Loyalty360 Q&A with Salesforce on Software Solutions That Drive Customer Loyalty

Familiar to marketing, sales, and customer service teams globally, Salesforce supplies cloud-based solutions to support its clients’ customer loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and programs. The company’s signature software bundle, Customer 360, provides brand teams with a shared view of customer information at every phase of the customer journey, allowing clients to enhance customer relationships, streamline sales and marketing efforts, and scale to accommodate business needs.

Loyalty360 recently spoke with two Salesforce associates, James Murphy, Senior Manager – Retail Industry Advisor, and Sara Fefferman, Product Marketing Manager. They discussed how Salesforce is helping brands leverage technology to build and maintain customer loyalty.

Can you give us an overview of how Salesforce supports brands’ customer loyalty efforts?
Fefferman: We have an in-house loyalty solution called Loyalty Management that’s built into our core platform, Customer 360. We view loyalty as one of the best ways to bring quality, relevant, and actionable zero- and first-party data into the Salesforce ecosystem. With all customer data in one place, our clients can create a consistent view of each member with loyalty connected to the wider customer experience. This unified flow of data allows brands to create personalized loyalty programs at scale. Our platform also provides predictive insights so brands can continuously improve their programs.

Murphy: Our customers can set up and define loyalty programs natively — within the solution itself. They leverage the power of our CRM technology to create connected loyalty experiences, and that’s exciting for us.

What do you see from brands in different verticals? Are they taking some of the traditional aspects of retail loyalty and adapting them for their audiences and customers?
Murphy: Loyalty has been top-of-mind in many industries the last couple years, mainly because of the role it plays in gathering first-party data. I think that’s why all types of brands have launched or reimagined programs recently. We’re now seeing tactics that have worked amazingly well in one industry transferring to or influencing other sectors. Some retailers are joining together to give each other’s customers the opportunity to earn rewards by cross-shopping. The rewards might be redeemable at other venues for things like concert tickets or dining coupons. This level of brand collaboration is definitely one way retail loyalty is evolving.  

We’re also seeing elements of retail loyalty showing up in other industries. Telecom brands like Comcast and Xfinity introduced loyalty programs this year where you can earn streaming movies or subscription discounts or get the new iPhone 15 at a discount. On the media front, one of my favorite outlets is Outside+, which brought together several outdoor lifestyle magazines under one subscription and then added streaming content and community forums. The automotive industry has also come aboard with various loyalty and rewards programs. In fintech, Rocket Mortgage has gamified borrower education. Let’s say you’re comparing a 15-year mortgage versus a 30-year one on their site. You can earn rewards toward your closing costs by using their online tools.

When you look at how customers are changing, how do you envision the future of customer loyalty programs in various industries? Considering different technologies, how can customer loyalty, at its core, be leveraged to address customer expectations?
Murphy: Loyalty is the connective tissue in that customer experience. It touches so many parts of the enterprise, from marketing to commerce to service. Loyalty starts with knowing your customer. We know that consumers are more tech-savvy than ever. They’re on more channels and generating data at a rate that will double by 2026.

We’re always looking for ways to make it easier and faster for companies to connect all this disparate data into a unified, actionable profile that they can use. Then, they can deliver meaningful, connected experiences to their customers. We’re taking a hard look at how the power of AI can drive these efficiencies.

AI has a major role to play in personalization, relevancy, and the timing of rewards. Customer loyalty isn’t just a marketing issue anymore, and AI is the greatest tool yet for ensuring the customer experience is consistent across all channels and touchpoints. That includes moving beyond the Web2 world, which we primarily live in today, and into future state Web3, blockchain, NFT, and other innovations emerging in the marketplace.


How can brands leverage their loyalty programs to not only shape customer perceptions, but also impact other areas of the organization?
Murphy: We’re on the heels of Dreamforce, which is our big customer event that was held in San Francisco. I shared the stage with the folks from Shoe Carnival, who spoke about the future state of their company. They just relaunched their Shoe Perks Rewards Program and are focused on incorporating voice of the customer (VOC) feedback into their overall service strategy. They want their service teams to know their customers — what loyalty tier they’re on, their lifetime value, whether an order was late, whether they’ve had issues before, and so forth. Shoe Carnival is using this information to deliver proactive service and surprise-and-delight moments that will support customer satisfaction.

Fefferman: The technology also permits service agents to use the loyalty program as a way of serving customers. Agents can award points to customers on the spot to make up for issues like a long hold time or slow shipping.

Do you have any advice on how brands can adapt and innovate their customer loyalty programs? Are there any quick wins brands should consider to enhance their current programs?
Fefferman: At Dreamforce, we had the opportunity to meet with companies across industries, all with different loyalty goals. Loyalty might look a lot different for your brand versus a competitor in the same space. A quick win would be figuring out what loyalty means for your brand and then building your program around that answer. That internal conversation is crucial. Even if you’re not there yet, it gives you an ideal to pursue.

Murphy: I agree with that! My piece of advice is to start simple. There are many cool ways a loyalty program can show up today, but you don’t have to do everything out of the gate. The first thing you should deliver is that connected experience. Everything else can follow.
What’s next for Salesforce in the customer loyalty arena?
Fefferman: We’ll be adding a new referral marketing application to our portfolio this winter. Referral marketing allows customers to earn rewards by referring their networks to your brand. Many of our customers have loyal fans, and referral marketing is one more way to reward them.

Murphy: Refer-a-friend programs are showing up in a big way these days, so we’re excited to get this solution to market. We’ve got a lot of conversations going on right now with brands that want to cultivate loyalty and reward their best customers. Rest assured we’re listening.   

Quick-fire Questions:
What is your favorite word?
Murphy: Casual.

What is your least favorite word?
Murphy: Anxious.

What excites you?
Murphy: New technology and innovation.

What do you find tiresome?
Murphy: Politics.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Murphy: Angel Investing.

What profession would you avoid?
Murphy: Telemarketing.

Who inspired you to become the person you are today?
Murphy: My father.

What do you typically think about at the end of the day?
Murphy: Family, retirement, and probably fly fishing.

How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family?
Murphy: Personally, fondly, and just genuine and loyal.

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