Customer experience is a pivotal differentiator for loyalty marketers. Making that customer experience memorable time and time again breeds brand advocates.

But, creating those memorable and exceptional customer experiences isn’t always easy.
Loyalty360 spoke to Emily Rudin, Chief Customer Officer at CrowdTwist, to learn more about creating exceptional customer experiences.

What makes an exceptional customer experience?
Rudin: An exceptional customer experience is one that’s personalized to an individual’s customer journey, based on their interactions with the brand. An exceptional customer experience directly translates to brand loyalty.

Do you agree that CX is the key differentiator among loyalty marketers today?
Rudin: Yes, traditional differentiators such as product, price, and service no longer apply. In today’s globalized economy, cheaper, higher quality products at cost-effective service levels are readily available. Couple this with the fact that the modern consumer is more informed than ever and can leverage the internet to review, compare and research products and services. All of these factors contribute to higher customer expectations.
As brands compete to deliver greater value to customers to garner their loyalty, customers now expect and choose brands who can deliver additional value such as free shipping, free returns, and overnight delivery. They also expect a higher level of personalization in exchange for the data they share with brands. They want to feel valued for every interaction they make with a brand, which is why more and more brands are investing in loyalty programs.

What are a few ways that brands can exceed customer expectations and provide exceptional experiences?
Rudin: Consumers expect greater personalization, consistent brand experiences across all channels, and to be rewarded for every action they take with a brand. Consumers want a brand to be where they are, acknowledge them, know the products and services they have already purchased, and how they have already engaged. An omnichannel loyalty solution will capture data from and have the ability to reward for every transaction and non-transaction based activity, whether in store, online, on a mobile device, or through a third-party retailer. By leveraging customer data captured in a loyalty solution, brands can make personalized recommendations, offer relevant promotions, and upsell and cross sell relevant products or services to consumers.  

What are brands doing well with CX and where do the challenges lie?
Rudin: The “Colorescience Lasting Rewards” program is really effective at personalizing the brand experience by providing members with product recommendations based on transaction history and profile information. Verizon’s rewards program “Verizon Up” does a really great job of personalizing rewards for members of their program. They track which rewards customers find most appealing, from free coffee to tickets concerts and sporting events to once-in-a-lifetime meet and greets with famous artists and athletes. As Verizon learns what interests their customers, they give them more of what they want.

Steve Madden is creating a seamless brand experience that rewards customers at every brand touchpoint. Its newly launched SM PASS program has unique POS integration capabilities enabling customers to seamlessly obtain points and redeem rewards wherever they shop; in-store, online, or on the Steve Madden App. Plus, the program rewards customers for engagement activities like taking surveys, writing reviews, and connecting on social media offering even more ways for customers to be rewarded for how they engage with the brand.
The major challenge for brands on delivering exceptional customer experiences is a having a lack of insight into what their customers want. Omnichannel loyalty programs help bridge the gap between customer expectations and exceptional customer experiences by capturing and leveraging consumer data to offer deeply personal and authentic customer experiences that build loyalty and engagement.

Can you talk about how some brands weave special privileges and fun and relevant ways to engage to create exceptional customer experiences?
Rudin: Consumers want fun and meaningful ways to engage with their favorite brands. Brands that offer games, sweepstakes, and content experiences that add value help reinforce trust and feel-good brand experiences. They also want to feel valued for their engagement.  From elite rankings to special events and unique experiences, it’s essential to offer one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences that make members feel special, valued, and appreciated.

Members who accumulate the highest level of points as part of “The Walking Dead Fan Rewards Club” can enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences, including VIP tickets to “The Talking Dead after show, a set tour, and meet and greets with the cast. These rewards inspire fans to engage with branded content and buy The Walking Dead merchandise. Plus, they help build a deeper emotional connection between the fan and the brand.
 
Caesar’s Total Rewards program lets members earn Reward Credits for playing games in-person at Caesar locations all over the country. Members can earn credits for table games, poker and even slot machines. The Reward Credits can then be redeemed for free play at casinos, hotel stays, spa breaks, and shopping sprees. This helps Total Rewards members have some fun with the brand and gives them a reason to come back to the casinos. 

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