Last year Brits spent nearly £1 billion for love on Valentine’s Day. Whether their efforts were reciprocated, we’ll never know, but following weaker than expected December sales many retailers will be looking to capitalise on the lucrative love market next month.

However, while spousal loyalty may remain high, the relationship between consumers and brands is not looking so healthy this Valentine’s Day. We recently carried out research that revealed that 92 per cent of consumers would cheat on their favourite retailer with a competitor. While this might start out as just a fling, it could turn into something more serious. So, what are the six tell-tale signs that your customers might be about to leave you – and what can you do to make them love you again?

1. They’re shopping less often and their basket size is shrinking

You’ve been seeing each other for a while and things have been going well, but suddenly your data is telling you that your customers aren’t making purchases as often as they used to. When they do shop, they are spending less. Is it just timing, or have they been tempted away by a competitor?

Tip: Two-thirds of consumers would spend more if their favourite retailers understood their individual needs better, so double-check your data and use it to reach out to them with something relevant. Make them feel special and let them know you’re there for them.

2. They’ve stopped opening your emails

At the beginning of the relationship, your customers were usually opening your emails. You had segments with super-high open rates, and click-through rates were soaring. As they’ve got comfortable with you, they’ve stopped looking at those emails, or even worse – they’ve unsubscribed.

Tip: 60% of consumers admit they would spend more if their favourite retailer communicated with them better. Reduce your communications to timely, meaningful and relevant messages.

3. They don’t trust you with their data

Despite shopping with you regularly, customers are still checking out as a guest rather than setting up an account, or when they shop in store they are declining the opportunity to receive their receipts via email. Are they just not ready to commit, or do they not trust you to protect their data?

Tip: 77% of consumers admit they would spend more with their favourite retailer if they trusted them more. Make sure that they know their data is safe and make it clear how you intend to use it.

4. They’re not earning or redeeming their loyalty points

Your customer has taken the next step in your relationship and signed up to your loyalty programme, but they’re not earning or redeeming their points. Are they finding it too much like hard work to participate or are they just not seeing the value? If they’re not engaged with your programme, how can you show you appreciate them? How long then until their heads are turned by another brand?

Tip: Three in four consumers admit they would spend more with their favourite retailer if they were rewarded better. Help your customers understand how your loyalty programme can benefit them, by explaining it both online and in-store.

5. They’re complaining more

The cracks are starting to show in your relationship and customers are making complaints – both in person and on public forums such as Twitter. Whether they are just pushing your buttons or are disappointed in your customer service, negative reviews and postings will have a damaging impact on advocacy for your brand.

Tip: 78% of consumers would spend more if their favourite brand’s offering was consistent and reliable. Aim for a seamless customer experience across on and offline channels to limit the potential for complaints, and if they do occur, make sure you are responding in a timely way.

6. They’re being courted by your competitors

As time goes by, you might find yourself getting jealous that your customers are window shopping or opening emails from other brands. Is it just a bit of harmless flirting, or are your customers really planning to shop elsewhere?

Tip: Half of consumers would spend more if their favourite brand treated them with more respect. Don’t take them for granted. Make sure you are recognising and rewarding them as valued customers and giving them a unique customer experience they can’t receive anywhere else.

It won’t always be possible to stop customers from leaving you for a competitor, but by knowing the signs to keep an eye out for, you can try and save a relationship before it’s too late. Any long-term relationship requires work and a commitment from both sides. The same applies to retailers, who need to take the time to really get to know their customers, build trust with them, and then reward them in new and exciting ways, not just for Valentine’s Day, but all year.


By Jason De Winne, general manager at ICLP

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