During a panel discussion titled, “The Changing Role of Leadership in Building Customer Loyalty,” at the 9th Annual Loyalty Expo, presented by Loyalty360 – The Association for Customer Loyalty, Loyalty360 CEO and CMO Mark Johnson asked panel members about trends in customer loyalty.

Seth Rabinowitz, SVP, Marketing & Fan Engagement, New York Jets answered the question quickly and succinctly.

“The biggest trend is getting into this space,” Rabinowitz said.

His simple and straightforward response speaks volumes about how crucial effective customer loyalty programs and customer engagement initiatives are in the loyalty marketing arena, and what they can do as far as forging key points of differentiation.

Staying top of mind with customers throughout the year is another big trend.

“Understanding what is sacrosanct and aligning your loyalty program against your brand is absolutely critical,” Bob Macdonald, President, Bond Brand Loyalty, said at Loyalty Expo. “Find out how members want to engage with you.”

During another session at Loyalty Expo titled, “Creating Super Hero Fans Through Targeted, Personalized Experiences,” Brad Marg, COO, Clutch, said: “We want customers to stay engaged.”

It may seem like an innocent point, but keeping customer engaged and comprehending the communications sent to them from brands is imperative to gaining and retaining customer loyalty.

Stuart Slutzky, Chief, Product Innovation, HumanaVitality , talked about the success of the company’s loyalty program during his session, “Building an Incentive Program that Keeps Customers Engaged Year After Year,” at Loyalty Expo.

In a bold step to help its health plan members live healthier lives, HumanaVitality’s wellness and loyalty program offers a wide range of well-being tools and reward-partners through a joint venture with the program’s parent, Discovery Holdings. A key element of the program includes a sophisticated health-behavior-change model supported by an actuarially sound incentive program.

Slutzky said the HumanaVitality program keeps customers engaged year after year. It has 45,000 employer clients and 3.7 million members. It is scientifically based and embedded across all Humana fully insured employers.

The program drives real change through personalized goals and activities, verifiable results, broad and affordable access, and intelligent incentives.

It motivates through a fun member experience (interactive website, complete a health assessment, receive your Vitality Age, select goals to improve risks or maintain health, engage in a personal pathway, and enjoy Vitality points and Vitality rewards.

What’s more, the program offers a broad range of partners seamlessly integrated to track activities and engagement. The program offers more than 8,000 fitness facility locations and online telephonic coaching.
Members receive an initial status, activating wellness (complete health assessment), committing to wellness (set goals and ongoing engagement in activities; show positive outcomes).

“Gamification of the program plays a big role in our engagement,” Slutzky said.

During his mini-session for the CX & Engagement category within the Loyalty360 Awards, Dave Krupa, CMO for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, said that engagement, though very challenging at times, is critical to reaching the ultimate goal of brand loyalty and advocacy.

“In this age, we believe engagement and loyalty will win,” he said. “Engaged members are healthier, more likely to recommend to others, and more likely to renew policies. That is the Holy Grail of loyalty.”

Tim Cruz, Dell Advantage Loyalty Program Manager at Dell, spoke after Krupa and noted his company’s key loyalty-related goals are effectively listening to customers, understanding what they want, and keeping them engaged.

It boils down to being at the right place at the right time with the right message.

“The majority of what we do is bringing relevant information to customers,” Ken Thewes, Chief Marketing Officer of Regal Entertainment Group, said during his session, “How to Connect Customers to Your Brand,” at Loyalty Expo.

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