Ensuring a best-in-class B2B loyalty program strategy begins with the recognition that people are consumers at home and consumers while on the job.

During the Jan. 17 Loyalty360 webinar titled, “The State of Loyalty in 2017 – An Exclusive Webinar with Snipp and Loyalty360,” presented by Snipp, Carlos Dunlap-Beard, vice president, loyalty solutions & business development at Snipp, discussed this important theme.

“Although business buyers are still consuming, depending on the audience, their needs will differ,” Dunlap-Beard explained. “To enable a best-in-class B2B loyalty strategy, the program and the platform need to be flexible, allowing businesses to participate in a manner that best fits their structure and culture.”

For instance, Dunlap-Beard noted that many businesses and their administrators will want oversight, compliance, and benefits for the business (e.g. discount on services, certifications, continuing education, etc.), as well as regulatory control where applicable.

“This is especially true in health care and pharmaceuticals when you account for HIPPA regulations – or PCI compliance or Incentive-Based Compensation restrictions identified in the Dodd-Frank regulations,” he explained. “Staying out of the crosshairs of regulatory compliance officers is a must.”

From a flexibility standpoint, a B2B program should provide business customers with the option to choose institutional or individual contributor rewards and recognition, Dunlap-Beard explained.

“Some business program members may choose to pool all earnings from your loyalty program and give the administrator the ability to redeem for rewards that can be given as recognition to top-performing sales reps or other employees as the organization sees fit,” he said. “While other business customers within the same program may allow sales reps, reseller sales reps, installers, etc. to earn and redeem for personal rewards and benefits of their choosing.”

What’s more, based on member type (small, medium, or large organization), there will most likely be the need for segmentation and tiers based on earning rate, rewards options, and soft benefits.

“Flexibility based on your industry, customer industry, customer culture, and other factors is critical to implementing and managing an appealing and successful B2B loyalty strategy,” Dunlap-Beard said.

A loyalty strategy framework is crucial, Dunlap-Beard noted. He outlined what should be included in this type of strategic guideline:

Ensure that all departments and key stakeholdersincluding the C-suite or executive team – have an opportunity to participate and commit to the strategy. This is the start, but it’s the most critical part. Laying the right foundation will keep the process and program from crumbling from lack of support down the line.
Plan and use the overall company/brand marketing and communications calendar as the basis for the loyalty program. The program should have its own uniquely branded communications and cadence, however, the program communications calendar, especially for special promotions and tent pole events, should be fully integrated with the overall company calendar. The program is in place to drive increased brand affinity and equity.

Determine how the data will flow in and out of the program. Also figure out how and if there’s any need for integrations with CRM systems, email service providers, website, or app hosts. Real-time recognition and rewards comprise a best practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a must have. Your IT department, along with your chosen loyalty partner, will help to determine the best approach for your organization.

Finance should be involved to make sure that any financial assumptions, projections, and KPIs are accurate and in keeping with company standards.

After that, it’s time to design the program: Put the various pieces together to form a program construct.

Once the program is designed, then you have the options of finalizing an internal business case for funding approval, selecting a loyalty platform or full-service provider, if you don’t already have one, or if the prior to conditions (of internal approval and existing loyalty partner) are in place, then you can develop or agree to an implementation process and schedule to get your new or newly revised program in market.

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