Loyalty Live: Bounteous Q&A on the Three Pillars of Customer Loyalty, Relaunching and Evolving Rewards Programs

For the past 20 years, Bounteous has established itself as a co-innovation partner for numerous brand clients. The company’s core mission as a technology-agnostic agency is to assist clients from a wide range of industries in selecting, implementing, and optimizing their technology, as well as bring loyalty experiences to life through strategic consulting, mobile app design, website development, creative, analytics, and more.
 
Loyalty360 CEO, Mark Johnson, spoke with Ellen Green, Vice President of Loyalty Strategy at Bounteous, to learn more about her experience in consulting and how Bounteous partners with brands to build successful customer loyalty strategies.



Defining Customer Loyalty 
Every business wants its customers to be happy with its products and services, but satisfaction is only the first step to building brand loyalty. Green explains the difference between good and great customer loyalty programs, noting that loyalty is amplified when brands create great customer experiences. By delivering memorable moments, shoppers and companies begin to build a connection that leads to lasting brand loyalty. In fact, simple interactions can cultivate trust and reinforce the relationship: responding to social media posts, addressing customer questions or concerns, creating moments of surprise, or developing seamless one-click digital experiences based on customer favorites and preferences.
 
“We’re always looking for ways to go beyond the transaction, create emotional connections with customers, and help our clients measure the success of their efforts,” says Green.

Three Pillars for Loyalty Success
Green believes that loyalty teams should collaborate to develop solutions centered around three key pillars: customer needs, business goals, and brand fit.

Customer Needs
When it comes to developing loyalty programs, it’s important to understand customer needs and allow that knowledge to guide your strategy. Customers love sharing their opinions and there are plenty of ways to easily integrate touchpoints within the experience to capture it. Brands can use listening tools, progressive profiling, and zero-party data to flesh out customer profiles and activate that data in a personalized way. Formal consumer research is another great way to gather insight into how customers feel about the brand and what potential loyalty benefits they would find valuable.

Business Goals 
Green shares that at Bounteous, the team always starts by understanding business goals in a loyalty engagement. Without a clear understanding of what the organization is trying to achieve and alignment from the leadership team, they will not be successful. 

Brand Fit
Furthermore, Green asserts that customer loyalty programs are not a one-size-fits-all solution. To successfully engage customers and meet their business needs, brands should develop a loyalty program that aligns with their brand identity, meets consumer expectations, and incorporates elements that differentiate them from the competition.

(Re)Launching a Customer Loyalty Program 
Having worked with many clients on loyalty programs over the years, Green understands the importance of getting it right. Many brands are struggling to add value to the relationship without increasing costs.
 
“Creating a better experience, incorporating low-cost benefits and making it easier to interact with the brand are some solutions we’ve seen success with,” says Green.
 
Bounteous also works with brands to leverage technology to solve their unique business challenges, like long lines or wait times.
 
“Technology can enhance and streamline the shopping process, so customers don’t have to wait in lines when they arrive or go to pay,” explains Green. “Leveraging technology can effectively expedite the customer’s journey before they reach the check-in or checkout, making them more likely to visit next time.” 
 
When companies have outgrown their customer loyalty technology, consultants like Bounteous can assist clients in revamping their strategy and introduce them to newer, more effective technology.
 
“We help brands find the right partners. We’ll even implement the technology and bring it to life throughout their entire ecosystem,” Green adds.

 

Fighting Brand Blandness
With so many brands fighting for customers’ attention, it can be hard for companies to develop a loyalty strategy that differentiates them from competitors. Green gives insight into what companies need to set themselves apart in a sea of sameness.
 
“Lately, a lot of brands have launched similar loyalty programs to one another, and it’s not driving true customer loyalty anymore,” explains Green. “There needs to be a differentiator between Business A and Business B. Maybe they have points today, but that’s not enough to motivate customers to build a long-lasting connection with the brand.”
 
For long-lasting positive results, it is crucial to create distinctive solutions for a brand’s loyalty program. By conducting customer research, businesses can gather valuable insights into their unique value proposition, enabling them to amplify their efforts and establish exceptional customer experiences that differentiate them from competitors.
 
“Panda Express has a new program theme based on good fortune, bringing the tradition of receiving a fortune cookie at the end of your meal to life,” says Green. “Now every month, customers can look forward to receiving a fortune with benefits and prizes, which builds that emotional connection while using the company’s brand elements that make it special and unique.”

End-to-End Experience 
Brands typically focus on building a loyalty program, but more attention should be paid to the overall experience. Understanding customer pain points and optimizing the ongoing customer experience to make it easier for shoppers is key to getting ahead of the competition.
 
“Taking a holistic approach to loyalty, leveraging the data, and continually evolving your strategy is what leads brands to win in the long run,” finished Green.
 

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