Loyalty Live: vPromos Q&A on Automating the Loyalty Experience

For brands with loyalty programs, customer interaction is an integral part of the total customer experience. Brands benefit when their programs are easy to join, and customers can effortlessly earn and use rewards.  

vPromos works with clients to minimize barriers to program participation by simplifying the loyalty experience for brands and their customers. Loyalty360 spoke with Peter Vogel, Chief Revenue Officer at vPromos, about how payment terminal technology can improve program performance, facilitate customer communications, and open the door to innovation.

Can you tell us about your background and current role at vPromos?
Vogel: I joined vPromos about six months ago as Chief Revenue Officer, and my primary responsibility is building our client roster, especially in the restaurant and retail sectors. For several decades, I’ve helped build loyalty programs and card-linked programs for multiple start-ups and tier-1 brands, so loyalty has been a key component of almost every company I’ve worked with.

For those who might not be familiar with vPromos, how do you support your clients’ loyalty programs?
Vogel: Our technology turns clients’ card payment terminals into marketing tools for their loyalty programs. When customers swipe their cards, the terminal invites them to join and start earning rewards on the spot. From then on, the terminal will recognize the card on every subsequent visit and automatically credit the purchase to their account. Customers can have unlimited credit or debit cards linked to their account at one time. The process is fast and seamless for the customer.

What are the main challenges for brands that your software is designed to solve?
Vogel: The first challenge is getting customers to enroll. With our technology, brands don’t rely on the counterperson to sign up customers. The terminal does the asking, handles the enrollment, and collects permission to send offers to the customer.

We’ve found that employees are reluctant to bring up loyalty programs because they don’t want to come off as too “salesy.” They want to serve customers and aren’t always comfortable soliciting enrollment. Our technology removes this issue.

As for customers, they don’t have to hunt for their loyalty cards or input their phone numbers. They simply pay with a card that’s connected to their account. Purchases are automatically tracked, points or program credits are automatically allocated, and rewards are provided when thresholds are met.

How do you define customer loyalty, and what does it mean to your company?
Vogel: From our perspective as a vendor for brands, we see loyalty through a mathematical lens. We’re interested in program ROI and overall economic benefit for them. When we drill into the numbers, we can see whether the program is producing true incremental spending through both increased average order value and increased frequency of purchases. It’s not unusual for loyalty program members to spend 30%–50% more per average purchase and for brands to see overall revenue increase by 25% or more.

We recently conducted a survey in which 70% of brands said they have focused more on data compliance and privacy over the past 18 months than ever before. What challenges do brands face in this area?
Vogel: The biggest challenge today is getting permission to send text messages to customers. With many brands, customers must opt-in on the company website before they can receive messages. Few customers will bother to do that. A lot of brands still don’t have a sizable audience they can text. We know that about 98% of people open every text they get, whereas only 15%–20% open every email. 

The solution is allowing customers to opt in the moment they sign up and when they’re most excited about the program. Our software captures permission, with TCPA compliance, at the terminal, which gives brands a larger audience to text while supporting compliance.

Loyalty programs in some industries are starting to look the same. How can brands make their programs stand out from the crowd?
Vogel: Personalization is key. Brands must offer benefits that are related to a customer’s previous purchases or their expressed interests. Personalized rewards mean more to customers than generic offers. American Express is one brand that understands this. They might offer a gourmet cooking class if that’s your thing or a backstage pass at a concert if you’re into music. Personalization can be more challenging for sectors like retail and restaurants, but brands can still add personalization to set them apart.


What do you see as the next big opportunity for brands in terms of technology?
Vogel: Before accepting my current position, I conducted research and found the payments industry is at an inflection point. Many brands are using older payment terminals that simply process card transactions. Smart terminals are now available in the market — they can access any number of features and apps. With them, brands can manage gift cards, institute loyalty programs, accept cryptocurrency, and extend credit.  

Most of the major brands, from quick-service restaurants (QSR) to fast-casual to retail, will all be upgrading to smart Android-based terminals in 2024 and 2025. Payment terminals have moved well beyond just accepting payments. Any brand using the new technology will be able to offer an elevated level of convenience to its customers.

What will be the focus for vPromos in the loyalty arena for 2024?
Vogel: We’re focusing on thought leadership for the first time. We’re educating brands on what they can accomplish with payment terminal technology. There’s a tremendous opportunity, especially in retail and restaurants, to enhance the customer loyalty experience using the same piece of equipment they already use to accept payments. We’ll communicate this potential to brands throughout 2024.

Quick-fire Questions:
What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What excites you?
The state of technology right now.

What do you find tiresome?
Critiquing instead of finding solutions.

What famous person, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
Ernest Hemingway.

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

What profession would you avoid?

Who inspired you to become the person you are today?
100 different writers.

What do you typically think about at the end of the day?
The next day’s challenges.

How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family?
Kind, thoughtful, and generous.

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