There are over 20 different loyalty product and service providers in the U.S. and U.K.
This can make your search for the perfect loyalty partner overwhelming. (And if you’re not yet searching, why aren’t you?)
As you’re narrowing down your RFP list, you will most likely find that there are just as many types of loyalty programs as there are vendors and each vendor probably specializes in only one or two.
For example, some vendors might only support legacy based points systems for grocery. Others might focus only on social sharing for QSR. It’s important to work with a partner that can help differentiate between all the options and build a program that moves your unique KPI’s.
In a time when customer habits are changing and loyalty is decreasing, finding the right loyalty partner is critical for the future success of your brand and choosing the right partner can be daunting.
That’s why we put together a list of five traits that you should look for when seeking out a loyalty program partner.
This one seems like a no brainer, but the years that a loyalty program provider has been in business don’t necessarily equate to the right experience.
Do they understand how consumer preference and loyalty have changed over the past few decades and how consumers are behaving now, or do they simply do the same thing they’ve done for a long time?
You are without a doubt the expert on your customers, but it takes a special set of skills and experience to build a great loyalty program.
That’s why you must partner with a company who has been around to see the rise and fall of legacy loyalty programs like points systems and punch cards and has witnessed the birth of premium loyalty programs like Amazon Prime.
It’s important that your loyalty partner has enough experience to see the big picture.
An experienced loyalty partner must be capable of building you a complete, turnkey solution. That means that from discovery to ongoing support, your custom loyalty program should be built, managed, and optimized under one roof.
At Clarus, we typically take 90 days after discovery to build a custom loyalty program. This includes product name development and product specs, UI/UX design, development, and testing.
Once the program is launched, we provide our partners with access to our client services team and constantly monitor, test, and optimize the program.
We even provide ongoing marketing and creative support for our partners if desired.
When a loyalty program is handled entirely by one team, your customer is given a completely on-brand experience with no gaps.
3. (Your) Customer Focused
This goes beyond general program benefits.
Traditional, off-the-shelf points programs, for example, are one-size-fits-all solutions by nature. They don’t do an excellent job at differentiation and differentiation is what will separate your brand from the competition.
What works in the hotel industry might not work in the retail industry because different customers have different needs.
Your ideal loyalty partner will have experience building programs in your industry and will take the time to discover everything about your business, including what benefits your customers will see the most value in.
Engagement is also critical.
It’s one thing to attract customers to your loyalty program, but what happens once they are a part of your ecosystem?
Traditionally, acquisition alone was the prime objective for companies, but companies are finally realizing that retaining and growing existing customers is the key to stable, long term success.
Amazon demonstrates how valuable Prime members are. They spend nearly five times more per year than non-members.
Make sure your loyalty partner feels the same way and continues to offer enhancement as the program evolves over time.
4. Data Driven
90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone – and with new devices, sensors and technologies emerging, the data growth rate will likely accelerate even more.
The consumers of today (and the future) expect brands to know them and cater to their wants and needs while providing exceptional value which is why good data is so vital.
GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards is a prime example of this. They use the data collected from their premium loyalty program to personalize offers for members which in turn drive three times the sales of non-members.
No matter what industry you are in, you need to use your data to make the best possible business decisions and you need a loyalty partner that can help you collect and interpret this data.
5. Forward Thinking
It’s not enough to understand what works now.
You need to work with a company that is constantly researching, learning and evolving and knows what’s coming down the pike.
After managing loyalty programs for over two decades, we’ve learned a thing or two about retail and where it’s heading.
We saw firsthand the pain of paying shipping and how programs like www.freeshipping.com and Amazon worked to remove the friction from buying online.
We watched loyalty fatigue set in as the points programs of the past, which were once used to differentiate brands, started to become the same.
We witnessed the birth of Amazon Prime and we’re seeing a lot of retailers struggling to survive The Amazon Effect.
Most importantly, we know that it’s possible for them to win back customers with a premium loyalty program that can drive engagement through personalization, provide a true omnichannel experience, and collect the best data on your best customers.
Make sure the loyalty partner you’re considering isn’t only focused on what worked in the past or even what works today. Make sure they are laser focused on the future and how to win in a world where competition is fiercer and consumers have more choices than ever before.
Your Loyalty Partner Is An Extension Of Your Company
If it seems like finding the right loyalty partner is a major project, that’s because it is.
Just like with branding or manufacturing, finding the right partner is as important as the end product itself because the foundation determines how successful the result can be.
Can an off the shelf product truly capture the best of your brand?
I don’t really think so.
A great loyalty partner is really an extension of your company and a loyalty program is a part of your brand.
From marketing to design to IT to customer service, a loyalty program touches so many points within your business.
It all has to work together seamlessly to give your customers the best experience possible.
After all, a great loyalty partner has just as much at stake in the program as your company does.
If you would like talk more about these traits, or what goes into building a custom premium loyalty program, contact us anytime.