POSTED : August 12, 2015
BY : Clay Walton-House

For loyalty marketers today, approaching loyalty strategy in an integrated manner means looking holistically across the customer experience to determine where the greatest opportunities exist to impact known drivers of customer behavior. This often requires the application of disciplines that extend beyond the bounds of traditional loyalty marketing. Now, customer experience design, digital technology, and product or service design bring to the fore value propositions that shift consumer perception and increase likelihood to continue patronage of the brand.

So what truisms can be applied for loyalty marketers seeking to enhance their core product or service experience as part of an integrated loyalty strategy?  Three words:  Ease, Simplicity, and Speed.  These three words serve as paradigms for customer experience today, and brands who have focused on them have reaped the rewards in both acquiring new customers, as well as maintaining higher retention and growth rates from existing customers.

What underpins the need for these paradigms are market trends that are inherent to the evolution of our society:

  1. People are more strapped for time than ever before.  The lines between work and personal life are blurred — the “off” button has been replaced by “pause.” Customers have low tolerance for experiences that require more time than they’re willing to give, and as free time becomes more scarce, people are less willing to part with it.
  2. Consumer expectations are skyhigh.  No longer are the days when brands drove the expectation for consumer experience. The customer was left to accept it or find something else. In today’s economy, consumers have the leverage and define the brand. They have a plethora of options available — and are both savvy and demanding in the service and value they receive, leaving little wiggle-room for brands to miss the mark in the experience they deliver.
  3. Digital platforms set the bar.  The proliferation of digital consumer technology has radically changed the way consumers interact with brands and the services they provide. Consumers expect to get what they want, when and where they want it—and that means looking to their mobile devices for on-demand tools and services to meet their needs.

These basic and ubiquitous consumer trends accelerate the need for brands to offer engagement opportunities optimized around Ease, Simplicity, and Speed. Delivery on these paradigms allows brands to stay relevant and build loyalty through their core experience, in addition to traditional loyalty marketing tactics they may deploy.

Look no further than Amazon.com as the company that most fundamentally drives their business through the lens of these three paradigms.  CEO Jeff Bezos and team have built a culture that is founded upon accelerated experimentation, all with the end goal of delivering on these basic consumer needs in a disruptive manner.  They have focused deeply on Ease and Simplicity by optimizing features like one-click ordering, product recommendations, and the returns process—and been market leaders in Speed by investing in a best-in-class fulfillment and distribution model that enables incredibly fast delivery times. Their innovation in this space, in addition to the price competitiveness upon which they are built, has made them the behemoth they are today.  Further, they have developed a very balanced, well-rounded value proposition that is hard to ignore by combining their focus on the core service experience with more traditional loyalty marketing tactics in use with the Prime program. It is for these reasons that Amazon may be the best example of a company who has developed a truly integrated approach to building customer loyalty.

Yet Amazon is not the only company that has focused on Ease, Simplicity, and Speed to great effect.

  • Trunk Club: This retailer saw an opportunity to provide a differentiated customer experience that was built upon Ease, enabled by technology, and still delivered high-end fashion brands with commensurate levels of customer service. The result?  Success where Amazon has struggled. Trunk Club offers highly personalized shopping assistance via the web and phone to ensure customers feel they are getting products that fit their style. A “trunk” is then shipped directly to the customer, who can keep (and be billed) or return the items as they desire, with no obligation to buy—and all with free shipping. This experience puts the choice and control in the hands of the consumer, delivers on Ease and Simplicity, and is a recipe for success in today’s consumer economy.
  • Starbucks: Starbucks is a brand whose rewards program is commonly used as an example of best-practice in program design and execution, yet often overlooked for the enhancement of the core service experience through use of the My Starbucks Rewards app. Allowing customers to load monetary value onto the app and pay for food and drinks using the app itself as mobile payment has accelerated adoption of the rewards program, and offers increased Ease and Simplicity engaging with the brand—something that appeals to even those customers who are uninterested in the rewards offering.
  • Uber: This ride-share company has been an early leader in the “sharing economy” due to their delivery of a streamlined app experience that radically changed the way consumers book a ride. Riders can use the app to see dynamic pricing rates, locate the nearest Uber car, set their desired pickup location, and pay for their ride via stored credit card, requiring no transaction to be run in the vehicle—just book, ride, and hop out of the car.  Ease. Simplicity. Speed.

The customer experiences delivered by these brands provide helpful examples for other loyalty marketers taking an integrated approach to loyalty.

In what ways can you integrate Ease, Simplicity, and Speed into your core product or service experience to enhance value to the customer?  How will these changes dovetail with your existing loyalty marketing tactics?  Where is the greatest ROI?


About the Author

Clay Walton-House serves as Managing Director of Integrated Loyalty Services at PK. He helps Fortune 500 companies create and implement new customer engagement strategies that accelerate growth and build loyalty. His expertise lies in understanding consumer behavior and translating it into actionable customer insights. Clay has a proven track record of successful program design and optimization, helping uncover ways to build retention and loyalty strategies into a company’s broader business model.

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