I make a purchase, I get a text. I browse a website, I get an email. The world is moving in real-time so my loyalty program should be responding in real-time as well, right?  
 
Great question. 
 
When we talk to client about real-time. We also talk about the right time. 
 
Think about your customer experience. When is the right time to be messaging. Do you want to thank someone for their purchase as soon as they walk out of your store? Or would you like to wait a day or two so the person has time to reflect on their experience and use some of the times they’ve purchased. When is the right time?
 
Technology allows us to do many things quickly and efficiently. But just because the technology exists, it doesn’t mean it provides the best possible customer experience (think grocery store self check-out). 
 
Thinking about the customer experience you want to deliver:

  • Do we have a product / service that requires real-time connection?
  • What is the message to be delivered in real-time?
  • Will a customers behavior change if they receive that interaction in real-time?
To answer these questions think about:
 
Do we need to have redemption at check out? Or could a customer redeem prior?
Or do we need to message that customer as they’re walking out the door? Or do we wait?
 
You may say yes to real-time redemption. But no to a real time purchase trigger.  
Now you know you need one integration that’s real time. And another that’s batch. 
 
If you believe the best customer experience is one that needs to be delivered real-time, then you need to consider the potential technical implications:
 
  1. Do we have the right technical pieces to go real-time?
The desire to be fast often out paces our technical ability to do so. Client POS partners often are not able to do real-time calls for member look-up, segment / offer retrieval, etc. Would making these work require a new POS? Change of POS  / Upgrade? Additional hardware?  
  1. Can we afford to?
So, you've found the pieces that require an upgrade to be real-time all the time. Was the cost included in the original budget? Moreover, the people-time to do the integration work, was that accounted for in the estimate? Real-time integrations tend to take longer to set up than batch-file integrations.
  1.  Do we have the time to?
Thinking about the 'Iron Triangle' Features/Time/Budget. The rule of thumb is to pick the two most important from the pyramid. Which two were selected? Real-time is a feature, so that means that you have to be flexible on the time-line OR the budget.
 
As you can see, there’s no need to immediately jump to all realtime integrations, just because you can. There may be great reasons to stick with nightly batches or other “close to realtime” processes.

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