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9 posts from November 2015

How American Express and IBM build B2B loyalty

Building loyalty within the B2B category can be very challenging, especially if price negotiation has taken place. Suppliers may feel they've already invested in a customer.  IStock_000019813515XSmallUnfortunately, the B2B customer may not feel the same way. After the sale, the best ongoing signal of support for a B2B customer is helping them succeed with their customers. For instance Jim Griffing, founder of Griffing & Company accounting, always helps his clients understand if their operating expenses are inline with industry standards. IBM helps its big customers by sharing original marketing research on its customers's customers, and American Express helps its small customers with advertising and promotions

IBM Global C-suite Study: Introduction

American Express Muppets Commercials released in 2015: Miss Piggy

Excerpt from Boston Herald: AmEx drops Small Business Saturday perk, 2015-Nov-28

Over the past five years, American Express has dangled a carrot to encourage cardholders to patronize independent stores on Small Business Saturday: statement credits from $10 to $30.

As the sixth annual homage to mom-and-pop shops starts today, AmEx cardholders who make a conscious decision to forgo the big chains must settle for a warm-and-fuzzy feeling in addition to whatever bargains they pick up.

AmEx, a longtime promoter of Small Business Saturday, isn’t making the incentive widely available this year to cardholders, according to its website.

“This year we are not offering a statement credit offer on Small Business Saturday,” the company said on the “Shop Small” section of its website. “In past years, the offer was one of the ways to encourage our customers to make a habit of shopping at small businesses as they begin the holiday season.” The company’s ShopSmall Twitter page addressed questions from consumers asking about the credit. “No incentive to shop small,” atom58 tweeted to ShopSmall.

American Express said it would continue to promote Small Business Saturday through local and national advertising. It said 55 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of the day — the highest figure yet recorded in a survey done on AmEx’s behalf.

Retail trends toward non-retail experiences

Retail experiences have been a trend for quite awhile. Stores from Hershey, Apple, and Anthropologie all broke new ground, but they always filled the store with things to buy. Now, the latest retail experience is to have less merchandise, more something else...  IStock_000018963885XSmall

NY Times: For Brands Like Toms, It’s All About the Experience, 2015-Nov-13 by Steven Kurutz

“Getting people into stores has become a huge challenge because the e-commerce experience gets better and better,” said Kim Vernon, a fashion brand consultant and industry veteran. “The smartest thing you can do is to get people in your store.”

The ways brands are doing that vary. Some, like Toms, are turning to coffee and events. Kit & Ace, a new streetwear brand with retail outlets in Canada, England, Australia and the United States, holds quarterly “Sunday Suppers,” catered by a local chef and promoted by word of mouth.

Nina Garduno, who founded the retail outlet and artist commune Free City Supershop in Los Angeles, is teaming with Light in the Attic, a record label, to open a pop-up record store in January. The concept is the latest in an annual reimagining of her retail space in which Ms. Garduno and her team develop a theme, asking artists to help create products, décor, art installations and events around it.

Simplicity drives loyalty for Google, Netflix, Amazon, Chipotle...

Recently recognized for their ability to delight customers with simplicity of use, Google, Netflix, IStock_000022889089XSmallAmazon and Chipotle made it to the top five of the "simple brands" identified by customer experience strategy consultant Siegel+Gage. 


Among the up-and-coming "simple brands," Dollar Shave Club says "Dollar Shave Club couldn't be simpler. Select one of our great blades, pay only for the cost of your blades, and we send ’em right to your door every month." At Seamless, they say "we make ordering food for delivery and takeout seamless!"

Harvard Business Review: Why Simple Brands Win, 2015-Nov-9 by Margaret Molloy

Customer experience is the new battleground for loyalty. Years of findings in the Global Brand Simplicity Index demonstrate that when brands build cultures of simplicity, all parties benefit. Employees have the clarity to innovate and deliver superior customer service, consumers have better brand experiences, and ultimately reward brands with their loyalty.

Growth is welcome and inevitable for any successful company—but complexity is an unavoidable side-effect of growth. Companies must be on the lookout to simplify processes and create fresh and clear brand experiences. A commitment to simplicity starts at the top. Senior management must be committed to implementing practices that encourage simplicity. Brand purpose—what a brand does and why it does it—should be articulated in a way that is easy for employees to internalize, and customers must view a brand and its services in a manner consistent with this purpose. While it is necessary to look inward to refine and simplify, ultimately the customer’s perspective matters most.

Gamestop follows its customers, not the critics

GameStop is always getting grief from market analysts who say they will fail as did Radio Shack with their mall stores and their focus on selling games in boxes. IStock_000021700803XSmallBut the 32 million people participating in "PowerUp Rewards" provide GameStop with up-to-the-minute data about customers. Over the last year, GameStop has followed these customers into mobile: 

VentureBeat: CMO Roundtable: Turning one-time app installs into loyal users, 2015-Nov-13

GameStop first launched its mobile app in 2014. But as [VP, Multichannel Jason] Allen says in the webinar, GameStop listened to its customers and then delivered what they really wanted — not what GameStop believed they wanted.

