Adding Value to Everyday Life: Comarch’s Insights into Customer Loyalty

As brands seek to build deeper relationships with their customers and differentiate themselves from competitors, “adding value” is a key consideration for marketers as we move deeper into the new year. Value can come in many forms, but as companies and consumers navigate economic uncertainty, marketers look to enhance their loyalty strategies, and data and privacy regulations evolve, brands must provide value to keep customers engaged and drive brand loyalty.

With many years of customer loyalty technology and strategy experience under its belt, Comarch is a technology-driven customer loyalty platform provider and strategic partner for its clients across various verticals, from retail, to fuel, travel, and more.

Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, had the opportunity to speak with Christopher Sandstrom, Director of Growth & Strategy for Americas for Comarch, about trends in customer loyalty they expect brands to focus on throughout 2023.

Guiding Customer Engagement with Personalized Interactions
New trends in customer loyalty continually point toward personalizing interactions with every customer. Loyalty members want to feel like the brand understands and meets their unique needs and interests.

Comarch helps their clients leverage technology to create this kind of personalization. Using first-party data collected through the loyalty program, Comarch’s platform provides suggestions designed to enhance users’ experiences beyond their purchase behaviors.

“Loyalty is much more than just points and rewards,” says Sandstrom. “It’s taking the customer experience beyond the typical loyalty transaction and inserting yourself into the lives of your customers in a non-intrusive way.” This kind of experience comes through collecting actionable data and using it to effectively engage with those customers. For example, Comarch helps support a program for ExxonMobil which sends a push notification alerting members to the nearest Mobil gas station when their gas tanks are running low.

“Brands need to be able to aid and add value to everyday life, not just tell customers to purchase the next item,” says Sandstrom.
Meaningful Partnerships Increase Program Engagement
While there are many trends in customer loyalty brands can rely on to increase customer engagement — new features, functionality, or gamification — Comarch is seeing many brands benefit from strategic partnerships.

In the retail space — especially among grocers — partnerships add value to the customer experience. As new loyalty trends point to engaging customers in their everyday behaviors and purchases, brands can build loyalty through allowing members to earn and use rewards points at strategic partner locations.

“For example, we’re seeing customers earn points at the grocery and use them to fill up a gas tank,” says Sandstrom. “Being able to earn and burn with other programs is significant.”

These kinds of partnerships capitalize on gathering and understanding customer data then using it to determine which brands those customers use often. They create another layer of personalization, improving customer experience by helping them earn with daily transactions and save on necessary purchases.


First-Party Data Builds Emotional Loyalty
As privacy laws and regulations impact companies around the world, customers look for brands they can trust to keep their information secure. The easiest and best way for brands to embrace the new laws and regulations is to focus data collection efforts on first and zero-party data.

The brand’s loyalty program is one of the most effective ways to collect this data. First-party data can be gathered from customer’s transaction history or web activity, while zero-party data comes directly from the customer in formats like survey responses and polls. Customer consent is the key element of first-party data, which builds trust between the customer and brand.

“The real reason companies and loyalty programs experience a huge boom is data,” says Sandstrom. “When gathering first-party data and phasing out third-party cookies, loyalty has become the central hub for data collection.”

Using the loyalty program to collect user data allows a brand to both create a personalized experience based on user behavior and build emotional loyalty by only using data the customer directly provides.

“You’re getting the response directly from the individual,” says Sandstrom.
Seamless Customer Experience through Technology
Covid played a role in redefining customer loyalty, allowing brands to take a step back and strategize their programs. Brands were able to critically examine the challenges their customers faced and look for ways to remove friction from the loyalty experience.

“Taking the experience away from a typical loyalty transaction and making the customers day easier is the goal,” says Sandstrom.

Combining data, partnerships, and personalization takes the customer experience away from traditional loyalty, which has mainly focused on transactions. Through understanding customer behaviors, brands can reduce friction in their members’ everyday interactions with the brand and its partners. Integrating technology — like pay at the pump or click and collect — make the customer experience more seamless.

There are a lot of new technologies in the loyalty space that brands should consider, like NFTs, CDPs (Customer Data Platforms), or digital assets. However, Sandstrom sees a lot of engagement with geolocation among Comarch clients, and he expects more brands to implement it into their programs.  

“Geolocation provides the highest ROI we’ve seen with new technologies, especially in retail spaces,” says Sandstrom.

Sandstrom expects more brands to rely on geolocation to help make this seamless experience. Through this technology, loyalty programs can interact with members in real-time, sending promotions and offers when they are near store locations or sending surveys as they leave.

“Being able to tell when customers walk out of a store and send a quick survey to incentivize them to give you first-party data with some points or a discount,” says Sandstrom. “It’s priceless.”

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