“Loyalty Without Loyalty” Loyalty360 Interview with Ellen Green, VP of Loyalty Strategy at Bounteous

Bounteous is the digital partner that helps leading companies win by continually innovating brand experiences that drive transformative results. The company partners with brands across retail, hospitality, dining, convenience, entertainment, CPG, financial services & healthcare to drive loyalty as an outcome.

Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson spoke with Ellen Green, VP Loyalty Strategy at Bounteous, about her recent move to the new role as well as the company’s collaborative process with its brand partners.  

Ellen, can you tell us a little more about yourself, your position, and maybe a fun fact about yourself? 

Green: Hi Mark, great to be here. I’ve spent almost 20 years helping brands highlight what makes them special and connect with customers in unique ways that make them love the brand even more. A fun fact about me is I dread fun facts about myself.

Bounteous recently appointed you VP of Loyalty Strategy, can you tell us why the company created this role and practice?

Green: At Bounteous we believe loyalty is all about driving outcomes from great experiences, whether that be brand interactions, moments of surprise, CX, digital interactions, formal benefits & rewards, or engagement with employees. I can’t tell you how many clients have been looking for what we call “loyalty without loyalty” recently, which essentially is strategies and solutions to drive customer loyalty without a formal currency-based program. With Bounteous’ long history of building transformative experiences Loyalty is the perfect enhancement to our offering. 

Could you give us a little bit of history on Bounteous in the customer loyalty space? What is that collaborative process like between Bounteous and the brand to reinvigorate loyalty programs? 

Green: The heart of digital transformation is simplifying the customer experience and anticipating needs. So naturally Bounteous was cultivating loyalty before it was an official practice. Now that we are official, we design loyalty solutions and look at it through 3 lenses: what the customer needs, the business goals & what makes the brand special. These pillars plus our unique approach to co-innovation with the brand’s stakeholders gives us the perfect collaborative environment to create a differentiated approach to loyalty that resonates across the board.

What do you think makes the loyalty programs Bounteous has created for their partners stand out from other restaurant loyalty programs?

Green: The secret sauce is figuring out the hook to make the program stand out in an industry where loyalty has become a sea of sameness. You shouldn’t be able to take another company’s logo and paste it on your loyalty program. Every solution we create is unique to the brand and drives both transactional and emotional loyalty. We think well beyond the core value proposition to the end-to-end customer experience and can bring it all to life through ownable experiences across digital, in-restaurant, marketing, and social touchpoints. Being technology agnostic allows us to be creative with our ideation. Once the strategy is formed, we’ll recommend the right partner to bring the vision to life and implement the technology in a way that brings together the entire ecosystem.

How do features like order ahead and delivery at a normally walk-in/drive-thru restaurant impact the brand’s customer base?

Green: Time is a commodity. There’s not enough of it and brands that meet customers where they are winning customers wallets. By giving customers choice and convenience it naturally broadens your customer base and puts the brand in the consideration set for more eating occasions. While some customers prioritize discounts and value, others will prioritize convenience or recognition.

We are noticing a trend for brands to lean toward more personalization and customized loyalty. How is Bounteous incorporating personalization in its digital experiences?

Green: Context is important. What the customer is doing and where they are when they interact with the brand matter. We partner with companies like Radar to optimize interactions through geo-location and companies like Branch to simplify interactions by streamlining the conversion funnel. These partners and our innovative strategies help our clients shift from a “one-size-fits- all” digital experience to one that changes and prioritizes content based on the individual customer needs. Just entered the restaurant? Your experience changes.

Throughout the customer journey we incorporate recommendations for complementary products, fun challenges, celebratory milestones, and we create memorable brand moments. As we evolve the experience, data plus the voice of the customer powers our decisions and fuels innovation. Some of our best ideas are born from customer inspiration; take Tortelloni by Noodles & Co as a prime example. Customers asked – and Noodles over-delivered.

What do you think should be top of mind for brands as they think about the next “big thing” for their brand’s approach to customer loyalty, experience, and engagement?

Green: With economic pressures looming, having customer loyalty is more important than ever. Loyalty is a long-term strategy that evolves over time, we caution brands into not making short-sighted decisions that could tarnish the long-term relationship. There are many strategies that drive value beyond discounts. Don’t be afraid to explore an idea just because it hasn’t been done before. We encourage clients to lean into creating better experiences, aligning customer and brand values, and amplifying those moments that matter.

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