As we continue to invest in thinking differently about customer loyalty at Clarus Commerce, we’re excited to introduce our new VP of Business Development Jillian Dimoff.
Jillian is a highly respected veteran of the loyalty industry and brings a wealth of experience to Clarus Commerce. She has more than 15 years of experience covering strategic consulting and program design as well as the development and management of technology solutions.
She worked at Kobie Marketing for the past eight years and served as Director of Business Development since 2015. Her expertise includes multi-tender and cross-brand loyalty with major retail brands, in addition to other verticals such as Financial Services, Entertainment, Telecom, and Health Care.
Authenticity and passion are two things that Jillian always carries with her.
We caught up with her last week to talk about loyalty and why she is excited about her new role as VP of Business Development at Clarus. Here’s what she had to say.
Jim Tierney: Can you talk about what drew you to Clarus Commerce and your thoughts on the company’s outlook on premium loyalty?
Jillian: As someone who has been in the loyalty space for over a decade, I’ve seen both agencies and brands evolve over time, and I was really intrigued by a few things.
First, Clarus’ subscription-based or premium loyalty-focused strategy seems to be the future of loyalty. Customers are willing to pay for a customized experience with rich benefits and value propositions.
Everyone wants to be Amazon or compete with Amazon and some brands are just really struggling right now. Clarus’ dedication to loyalty and expanding its practice to be client-and member-focused is fantastic.
I’m truly excited to have the opportunity to help brands stay competitive in the space through technology innovation, personalization, in-store/online/mobile experiences and more. The potential is limitless and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such talented people here.
Second, their straightforward revenue-based pricing model makes sense. For years I’ve seen clients struggle with the various buckets of costs to calculate their budgets on including implementation, ongoing support, licensing fees, technology fees, etc.
It can be overwhelming from a client’s standpoint.
Clarus’ model shows that they are dedicated to their clients’ programs’ success. They’re holding themselves accountable and earning trust and revenue at the same time. The risk and budgetary constraints to a client wanting to overlay a prime loyalty tier or a standalone program is so minimal and it’s a great test and learn environment.
Lastly, I’m drawn to the culture.
Clarus’ focus on work-life balance and providing its employees with opportunities to grow with the company is really amazing. People here are genuine and kind and the enthusiasm is palpable. It’s really refreshing to return to a smaller agency environment where you can be nimbler and clients benefit from this type of atmosphere too!
Jim: Clarus Commerce specializes in premium loyalty. What are your thoughts on premium loyalty in the current marketplace and where it might be headed in the future?
Jillian: Well, I think Amazon is a prime example (no pun intended!). As Amazon has layered in benefits and values like partnerships with Whole Foods, music, movies, free shipping, etc. customers are willing to pay more and more for the value and convenience Amazon provides for them and their families. People want convenience and value and they also want programs to evolve over time. Clarus’ approach to loyalty is spot on and I believe other players are really going to be surprised with what’s next.
Jim: What do you think retailers are doing well connected to loyalty and where do the challenges lie?
Jillian: Retailers that use data-driven insights to know their customers and offer them rich benefits are successful. Starbucks is a great example. They’re so connected with their customers that their program is a culture in itself. Retailers are going to continue to struggle if they’re playing the coupon and sales war.
They could be redirecting those budget dollars away from email marketing campaigns and placing them where it’s going to give them the biggest bang for their buck–loyalty.
We’ve been discussing a lot of Quick Wins engagements for clients where we can think about prime loyalty and the benefits we want to offer to customers with very little investment. It’s really exciting!
We want to help brands evolve and capture their members with experiences and values that Amazon cannot. One benefit retailers have is the opportunity to provide in person experiences and customer service excellence.
Jim: Can you talk about the role of technology and the future of customer loyalty?
Jillian: Technology continues to evolve and now we have these amazing innovations like AI that allow members to experience the brand even when they aren’t in a store or online. Mobile has been a catalyst for loyalty and brands should always be thinking about the mobile experience.
Personally, I prefer to bank, shop and connect with people on my phone. I have two young children and having to sit down at a computer can be hard. We’re all constantly on the run, so technology allows brands to provide convenience and connections anywhere any time.
Jim: How can brands create emotional engagement that fosters brand loyalty?
Jillian: The first step is knowing your customer and what motivates them to purchase. Some customers want to feel important and recognized for their loyalty like gaining a new status on an airline or becoming a VIP.
Other customers may simply be transacting for the convenience factor because they’re busy and that brand just makes life a little easier.
Then there are other customers that acknowledge the rich benefits they gain from the brand (like Amazon for instance) and they feel a strong connection and desire to continue to transact with that brand. No matter what the price.
So, based on these identifiers we discover new ways to reach those customers on an emotional level and provide them with an experience that’s relevant for them.
So many transactions are innately emotional: A date at a movie theater, buying dinner for your family, treating your pet…humans are complex and even things that we do on “auto pilot” are influenced in some way.
One of my favorite things to do is to research a client. I investigate their current strategies, I enroll in their programs and shop at their stores and try to identify the gaps. What would motivate me? How do I feel about this brand? What are other brands and competitors doing or NOT doing? You would be amazed by the things that come out of a brainstorming session.
Jim: What are your goals as you begin your new position at Clarus Commerce?
Jillian: Well, first I want my enthusiasm for Clarus to be contagious. I truly believe in this company and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to have such a tremendous influence over our loyalty strategy and business development footprint.
I’m hopeful that the fingerprint I place on every aspect of the company is positive and powerful. I think that it’s really important to be authentic and passionate about what you do and hopefully the brands we work with will feel like they are being provided with a higher level of service with strategies that are unique for them and their customers.
Jim: How do you see a paid tier/premium co-existing with a free loyalty program?
Jillian: I think premium and free loyalty can co-exist harmoniously. I don’t find paid loyalty that provocative either. They actually complement one another in a lot of ways. Brands should offer loyalty everyone can participate in at their own comfort level.
In fact, data shows that customers in paid programs are more invested in the brand and they’re more likely to transact. For years we’ve had credit card-based loyalty programs (and some of those credit cards have annual fees), multi-tender, and free loyalty programs.
For brands, overlaying a paid tier program, especially one like Clarus offers in a revenue-based model with minimal investment, is a great strategy.
It provides them with an opportunity for a test and learn approach. Co-creation is such a big thing now too. Program members want to be able to influence the strategy and they’re likely to provide input on what’s working or not working to help shape the program in the long term.
Customers also like having a community aspect where they can interact and talk about the brand. Premium loyalty is shaping the industry. Customers have higher expectations and a paid tier is a great way to deliver on your brand promise and provide those experiences customers desire most.