Loyalty Live: nventive on the Role of Micro-interactions in Personalization and Creating a Rewarding Customer Experience

With a clientele spanning across the U.S. and Canada, nventive specializes in crafting impactful mobile, web applications, and software solutions that increase engagement and enhance the user experience for brands. From strategy to delivery, nventive’s approach seamlessly blends creativity, technology, and strategic thinking.
 
The core of nventive’s work involves developing custom web and mobile applications, and within the loyalty sector, the company works frequently with coalition programs. Because those programs tend to be more complex, the integrations are vast, requiring nventive to develop many solutions around that vertical.
 
nventive works in other sectors as well — manufacturing (productivity), financial, retail, and more. Working within these distinct industries allows nventive to glean the best practices across trades and apply them to a specific vector. The company also advises clients and works with existing programs to maximize the experience on mobile platforms.
 
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with David Hamel, Vice President of Strategy, CX and Design at nventive, about creating a rewarding experience for the customer, the role of micro-interactions in personalization, and leveraging evolving technologies.
 


Defining Customer Loyalty
For nventive, customer loyalty is different for each client, and there are also differences in the market. What customer loyalty means at a given time is dependent on the context of nventive’s clients — their business models and value propositions.
 
“For us, customer loyalty is rich,” says Hamel. “It’s about an active customer that a brand wants to do business with and who wants to continue doing business with the brand. It’s more than just points and rewards. It’s about engagement from the customer on several touchpoints.”
 
Mobile is one of those touchpoints. It can be in-store, on the web, or in other channels. For nventive, it’s improving customers’ consideration for the brand and rewarding them for the actions they take.
 
But rewards are more than points, cashback, or currency. They’re tied to the experience.
 
“If you play games on mobile, you’re engaged and rewarded for every action you take,” explains Hamel. “Customers enjoy a polished user interface, real-time data updates, and push notifications. Haptic feedback — such as small vibrations from mobile phones — is experienced when an action is completed. All these things are rewarding for a customer, and it has nothing to do with monetary value.”
 
Hamel also notes that loyalty goes past the program. It involves good customer service and ease of use.  
 
Technology and Loyalty
The technology landscape is evolving quite rapidly. Technologies that focused on tag management are now moving toward identity management. There’s a confluence of different functionalities, which creates challenges — and potentially — opportunities for brands.
 
nventive has observed a broad range of situations with the brands it partners with — legacy technologies, existing martech stacks, loyalty platforms built in-house, and vendor-supported platforms. 
 
“With the current advancement of AI, there has been much progress,” answers Hamel when asked about technologies brands are exploring. “It’s now simpler and more straightforward to use in existing products. If you’re using a commercial off-the-shelf solution, you will likely have access to some of these AI capabilities from that vendor. If it’s not on their roadmap, I’d think about investigating other options.”
 
When engaged, nventive frequently helps clients with proof of concept to see what is working and what is not. Hamel acknowledges it seems a new tool in support of loyalty or marketing is available every month. nventive tests them in a small-scale lab-type setting as appropriate. Then, those new tools are passed on to production teams, who can implement them in solutions offered by the company.
 
Hamel also notes that in the past, brands tended to focus on transaction data to personalize experiences, but now they’re focused on capturing intent. For example, when a customer browses through products and spends time looking at a particular item (or similar items), their interest is graded. This information is fed to the brand’s customer database, and the experience is personalized based on micro-interactions with products.
 
“You see this a lot with Amazon, Temu, and Pinterest, among others. It’s more mobile than loyalty, but it’s a lot of personalization,” says Hamel, admitting that he recently tried the Temu platform. “Temu is re-engaging customers on all channels — in the app with push notifications, through SMS, and through email. It’s a bit overwhelming.”
 
While brand reach outs and touchpoints are critical for engagement, there must be balance.
 

 

Building Successful Loyalty Programs and Strategies
Some programs tend to be very complex, and nventive will appraise a brand’s current position in loyalty strategy execution to learn where it may be of service. Hamel explains that a brand’s customers must understand the value of the program through the experience itself. When brands concentrate on creating a worthwhile experience, the result is increased engagement with a larger customer base. When they maximize their programs, customers find more value and will reengage. The engagement loop is then active.
 
“Customers will keep coming back. They’ll continue to make their purchases through that vendor,” says Hamel.
 
Some brands include multipliers, status levels, and tiers in their loyalty programs, which adds to the complexity of elevating a program to its next level of success. However, micro-interactions, such as when a customer first opens an app and is presented with instructions on how to proceed, add value to the experience and empower the customer.
 
“Within the experience itself, we can help the client understand how to maximize the return,” explains Hamel. “We might focus on a mobile channel, but clients can employ this with other channels, too.”
 
Brand Focus in the Current Loyalty Landscape
A number of brands Loyalty360 speaks with are focused on redesigning their customer loyalty program or adding new functionality to encourage customer engagement. nventive’s clients have expressed a higher desire to personalize the experience. Some brands are seeking to gamify the experience, too.
 
“In the past, people thought of gamification as creating a small game within the user experience,” says Hamel. “It’s not about that. It’s about using game mechanics to foster the engagement loop.”
 
Hamel points out that while the same principles apply to a game, the features are there to help the customer move forward in engagement and benefit from it. Real-time information, like progress bars, creates a better experience. It’s developing a space within the “loyalty game” to let the customer know where they are at every instant, followed by letting them know what they should do next.
 
“We also see more of the subscription model alongside the regular loyalty program,” adds Hamel. “That’s another trend — essentially inspired by Amazon’s Prime. A lot of brands would like to pursue this model.”
 
nventive’s clients also seek to reduce friction as much as possible, offering customers a seamless experience across all channels. For example, if a customer has engaged with a call center, the store associate should have access to that information when interacting with the customer in-store.
 
“It requires a lot of back-end work to make that happen,” admits Hamel.
 
Moving Forward in 2024
The team at nventive enjoys working alongside loyalty industry partners and plans to engage with even more brands and service providers in 2024. Hamel shares that nventive is working more with AI integration, and the offering is developing quickly. As a part of the company’s roadmap, it plans to integrate new third-party technologies into client solutions.
 
“We also launched a lab in 2023 called Lloopr,” Hamel adds. “It’s a loyalty lab to showcase what I described before — the gamified or polished experience through a mobile lab, micro-interactions, and more. We’re looking forward to continuing that lab experience in 2024.”
 
 
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Quick-fire Questions    
  
What is your favorite word?  
Different.
 
What is your least favorite word?   
No.
 
What excites you?   
Learning.
 
What do you find tiresome?   
Red tape.
 
What is one technology should marketers prioritize implementing?  
Mobile apps for now and AI in the future.
 
What book do you like to recommend to colleagues? 
The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz.
 
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
Race car engineer.
 
Who inspired you to become the person you are today?   
Many people — I can’t really name one.
 
What do you typically think about at the end of the day?
I’m always looking to know more about something.
 
How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family?   
Quietly caring.
 

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