Loyalty Live: Comarch Q&A on Applying Data Science to Customer Loyalty

Data leads the way in modern marketing, serving as the foundation for informed decisions at every turn. Today's customer loyalty strategies rely on an intricate network of gathered and analyzed data points. These insights are then harnessed to craft personalized communications, offers, rewards, and experiences for a brand’s loyal customers.

The science of data is a passion of Michael Snyder, Senior Solution Consultant for Loyalty and Experience at Comarch. Loyalty360 recently had the opportunity to sit down with Snyder and gain insights into how Comarch is embracing data-driven customer loyalty techniques to create meaningful customer interactions and generate measurable results for clients.  



For those who might not be familiar with Comarch, how do you serve clients in the loyalty industry?
Snyder: I think of Comarch as a tech company. Our essential duty is to develop and implement technologies across a wide spectrum of clients and industries. We have a dedicated Loyalty Division that provides end-to-end tech solutions for companies, from the pre-go-live phase to transferring existing programs to our platform. We can host the data, engineer the platform, manage the program, and provide reward fulfillment.  
 
How Does your platform integrate with e-commerce platforms?  
Snyder: Our philosophy has been to innovate from within and build our own systems to maintain full functionality and flexibility. But we also recognize that our clients are using many different e-commerce platforms that work well for them, like Shopify and Magento. Over the past year, we’ve adapted to that market reality. We’ve built some sophisticated pre-connectors between our system and e-commerce platforms. These pre-connectors allow our system to maintain as much functionality as possible, and they also speed up launch and implementation for the client. We can add functionality on the customer-facing end while retaining much of the e-commerce platform’s backend, so there’s less training involved for employees. Clients also avoid the expense of transitioning off their legacy platform.
 
What tactics do you use to drive customer loyalty and retention for clients?
Snyder: Personalization is key for us. We’re always looking to take it to the next level. There are so many loyalty programs out here now, from big brands like Amazon and Walmart to direct competitors in your sector, that can encroach on your loyalty territory. You need to make the customer experience as personalized as it can be to meet your customers’ needs before they even know them.
 
We help clients do this by offering robust data science. We analyze different customer data points, like lifetime customer value and return rate, so we can target customers at their best time of need.
 
Let me give you an example. One of our clients, JetBlue, just rolled out a refresh of their program with a new tier structure with some cool gamification elements. Once you hit a tier level, you’re able to choose your own benefits instead of whatever fixed benefits are assigned to that tier. This represents a huge increase in personalization, and data science led the way.
 
Are you seeing a lot of creativity with gamification these days?
Snyder: Yes! It’s one of the bigger trends right now. Companies are trying to find that next-level edge to inspire. Some of the most profitable companies in the world are gaming companies — they’re eclipsing Hollywood and the music industry. Tiers and badges are integral to gaming, and people eat it up. The loyalty industry is trying to follow suit and provide experiences that consumers truly enjoy. 
 
Regarding customer data collection, are the brands you work with revising their practices in response to current and expected privacy legislation?
Snyder: Privacy is a huge issue for us because we’re headquartered in the E.U. and are governed by its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We’ve been heavily focused on privacy for a few years now. California has already adopted many of the E.U. regulations, and national legislation is pending.  

Going forward, our clients won’t be able to rely on third-party data as much as they once did. Besides the legislation limiting its use, third-party data is becoming less relevant as brands seek a higher level of personalization. Our clients are now implementing first-party data collection tools like surveys and adding data points to customer profiles. We see brands offering bonus points to customers for providing certain data. This approach enhances personalization and also complies with current or expected legislation.
 

 

 
Can you tell us about a recent client win in the loyalty space? What strategies or features led to success?
Snyder: The first that comes to mind is ExxonMobil. I come from a data background, so I’m a big believer in the data-first approach — making decisions based on what you’re seeing from customers. With the ExxonMobil loyalty program, we looked at the products members purchased and how they spent their reward points. The brand used this data to expand the program by partnering with Fortune 500 brands to give members more ways to earn and redeem points.
 
We helped ExxonMobil identify opportunities members might want to explore and offer them before they “occurred” to the member. We did this through personalized recommendations and exclusive access to certain products before they launched. Member engagement increased, and if members are engaged, you’re more likely to retain them as customers.
 
In our research, we find many brands actively overhauling their loyalty programs. What are your clients looking for in terms of reinvigorating their programs?
Snyder: We’re seeing the same trend with our clients. Brands want slicker designs and more flexibility to keep up with customer needs. They’re also feeling the heat from their competitors’ loyalty programs. Brands know it’s time to innovate, and one way to do that is by offering experiential rewards. Our client, Ford, recently launched an off-road experience with its Bronco SUV. If you’re one of the top performers in the loyalty program, you can try out a new Bronco off road at a national park. That’s the type of next-level experience brands want to create for their customers. It sounds like heaven for a Bronco fan.
 
What should be the primary focus for brands right now?
Snyder: Definitely personalization. You simply must make your program relevant to your customers’ interests and purchasing habits. You have to touch on something they need. Gone are the days of generic offerings to your customers — that’s just not going to cut it anymore.
 
Another must-have is a mobile-friendly website. Not everyone is going to download your program app because they already have dozens of apps crowding their phone. Viewing webpages on a phone’s browser is easier than managing another app. Brands often overlook this, but it’s important to the customer experience.
 
Let’s say a client walks into your office for the first time and wants some quick wins to get more out of a loyalty program. What’s your advice?  
Snyder: Take a data-first approach. Look at what customers are buying, and then target them with cross-sell and upsell offers. Help customers discover how different products go together. Then you can follow up with a survey to see if the opportunities are actually resonating with them.
 
What’s the next big thing for Comarch? What will you concentrate on in the year head?
Snyder: Right now, we have two different levels of our platform, an enterprise solution and a SaaS   solution. The SaaS level is for midsize brands that might be embarking on loyalty for the first time. We’re redoubling our efforts to communicate the benefits of the SaaS solution to smaller brands.
 
We’re also planning to offer more exclusive rewards through our fulfilment department, including experiences related to Formula 1 racing. Comarch’s new data center in Arizona will open in 2024, expanding our data hosting capabilities.
 
Quick-fire Questions:
What is your favorite word?
Space.

What is your least favorite word?
Eggs.

What excites you?
Adventure, sports, MMA, anything to get the blood pumping.

What do you find tiresome?
Excuses — and updating the CRM, which is necessary but tedious.  

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Astronaut.

What profession would you avoid?
Nurse or doctor.

Who inspired you to become the person you are today?
My family, my MMA group, and my wife.  

What do you typically think about at the end of the day?
Nothing. I just relax with my little Pug.

How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family?
A guy who will always be there when you need him.
 

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