Brierley, a well-known supplier partner in the customer loyalty industry, recently named Bill Swift to the role of Chief Executive Officer. With a strong background in coding and tech, most recently as the Chief Technology Officer of Brierley, Swift has a vision to bring strategy and technology together to form a cohesive team to truly bring the epitome of customer loyalty programs to its clients.

Mark Johnson, Loyalty360 CEO, spoke with Swift about his new role at Brierley and the challenges and opportunities the company is seeing for its clients in terms of customer loyalty programs, emotional loyalty and the technology involved.

Company Goals Align Strategy and Technology
Brierley was founded over 30 years ago as a marketing company creating profitable loyalty programs. At the time of its formation, there were no technology capabilities to enhance these programs, but with investments over the years and an acquisition NRI (Nomura Research Institute) a technology company out of Tokyo, the company moved from purely an agency to a software-focused company.

Its new platform combines the company’s historical depth and consultive enterprise. Setting the stage for the next year, Swift intends to introduce two company goals: client centricity and being a great place to work.
The company intends to continue its international growth as a technology company, with its differentiator around client success and strategic thought leadership.

Overwhelming Technology is Hard to Swallow. Break it into Bite-Size Pieces.
The tech stack across marketing is overwhelming for companies today, even in the loyalty and customer experience niche. It is necessary for complementary technologies to come together to enable a program experience. The biggest challenge from a tech perspective is the number of choices and complexities involved in making those choices.

Says Swift, “It is important for an organization to have a vision. What are you trying to accomplish and put into market? If a company can break that into small pieces, they can incrementally get there over time.”

The challenge is simplifying that complexity. Most implementations revolve around system integration with loyalty programs in the center, surrounded by the store system, e-commerce, mobile app, etc.

Swift explains that to be successful, the client has to be at the top. “Marketing and technology, operations, e-commerce, all must rally around the customer experience or program that is being enabled. All those groups need to work together. Without strong project management discipline, or a strong presence in marketing strategy and system integration, solutions architects, the program can get lost in a sea of what to do next?”

Customer Loyalty Programs Must Evolve to Succeed
In order to help drive deeper customer loyalty, Brierley offers strategic guidance to its clients in quarterly business reviews. The company offers insights into its clients’ loyalty programs in two distinct parts: what is working and what is not working, and recommendations on next steps.

“Every successful program needs to evolve and change,” says Swift. “There is a cadence that we work through with our clients to help with that continuous evolution. When you bring both technology and strategy together it’s a winning formula.”

Periodic Health Assessment Track Vitals of Loyalty Programs
Though customer loyalty programs are evolving and becoming more complex on a daily basis, brands are still lacking reports, metrics, and KPIs to truly measure the success of their investments. Loyalty programs allow brands to collect very tangible data down to the consumer level. At Brierley, reports generated from that data, along with industry-level benchmarks, allow them to better educate their clients on how they compare to the competition and how they can strengthen their loyalty programs.

One way that Brierley works across analytics and strategy is by offering FAST-Track consulting to its clients. These consulting efforts break down a group of modules across analytics and another across strategy to perform a product health assessment of the client’s loyalty program when compared with industry benchmarks. Clients come away with tangible next steps from these consultations to know how to best evolve the program.

Brierley offers several of these fast-track consultant modules:

  • Health Assessment
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Competitive Evaluation
  • Emotional Loyalty Track (Emotional loyalty defined by Swift as the hearts and minds of the consumer. How connected they are with the brand and the experience.)
Marketing and Technology Must Work Together
Technology is rapidly evolving, and today there is a great opportunity to connect facial recognition software with customer loyalty. Brierley suggests offering customers an opt-in experience to add their photo to their profile to use as a form of identification, whether it is for loyalty or payment. It is a natural progression to use this technology in a retail setting. Stores already have customer-facing displays at point-of-sale and digital displays throughout the store. It is a great opportunity while consumers become more comfortable with that next level of opt-in relative to privacy.

Swift stresses that this integration of technology will help enable a seamless experience that all businesses are striving toward, adding, “In general, it’s having the desired customer experience to lead the tech implementation.”

There is a trend in customer loyalty programs for marketing and technology to work concurrently together to focus on all the steps necessary to form a successful program for both the consumer and the company. It is not simply a matter of strategy, but a highly integrated approach that combines technology, CX and loyalty marketing.

Says Swift, “Any successful program has to have that core value proposition.”

Today’s customer loyalty programs are much more than point accrual. Customers want an experience. They want a high level of engagement that gives them an emotional connection to the brand. With the knowledge that brands have about the customer, they need to make the best use of the data they collect and create valuable experiences to bring those customers back time and time again.

Swift adds, “It’s great to see the end result, but the journey to get there is key. If we can break down that journey into individual steps it takes to get there, we can share insight on how to achieve that vision.”

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