Loyalty360 Throwback Thursday | Thought Leaders in Customer Loyalty – Episode 1

Loyalty360’s Throwback Thursday video series brings together several of the best responses from Loyalty360 member thought leaders on recent topics, trends, and discussions.

In this episode we asked, “What is the biggest challenge and/or opportunity you are seeing regarding customer loyalty and customer experience today?”

Thanks to our members from ICF Next, Kobie Marketing, Social Media Link, Engage People, cxLoyalty, and Clarus Commerce for participating!

What is the biggest challenge and/or opportunity you are seeing regarding customer loyalty & customer experience today?
Guy Cierzan, Managing Partner, Loyalty, at ICF Next
I think loyalty historically has been critically important and a strategic asset for a brand to engender customer loyalty, retention, repeat purchase. In times of crisis, as we saw with the global financial crisis in 2008, 2009, and as I think we’re confronting right now with COVID-19, loyalty again becomes a paramount asset to leverage to ensure that you’re continuing to keep communications, and as much as possible, your value propositions, your relationship with your most loyal and most valuable customers in play and supported. I think, very much, it’s an aspect that can be leveraged in times of crisis, but maybe not in the traditional way that we think about it where we’re extending a lot of rewards and offers and marketing messages. Perhaps now it’s used as a more important channel to get real-time information, critical messages related even to operations, think about a retailer or a travel hospitality company. It’s really important and a strong conduit to your customers and to your most loyal members.
Marti Beller, President at Kobie Marketing
I think one of the biggest challenges, and it’s interesting this really exists at some of the largest brands in the world, is that they look at their loyalty initiative, and especially if they have a points program, and they’re seeing it to some degree as an expense and I’m always surprised by that … But what we do, and what we’re really focused on, is the opportunity that sits inside that, which is to expand the understanding of how these programs are really intended to drive greater impact from a customer engagement, a customer lifetime value and, of course, a bottom line perspective driving incremental sales or interactions, whatever is important to that client. I think the current challenge is people looking at just a piece of their loyalty initiative and not seeing the total picture of it and I think that’s why the advisory services side of what we do is so important to our business, is to really shine a light beyond just the nuts and bolts of what goes through a system or a process. I think that that’s probably going to increase to some degree after we come out of this pandemic.
Susan Frech, Co-Founder & CEO, Social Media Link
The foundational elements haven’t changed, you better have a good product, it better be at the right price for what you’re delivering, you have to deliver on your brand’s promise, you have to have good customer service because of the way the Yelp’s of the world work today. Those are table stakes, and that’s not what’s driving loyalty, that’s what could be driving purchase, but not necessarily loyalty and loyalty, from what we’re seeing from all the communities we build and manage, to also the research and studies we’ve done over the past 10 years is built on an emotional connection. Those that want to win with customer loyalty, they’re creating a sense of belonging, have shared values, they’re able to bring together like-minded. Even in a B2B world, you’re bringing like-minded marketers together. This is an opportunity to create this home and destination and we also work with a lot of smaller brands and the community has actually allowed them to win against some of the really big brands because instead of retention, they look at relationship and building that relationship first. They don’t have massive media dollars that maybe a larger brand has so they have to rely on having that relationship with the consumer so that consumer will go out and advocate for them or talk about them. We really think it’s not just about a community for fandom and where your greatest fans go but it’s a place for you as the marketer to tell your story. That’s always the odds thing. They get behind the curtain and say what we’re about but it’s also for you to listen and hear the consumer story because that emotional connection is why when they are standing up that shelf and they're looking at a row of oral care products and they have joined your community and they love your brand, they know why you deliver what you deliver, where your products are sourced from, they're more likely to purchase your product and they're more likely to tell people about it so that loyalty really comes from having that emotional bond.
Len Covello, Chief Technology Officer, engage
I think there's a number of challenges. I think technology availability is a challenge in general so access to solutions that can really create that engagement with that customer. Customers today are looking for
a more personalized experience, more opportunity to use that program and I think that technology's there. I recommend that they start with the member-first so that customer who's interacting with the program is you want to create emotional engagement with that customer, so going through that user experience on all aspects of how that programs run so how they earn and make sure that that's unique and tailored specifically to what that customer is looking for, directly to ultimately that
Todd Siegel, Chief Executive Officer, cxLoyalty
I think some of the challenges brand see is we're living in a world of more information than ever and I think that the brand's, what you say and what you do matters. The brands have to make sure that they're focused on delivering upon the brand promise that they give to their consumers and I think that's why a lot of them are taking a lot of internal initiatives to ensure that their loyalty and engagement programs are top of mind with their consumers and they're looking to outsource it to entities like us who could help them along that journey.
Carlos Dunlap-Beard, VP, Loyalty Solutions, Clarus Commerce
The biggest challenge today is loyalty is hard. Getting someone to focus is hard. For any of us that have kids or teenagers, just think of them as a consumer. To get their attention beyond 60 seconds, that's a difficult thing, so getting people's attention and getting them to focus on something, it's very difficult getting them to be loyal beyond the norm is difficult. To get them to choose you over your competition
every time is difficult. Coded now with what's gone on and what's happening and what continues to happen and what we all wonder about what the new normal is going to be coming out of this, that's made things even more to difficult especially for retailers that are non-essential retailers as in, the new definition has become those who are luxury brand retailers are really struggling right now and so you know there's the loyalty factor, the need to drive loyalty, drive engagement, retain customers or even win customers back is more important than ever and more difficult as well.

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