Pierre Bourbonniére, the Chief Marketing Officer of North America’s fourth-largest public transit organization, Société de transport de Montréal (STM), was ecstatic after his company’s loyalty program secured two awards at the inaugural Loyalty360 Awards held Monday at the 7th Annual Loyalty Expo, presented by Loyalty360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association.

The program, powered by STM Merci, a mobile app that rewards STM’s 1.3 million daily riders, earned the following two awards:

Best Customer Experience & Engagement, Gold Winner

Best Technology in Loyalty Marketing, Silver Winner

“We’re a public transit company and public transit is seen as the bottom of the barrel,” Bourbonniére told Loyalty360. “Everyday workers going to work. The fact that this industry recognizes that this segment of the population is something that really has a lot of potential. It says it very strongly today with the two awards.”

Bourbonniére said a whopping 65% of Montrealers uses public transit every day.

“Our main objective is to retain our customers,” he said. “We lose 30% of customers through attrition each year. Now, having a program like this we know the individuals and can talk to them individually and change their behavior, better inform them, and change their customer experience.”

The program launched in May 2013 and quickly gained traction, attracting excellent reaction on Facebook and Twitter, along with a front page article in the Wall Street Journal.

“We can bring partners to party that can help them,” Bourbonniére said. “Now we have the results of the first year, and we see some tremendous potential.”

Bourbonniére said the initial pilot phase opened the new service to 20,000 customers that has now grown to 2.5 million.

“This thoughtful approach gave us the opportunity not only to collect feedback and listen to customer comments, but also see in real time, what offers were selected and redeemed,” he said. “The high level of repeat usage by consumers demonstrated the direct relevancy of the new service and the compelling value proposition. Furthermore, results are astounding with 24% of consumers using the service increasing their use of public transit, 57% discovering new destinations by public transit, either shopping or event related, 43% now using public transit for other reasons; work or school and 47% taking a friend along. The new program contributed to our corporate objectives to increase use of public transit during off-peak hours and generate new revenue and customer base for STM in a big way.”

STM has 1,340 partners.

“The biggest surprise is the number of partners that has knocked at our doors and said they want to be part of this,” Bourbonniére said. “Feedback is done dynamically and in real time. Our motto is the right product, the right customer, at the right place, at the right time. It’s very unique to have that many partners. We’ve created an ecosystem. We get 2.2 transactions every day from every one of those customers.”

The program works for STM, Bourbonniére said.

“It increases ridership, increases revenue from a fare standpoint and a non-fare standpoint,” he said. “Traction was pretty immediate in the first month, month and a half. We kept the number at 20,000 members so we could test things.”

A total of 187 entries was submitted across seven categories by a total of 58 brands for the Loyalty360 Awards.

Loyalty360 called on a group of 24 industry experts to apply their extensive knowledge of loyalty marketing to identify the brands that are true Loyalty leaders. Judges were asked to evaluate each entry by applying a score of 1-10 based on how well the brand performed against a number of quantitative and qualitative criteria. The result was an objective and unbiased ranking of loyalty leaders.

Loyalty Expo is being held March 17-19, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida.

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