Tamara Oliverio

As loyalty marketers continue to evolve their marketing strategy to remain competitive and exceed the needs of program members, they’re surrounded by disruption and the noise of the latest innovations. Given the complexities that already exist around technology platforms, strategy, people and processes, many ask how do we make sense of all this?

I urge loyalty marketers to pause, just for a moment. Rather than focus on growing complexities, instead ask yourself – how can it be simplified? Bring your efforts back to the basics and think about what matters most to your brand - your customers.

To simplify your strategy in the face of this complexity, be focused, seek feedback often, don’t forget about your internal organization and be authentic.

Be focused: Don’t assume your brand’s goals equal your customers’ goals. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the latest technologies but don’t let it change your focus on customer-centricity. Instead, understand how that technology could change the customer’s experience with your brand. Will it alleviate a pain point? Will it help you exceed customer expectations? Will it help create greater loyalty to your brand? Whatever you do, always keep the focus on the customer.

Seek feedback: Feedback about how your customers feel about your loyalty initiative is essential. A simple ask goes a long way. This can be done with formal surveys and focus groups or a fun, simplified poll as part of your loyalty program. This outreach will also bring to light the human component of your brand. Don’t forget to say thank you for the feedback and down the road show your customers how you are acting on their feedback.

Take an inside out approach: Your employees are the most powerful advocates of your brand. Onboard your loyalty initiative with employees and conduct extensive testing prior to sharing your program externally. Prior to an Epsilon retail client launching their loyalty program, they had their associates enroll in the program and made them an integral part of their loyalty marketing initiatives by seeking their feedback and conducting user testing. And the retailer continues to engage its employees. This past holiday season, the company awarded each employee with a substantial amount of points as a way to thank them for their loyalty to the business.

Be authentic: Humanize your loyalty initiative. Evaluate your communications to ensure messaging is on brand and authentic. Empower employees to drive authenticity. Create an internal committee with representation from all areas of the business to remain focused on this initiative. And remember, training is essential. Don’t assume your associates know how to be authentic. The top 5 emotional skills to provide authentic customer service includes empathy, positivity, active listening, friendliness and patience. Do a check-in with your people to make sure they’re portraying these skills to your customers.

One thing is for certain - in times like these with massive disruption and new technologies all around us, the one that will never change is humanity. Let that ground and refocus your loyalty program around the human element and use it as a guiding light through this disruption.

This article originally appeared on Loyalty360 on March 1, 2018

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