While Bond Brand Loyalty’s 2017 Loyalty Report reveals that marketers are still missing opportunities to drive business results, a big surprise rose to the surface.

Loyalty360 caught up with Kyle Davies, director marketing research, Bond Brand Loyalty, to find out what the surprise was and other assessments of the report.

What is your biggest surprise from the study?
Davies: One of the biggest surprises is the fact that member satisfaction drops more quickly than we might have expected immediately after somebody has made a redemption. We would have expected somewhat of a ‘honeymoon period’ where satisfaction remains high because the memory of the redemption is fresh, however, results show that in many cases satisfaction starts to drop almost immediately and continues as the redemption gets further and further into the rear-view mirror. It really speaks to the importance of focusing on post-redemption re-engagement.

Is there any result that doesn’t make sense based on previous studies?
Davies: One of the things that was initially surprising is that for some demographics when we tested adding the “ability to interact with the program through your mobile device”, that program appeal actually went down slightly. We dug a bit deeper and found this was true particularly of the 50+ audience–what we think is going on is that mobile for the sake of mobile is not enough–if a program’s mobile functionality is meaningful and creates a better member experience it will be valued, but simply adding mobile does not make a program more attractive until people understand the benefits.

What improvements do you think brands have made in customer loyalty in the past year?
Davies: We are always encouraged when we see programs augment the core ‘earn and burn’ functionality with benefits that create a better overall experience with the brand. Features such as order-ahead for your coffee or groceries acknowledge the fact that members have limited time to spend. Free tailoring for members of apparel programs, ‘parental leave’ benefits from top tiers of airline programs, the ability to choose your hotel room–these are all examples of programs doing a better job of acknowledging their customers, and working hard to create a better customer experience.

Where do the challenges remain?
Davies: Personalization of communications remains elusive for many programs. We often hear from people who say they are frustrated that their programs seem to continually communicate with them about topics that aren’t relevant or meaningful to them. Loyalty programs give marketers the powerful ability to better understand peoples’ preferences and behaviors–but when they don’t use this information to create more tailored, personalized communications and experiences, members get frustrated.

Where do you think customer loyalty is headed?
Davies: We think loyalty and customer experience will further integrate and become interwoven to the extent they may not be decipherable in the future. Loyalty will move far beyond just being a points currency for future discounts or redemptions, but will be the primary tool through which brands will get to know and engage with their best customers. Enhancements, benefits, and great customer experiences will be delivered through formal and informal loyalty programs and mechanics in a way that will make programs more effective for the companies that operate them and, at the same time, more enjoyable and beneficial for their members.

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