This interview is part of our Moving Forward Blog Series, where we ask major brands how they’re adapting to changing consumer expectations from a loyalty perspective post-pandemic.
When most of America hunkered down at home in March when the pandemic spread across the country, officials at Sleep Number encountered some immediate problems due to their stores being closed.
Since Sleep Number’s featured product involves seeing, feeling, and testing out in stores, company officials adapted quickly and found success during a challenging time.
We caught up with Lisa Erickson, Sr. Director Loyalty & CRM, Sleep Number Corp., and here’s what she had to say:
- Changes to Sleep Number’s selling model since the pandemic started
- The importance of health and wellness and the key role that sleep plays
- Deepening customer relationships through its engaging InnerCircle Rewards program
- What customer loyalty will look like in the future
Jim Tierney: How has your company performed since March and what customer insights have you gleaned?
Lisa Erickson: The start of the pandemic was tough since most of our stores were closed.
We sell a premium product that our customers want to try out in our stores, as well as experience the fabulous selling process we have in our stores to find them the right sleep solution.
We were able to quickly transition our selling models to allow our sales professionals to sell from home, drive more sales to our website, and ask customers on our website if they would like a call back from a sales professional.
This new model worked well for us.
Jim: Listening to your customers is a top priority. How has that changed, if at all, during the pandemic?
Lisa: The pandemic has stressed the importance of health and wellness and that sleep plays a very important role in your overall health.
This positioned Sleep Number well since we are a health and wellness brand focusing on sleep. And with our SleepIQ platform, we can provide better sleep.
So, our customers wanted content that helps them with their overall health and wellness, as well as educate them about our SleepIQ features that can help them make the best decisions regarding getting their best sleep.
“We want to help our Loyal Insiders sleep their best and live a healthy life. Asking them for feedback also keeps them engaged. The more engaged with the brand they are, the more likely they are to become our best brand advocates.”
Jim: Having loyal customers is always important for brands. As brands slowly emerge from the pandemic, what are your customer loyalty goals?
Lisa: We want to help our Loyal Insiders sleep their best and live a healthy life.
Our InnerCircle Rewards program is really an engagement program that rewards them for staying engaged with our brand by reading content on sleep, health, and wellness as well as how to get the most from our products.
Our 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ technology, provide each sleeper with adjustable, personalized comfort for proven quality sleep.
Providing them content to help them make adjustments when needed is key to our success.
Sharing Insider stories and tips keeps them engaging.
Asking them for feedback also keeps them engaged. The more engaged with the brand they are, the more likely they are to become our best brand advocates.
Jim: How is Sleep Number responding to consumer behavioral changes and how can the brand leverage these changes to attain greater loyalty?
Lisa: The pandemic has made consumers more aware of the importance of sleep.
Sleep Number is well-positioned as the only bed that can prove quality sleep through our SleepIQ technology to support this.
Sleep not only helps with recovery but also with staying healthy and we leverage content to help deliver this.
Jim: Are there any specific changes or updates you’re planning to make to your loyalty program?
Lisa: Keeping our Insiders engaged with our brand is key. Therefore, we will continue to grow our content and provide it more frequently.
As people move up in the tiers, we will add more reasons for them to continue to stay engaged and more benefits.
“Customers want quality products from brands they can trust and that give back to the community.”
Jim: What do you think customer loyalty will look like in the “new” retail reality?
Lisa: Customers want quality products from brands they can trust and that give back to the community.
We have a high-quality customer experience and will continue to improve upon that. We are making strong improvements in our e-commerce experience to make things more intuitive.
We will expand upon our Donation component within our InnerCircle Rewards program.
Building lifelong relationships with our Insiders is something we do well and will continue to make investments to elevate this.
Jim: What is the most important thing retailers can focus on for the rest of 2020?
Lisa: Keeping the promises they make to their customers by not only providing quality products but also trust.
The entire customer experience from research on the web, to sales, to delivery, to service must excel.
“Our Insiders in the program appreciate that we are not simply trying to sell them more products. They like that we are providing them with valuable content to improve their overall health and wellness of which sleep is a major component. We are giving them something back and rewarding them for engaging, not just for spending more.”
Jim: An attractive loyalty program can be a key differentiator for a brand. How can a loyalty program spark engagement and increased revenue as the country slowly re-opens?
Lisa: Keeping our Insiders engaged with our brand through our InnerCircle Rewards Program is invaluable to our company.
It is building strong brand advocates to help drive our referral business.
Our Insiders in the program appreciate that we are not simply trying to sell them more products. They like that we are providing them with valuable content to improve their overall health and wellness of which sleep is a major component.
It shows that we care and are committed to them. Doing this naturally increases our repeat sales as well as referrals from them.
We are giving them something back and rewarding them for engaging, not just for spending more.
Customer engagement is key to Sleep Number’s success.
As Lisa said, the company’s InnerCircle Rewards program focuses on two-way engagement.
Sleep Number officials truly listen to their customers and provide valuable content that informs them about health and wellness issues, including the importance of quality sleep.
A loyalty program that engages customers on a regular basis about issues they care about strengthens two-way relationships every day.
Sleep Number officials don’t want to engage to push product. They want to engage with customers to build lasting relationships that impact them so they become brand advocates.