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Using customer-centric processes and strategies is extremely important for brands in the current environment. Convenience and seamlessness are excellent differentiators and revenue drivers, and brands that offer them often avoid some of the pitfalls associated with more traditional, less experiential programs.
Recently, we spoke with Sara Galloway, Director of Strategy & Consulting at Aimia, to discuss this very topic. She pointed out that brand clients are becoming more interested in offering their customers personalized experiences, which means that tech providers need to be able to show their clients what their customers’ journeys look like.
What are brands asking you for today that you may not have seen twelve months ago?
Within the past year, we’ve seen brands become increasingly interested in individualization. Simple behavioral, transactional, and demographic segmentation isn’t enough. Brands want to take on more granularity to shape each individual conversation or touchpoint with that customer. They know that a loyalty platform can collect data across hundreds of touchpoints to build out a holistic customer view, but they’re curious about how a loyalty provider operates and connects with their existing ecosystems to exceed their customer growth goals.   
How are you responding to these challenges?
We solve for these challenges across both the tech and services side. A strength of our technology is a fully integrated ecosystem that offers some out-of-the-box customizations, while also largely operating on an open API system that can integrate with any of a brand’s tech partners. Since the average marketer is managing its customer relationship across 39 different technologies, an integrated platform means an easy way to unite a brand’s tech stack and eliminate the need for other platforms that are contributing to a disparate view of the customer. The key to building out individualized customer journeys is pulling data in across hundreds of touchpoints to build out a holistic view of the customer, easily accomplished by our robust loyalty platform.
With our machine learning models that can trigger the right offer at the right time and our proprietary SmartJourney® methodology, which is comprised of over 20 microstages and more than 100 input features, each action taken by customers carves out their personalized journeys with a brand. We use these behavioral insights to not only develop a customer-centric program design, but to continuously create revenue-driving strategies to optimize onboarding, drive conversion, boost growth, increase engagement, and improve retention.
Where do you see retail going and what would you advise a current or new client in order to effectively compete?
Retailers need to continue to find their distinction and the way to do this is by putting the customer at the center of their brand. In recent years, we’ve seen many of our favorite brands shrink or disappear altogether, thanks in large part to the endless discount vortex they were sucked into. When retailers really look at who their customers are, what customers say they want, and what their actions show they actually want, they’re able to build out the experiences that grow their most valuable customers and attract soon-to-be most valuable customers. In recent years, retail loyalty programs have been no great help in building out this customer centricity. These programs are the most abundant within the loyalty landscape, and it’s difficult to tell one retail program apart from the next. The brands that will thrive are undoubtedly tapping into their customer data through loyalty, CRM, or a combination of the two to cultivate an environment of customer obsession.  
Clearly, seamless, customer-centric experiences are a must for brands. To offer these experiences, brands have to generate insights from data and understand the customer journey. To achieve these goals, using technology effectively is invaluable.

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