Thinking About Launching a Loyalty Program? Consider These Five Components Before Making a Decision! Part Two


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In our previous entry, we reviewed two of the five components in creating a sustainable customer loyalty program. In this second entry we will review the other three components: operations, platform selection, and vendor selection. These components, along with benefits and program structure discussed previously, provide guidelines to aid in structuring a customer loyalty program. A successful program not only allows companies to reward their customers but also enriches their own business with valuable customer data and feedback.


The first aspect of operations to consider is data collection and cleansing.
• What kind of data should be collected – just transactional data or behavioral/attitudinal/demographic data as well?
• By which mechanism will data be collected?
• Where will the data be stored?
• How will the data be reconciled to ensure customers cannot cheat the program?
• With regard to reconciliation, how will statements be generated and how often?
• How will data be reconciled with the redemption partner to ensure the customer account remains in balance with regard to program accruals versus redemptions?

The second thing to consider is staffing.
• Who will be responsible for data collection and cleansing?
• For facing the customer to answer day-to-day inquiries?
• For monitoring redemption activities? And for researching and reconciling data issues?

Trust me, there will be data issues, there will be calls about balances, there will be inquiries about when to expect delivery of a redemption item, etc.

Platform Selection

When considering technology to manage loyalty, the platform should deliver end to end needs such as:
• Provide the ability to support data collection and points accumulation/management.
• Allow for periodic statements to be pulled and distributed easily.
• The Loyalty Administrator handling day-to-day operations should be able to quickly and easily review all aspects of a customer’s information from his/her participation level to the last time points were redeemed.
• Track inquiries and issues from inception to completion including analytics on these to evaluate trends.
• Member portal where customers can access their loyalty status online, as well as redeem from this same location. A portal can also be used to collect additional information from customers upon login using interruption survey tactics.
• Ability to import and export data for redemption fulfillment – This includes both the export of points or monetary value the customer has to spend, as well as the import of what the customer redeemed for, in order to evaluate item popularity to make adjustments over time.

Vendor Selections

Plan for success – Your Roadmap Partner. First thing’s first – prepare to participate in a roadmap planning exercise to map the long-term vision of the loyalty program and how to get there. A few things come to mind with regard to the planning activities, such as: the multiple iterations the program will likely go through as it matures, the financial investment necessary to implement initially as well as to continually improve and the personnel commitment in the short-term and down the road as the program grows. As a part of the planning process consider gathering insider information by hosting a loyalty roundtable. Who better to learn from than those managing successful programs? Conduct research at both the customer level, and the distributor level in B2B industries to find out what entices them and what they consider “easy” to participate in.

Platform Success – Your Implementation Partner. Consider a partner who will provide the necessary guidance to select the right platform to support the current and future needs of the program. The team should be knowledgeable to guide and execute the implementation from inception to completion. In the vendor’s eyes ongoing coaching, support and training should be considered crucial to the success of the project.

Rewards Success – Your Redemption Partner. Choosing the right redemption partner is critical to the customer experience. Ensure customer satisfaction by considering things like: a redemption site that is easy to navigate, extended phone access for multiple time-zone coverage, and a high rate of deliveries that are both on-time and in-tact. Processing a redemption transaction should be easy for the customer and there should be ample rewards to choose from at the right price. Lastly, the technology platform of this partner should integrate well with your systems to ensure the customer pass-thru is seamless.

Branding Success – Your Marketing Partner. Select a partner that will aid in generating excitement! What will the program be named? What visuals can be developed to best connect the program to the overall company brand? How will the program be marketed – printed collateral, digital media, scripts for targeted calling campaigns?

Operational Success – Your Administration Partner. Nothing says you have to manage the program yourself! Consider outsourcing this aspect to a firm that can provide a full time employee at a fraction of the cost. This outsourced role can be responsible for the day-to-day activities like program member interactions, monitoring data collection and cleansing, statement and redemption reconciliation and periodic program analytics. This leaves folks in your organization free to focus on the more meaningful aspects of the loyalty relationship and developing future strategy.

Tricia Desso-Cox, MM
Tricia has over 20 years of experience in customer service, 15 years user training experience on several platforms and processes, 10 years of business operations management, master data management, business process design and business analyst/project management work. Her credentials include a Masters in Management, Bachelors of Science in Business Management, a Green Belt in Six Sigma, and the Microsoft Sure Step Certification.