Michelle Malish, Senior Director, Customer Relationship Marketing & Loyalty, TGI Fridays, told Loyalty360 that the company uses its Give Me More Stripes loyalty program as a competitive advantage and that edge helped it secure the Best Creative Campaign in Loyalty Marketing, Silver Winner at the inaugural Loyalty360 Awards held Monday at the 7th Annual Loyalty Expo, presented by Loyalty360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association.

“Fridays is intently focused on growing guest loyalty with a commitment toward strengthening the Give Me More Stripes® program and ensuring we are meeting the needs and desires of our most loyal fans,” Malish explained. “As one of the very first loyalty programs in the casual dining category, the Give Me More Stripes program has been a leader in offering members recognition and rewards for their engagement with our brand. We leverage the Give Me More Stripes loyalty program as a competitive advantage, using member data and insights to enable relevant, multichannel communications that build and sustain engaged relationships, support brand activations, drive incremental traffic, and create brand advocacy.”

Malish said TGI Fridays monitors customer segments and assesses industry and company consumer research.

“We develop, test, analyze and launch new program benefits and concepts that meet our guests’ needs,” she said. “Over the last year, some of these strategic programs we were committed to included: new program concepts based on alternative value propositions; experiential rewards; preemptive retention and winback strategies; customer segmentation and customization; mobile interactions; and social CRM efforts.”

Malish said that the potential benefits of a loyalty program far outweigh the challenges.

“At Fridays, it is a steadfast goal to increase engagement and interest in our brand,” she said. “Our Give Me More Stripes members are our most loyal friends and we simply want to help them go out better. Our members visit more, spend more, and socially share more than other Fridays’ guests. Today’s loyalty programs are complex in technical infrastructure, member communications, cross-channel collaboration, guest relations integration, operational support, data integrity, liability tracking and measurement. The complexity allows us to leverage data assets to right-size promotional investments that drive guest engagement and incremental visits while protecting margin.”

The Give Me More Stripes program launched in April 2008 and has seen many changes in the past six years, primarily driven by guest insights (“voice of the consumer”), Malish said.

“Whether through guest feedback to guest relations reps, self-reported feedback from social/digital/mobile sites, quantitative and qualitative surveys, or direct input from our restaurant operators, we identify and evaluate opportunities for change and improvements to our program,” Malish said. “I believe that our program’s success is based on the trusting relationship we’ve cultivated with our Give Me More Stripes members, treating them like good friends.”

Malish said the trust built with customers isn’t tied to an amazing Fridays visit or a specific membership perk, but has been achieved, over time, by all of the following actions:

Delivering upon our program promises–member perks, in-restaurant recognition, earning “stripes” and redeeming for free rewards

Keeping our friends “in-the-know” about Fridays food and beverages menus and special offers

Inviting members to local parties or exclusive access to events

Energizing the program with fresh benefits, rewards, earning opportunities

Being relevant, personalized and accurate in our member communications

Listening to our Stripes friends when they have feedback and seeking input on new ideas

Making the program easy and convenient by providing “on-the-go” access to earning and redeeming stripes on the Friday’s Mobile App

“Personalization is extremely relevant in our CRM and loyalty strategy,” she added. “Through segmentation and personalization, we are able to be much more relevant in our communications and channel interactions. Depending upon the marketing program, we may use behavioral and personal profile data to tailor messaging content, copy tone, offer strategy, channel, and contact frequency. Our goal is to deliver memorable guest dining experiences, reward members for their loyalty, inspire social sharing, and create brand fans. We want to help our Give Me More Stripes friends go out better and maybe even go out more.”

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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