Loyalty Programs Are a Unique Opportunity to Collect the Most Accurate Customer Data

Loyalty marketers everywhere usually never have a problem with collecting data, but distilling it to find the best quantity and quality poses a challenge to many.

Loyalty360 talked to Emil Sarkissian, CEO of Loyalty Methods, a Rythmos company, about this point of customer data and loyalty programs.
What are the biggest opportunities/challenges for brands and marketers today? If you could recommend one thing to a client (or prospective client), what would it be?
Sarkissian: Today’s winners are the companies with the most accurate customer data of both quantity and quality. Loyalty programs present a unique opportunity to collect such data, because of the value prop offered by a program, which if done well, can produce valuable data that can be used to better personalize and segment the customer experience. It may sound weird but it seems the optimal way to design a loyalty program is to think: “What if the customer wanted to accurately give us ANY data we asked for? What would we want from them to provide an awesome experience?” Then work from the answers to design a loyalty program that aims to collect that data for a reasonable price in terms of incentives. It’s interesting that not many platforms are geared to help answer those questions continuously through validated learning.

There is so much focus on customer data and around creating actionable insight now. So how should brands be managing data in a way that is less complex, easier to understand, and more impactful?
Sarkissian: We see data in two views: Experiential and analytical. Experiential data is limited to only the relevant data, at the right time, at the right place. Analytical data should be available holistically, for all time, and from everywhere. The interaction between these two data interaction points is really what companies should focus on. Analytical data can be leveraged to drive insight, while experiential data can be leveraged and tailored to make it actionable at the “right time,” “moment of truth,”, etc.

What is the future of customer loyalty?
Sarkissian: Customer loyalty will increasingly be LESS about incentives. It will be more about experiences and emotional attachment to a brand, based on those experiences. Interactivity and real-time engagement will play a role, but also the ability to leverage technologies such as AI to help recognize and reward customers for their loyalty and deliver unforgettable experiences. In terms of brands, we think the key problem is not technology, but the execution. While technology can mitigate execution by being flexible and easy to implement, it can only go so far. Execution is about bringing a team that knows how to execute in context, account for enterprise realities, and be extremely focused on outcomes. A team that executes in such a way, that after the project they are seen as partners, and not just a vendor. 

How does your technology address any of the previous questions? How could you see your platform evolving to address them / what does your roadmap look like?
Sarkissian: ReactorCX is our real-time loyalty and engagement platform. It’s a marketing tool designed to match our thinking in all of the aspects outlined above and help us deliver impactful programs that create a long-lasting competitive advantage. RCX’s focus is on providing a scalable backbone for democratizing the ability for anyone in a company to do validated learning with that brand’s customers as well as a tool to implement lessons learned in the form of CX programs. While we can recommend certain best practices and ideas, we don’t pretend to know what a specific brand should do to engender loyalty or other specific customer behaviors. Instead, we spend our efforts on transforming our clients into customer-centric learning labs and equipping them with the tools necessary to experiment safely and effectively and then helping them continuously improve themselves and adapt to the market and consumer behavior changes.

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