consistent across your audience base. And there is also the idea of a visible loyalty program and an invisible loyalty program.
A visible loyalty program is one we all know and love or loathe. This is where your audience can see the rewards that their continued interaction and ‘loyalty’ will give them. It’s still a very powerful tool, especially when gamified.
The invisible loyalty program uses the mechanics and motivators of surprise, mystery and curiosity. The audience isn’t overtly aware of the invisible program, but they do feel the effects of it.
The invisible one is also not dependent on long-term loyalty, though it should reward that as well. The purpose of an invisible loyalty program is to reward simple loyalty, be that for a single interaction, a few interactions or a great many interactions over a longer period.
Having an invisible loyalty program in place as an organisation you can already take into account the budget and cost of maintaining it. A very simple example of the invisible loyalty program concept is the free drink at the end of a meal at a restaurant. You as the customer went to the restaurant to have a meal, regardless of the overall experience, good, bad or mediocre, the owner or otherwise offers you a small drink at the end of the meal, on the house (i.e. free). Now, this is a small gesture that has long-term ramifications on your impression of the restaurant. Unless the food was truly inedible, your experience will be left on a high thanks to getting a small glass of some kind of free alcohol/drink.
Now, this free drink has already been calculated into the restaurant’s cost and budget. And the volume at which they purchase these makes the cost almost negligible, but the good faith it can generate in a (loyal) customer is priceless. And the customer is never aware of this, not really at least. They are now more likely to return to the restaurant because their perception has been influenced positively.
It must be said though that this small gesture must be accompanied by actual good service, a holistic plan to offer the best service possible within reason and budget. There’s no point offering a free drink at the end of the meal if the food was inedible and the orders were wrong and it took longer to order the food than it would have to grow from scratch. However, if that type of negative experience is solitary, then the free drink as a way of apology and compensation can also have a strong positive influence.
What I want to illustrate with this analogy or parable is that a well-thought-out, planned and crafted loyalty program, both visible and invisible can do wonders for your organisation, and it does not need to cost exorbitant amounts of money to make it a reality.
And we haven’t even touched upon engagement strategies like gamification that can even further improve your audience’s view of you. Nor have we looked at where else such solutions could work, for example at conferences or other virtual and live events.