Loyalty Live: Deloitte Q&A on the State of the Industry, Build vs. Buy Decision-Making, and the Future of Loyalty

Deloitte has built a multi-functional business for over 100 years, primarily focusing on consulting, tax, and audit assistance. With a global presence of over 400,000 employees, the organization has established itself as a powerhouse in name and brand recognition.

Deloitte’s loyalty practice and consulting services support brand clients in any stage of their customer loyalty efforts, whether a client is looking to launch a loyalty program for the first time, relaunch an existing program, or enhance any number of touchpoints within a customer journey.

When it comes to loyalty, Deloitte’s team has noticed some changes in the industry, with many clients concentrating on broadening the geographic scope of their loyalty programs and learning and utilizing innovative tools in order to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Oliver Page and Adrian Trzaskus of Deloitte about a number of current customer loyalty industry trends. Page has 18 years of experience at Deloitte and has been a partner for the past 5 years. Both Page and Trzaskus worked for various marketing and loyalty technology departments before settling into their current roles at Deloitte. They are passionate about finding new ways to improve customer engagement and brand connection using new loyalty management technologies.

Loyalty Industry Status Report
Speaking with the pair of experts on what they’re seeing in the loyalty field, both mentioned several topics that were top of mind in this growing industry, including the importance having the right technologies and platforms in place to support customer loyalty programs at scale

“Loyalty leaders are growing 2.5 times faster than their industry peers,” says Adrian Trzaskus. “CMOs are looking to modernize their platforms, which makes [technology] very important.”

Keeping up with new and emerging technologies brings its own challenges, including having the resources to manage various technologies, budget constraints, and other competing priorities. However, brands realize the importance of evolving their loyalty efforts to keep up with the competition and meet rising customer expectations. As the customer loyalty landscape continues to evolve, Trzaskus emphasizes, “These static offers aren’t working anymore.” “Personalization is taking over, and brands need to embrace the idea of developing a living loyalty profile to drive positive experiences and emotional connections.”

Customer Loyalty Structure
One of the many topics top of mind for marketers today is the best way to organize and structure their internal teams to best facilitate a loyalty program or strategy. However, for many teams, enlisting the assistance of a third-party partner, either from a strategy or technology perspective – or both – is necessary to launch and maintain the brand’s loyalty efforts. While partnering with an outside technology or consulting partner is the right decision for many brands, that doesn’t mean it comes without its challenges. One of the many difficulties when transitioning from an in-house customer loyalty program to a third-party system, or maintaining an ongoing relationship, is setting and managing client expectations.

“You need a clear understanding of the technology,” says Trzaskus. “Scheduling multiple demos and understanding how this technology is used in the industry. Second, meeting the team who is assigned to your project, knowing how they can support you, and when they are available helps build room for innovation and partnership, which is vital to success. Then there is the ongoing operational model. How do your brand’s needs impact the roadmap? Looking at all the costs, resource implications, and training for that ongoing operational model is also critical.”


Build vs Buy Decisions
After first launching a loyalty program, a brand’s work is far from over. In fact, some of the difficult work has just begun. It’s critical for brands to listen to customer and employee feedback, adapt, and offer program enhancements to ensure their members are continually engaged and interested in what the program has to offer. Failing to keep up and make the loyalty experience more personalized and engaging can leave companies behind. However, with the right supplier partner in place, marketers shouldn’t have to tackle all of these business decisions alone.

"Businesses need to stick to what they're best at doing while trying to manage and innovate their loyalty program,” says Trzaskus. “Finding a manager for your business is most likely the best decision you can make because success really comes down to innovation because technology is accelerating.”

Another key factor that often flies under the radar of many loyalty teams is developing a loyalty program that reaches and meets customer expectations across global and local markets by making the user experience more tailored to their busy lives. As for companies looking to invest in their loyalty program, many are finding it easier and more efficient to choose outside agencies.

“Loyalty programs are at the center of the business. Your program is going to be integrated across every point within the shopping experience,” explains Page. “There's a shift away from owning all your own tech to working with partners and then being really good at integrating that into the rest of your business.”

By partnering with the right supplier partner or partners, brands can successfully navigate the complexities of loyalty program management, allowing them to focus on their core strengths and deliver a more personalized and innovative experience to their valued members.

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