“Our customers were asking for three to five things they wanted to do on the app,” he says.

These included the ability to look up trade-in value for games and consoles, finding the nearest store, and other simple capabilities that allowed GameStop to develop one-on-one relationships with some of its most loyal customers, says Allen.

Says GameStop CMO Frank Hamlin... 

Loyalty 360: GameStop is Thriving in Brand Loyalty, 2015-Nov-11 interview by Jim Tierney:

“There is an organization-wide level of attentiveness to the attitudes of our core customers, particularly as it relates to console gaming,” he said. “So as a result, we have to keep our ear to the ground. Through the power of our rewards program, we are tracking 75% of our sales and, through that, we have a strong electronic relationship with most customers...."

And GameStop continues to build customer engagement:

Mobile Strategies 360: GameStop Refreshes its mobile assets, 2015-Oct-28 by April Berthene:

Also new in the GameStop app is the onboarding process. GameStop asks a consumer when he creates his profile in the app to choose his favorite gaming platforms. GameStop then personalizes the app for him with those games’ theme colors and backgrounds, and suggests new games for him based on what he likes.

Recently, GameStop integrated content from Gamer Informer magazine into its iOS and Android apps, which has boosted daily return uses to the GameStop app, the spokeswoman says. The video game magazine features news articles on the gaming industry, reviews of video games and consoles, and gaming strategy articles.

All of these app initiatives combined have resulted in an increase of daily unique visitors to the iOS and Android apps to twice what they were last year, the spokeswoman says.

The critics may be right in that gamers may stop using the GameStop stores, but I have a feeling that this company will be the first to know where they're going and how to keep them satisfied. 

MW Cleaners shows how to reward customers for natural loyalty

Most companies want you to do something unnatural to be rewarded. Like "buy again with 15 days" or "spend $100 on your next visit." At MW Cleaners (owned by The Men's Wearhouse), IStock_000022989689XSmallPresident Mike Nesbit came up with a great reward, but then took it one step further. They identified the customers who'd ALREADY earned the reward and gave it to them. 

National Clothesline: Mike Nesbit: What's Important, 2014-Aug

One way the chain is trying to improve customer service is by offering its clientele something that it can’t get anywhere else. About two years ago [2012], it started a rewards program. In it, customers who have had the same shirt cleaned 20 times with them are given a $50 credit at Men’s Wearhouse so they can buy a new shirt.

“It’s been a really big deal,” Mike said, estimating that MW Cleaners has handed out thousands of credits so far. “When we first started, we actually went back retroactively. Think about it, you start a program and if you start it from the beginning, it’s going to take your customers 20 times, which could take them two years or more to get something cleaned that many times. I wanted to do something with instant gratification.”

How the Verizon Wireless 'Smart Rewards' Program Backfires, Erodes Customer Loyalty

For our family wireless service, we switched from AT&T to Verizon several years ago, and we've found them eager to provide reliable, high-quality service. So we've been loyal. A couple of months ago, I ran a price comparison and found that Verizon remains a superior value.   IStock_000019396853XSmall

So when Verizon launched their Smart Rewards program, I expected it would offer good value to its customers. Since we'd been customers for a few years, we started the program with over 100,000 points, and I spent a couple of hours trying to find a way to spend them for something we'd really enjoy. 

I was very disappointed. Most rewards require us to spend a substantial amount of our own cash. Freebies are very hard to access. And how come they can't let us convert even a small part of the points to paying off our bill, the way American Express does? Or maybe we could use it to get more data for special occasions?

So then I started searching to see what other people thought and found others equally miffed. In fact, the whole program is more geared to Verizon collecting data rather than rewarding customers. All of which contributes to their soaring profits. 

When rewarding our customers we have to look first at two big issues: 1) What benefits do our customers look to use to provide? 2) What values do we share with our customers? 

Ad Exchanger: Verizon Rewards Program Draws Customer Ire, Putting Mobile Data Sharing at Risk, 2015-Nov-5 by Allison Schiff

Many Verizon customers perceive that the company's Smart Rewards loyalty program – which, it should be noted, requires users opt in to be tracked for advertising purposes through Verizon Selects [emphasis added]– leaves much to be desired. As one Redditor commented in September, “It mostly exists to con you into buying things from partners at prices that aren’t particularly competitive.”...

It’s an aggressive move into digital ad monetization, a space typically populated by Facebook, Google, et al, and the opportunity for advertisers is clear. As Gartner research director Martin Kihn put it in a previous interview with AdExchanger, Verizon is creating “a mini-Facebook killer for mobile sales.”

For its part, Verizon is framing its intentions, as least to consumers, as a help-us-help-you sort of play. An email received by some Verizon subscribers in late October pointed to an explainer page claiming that the combination of the Verizon/AOL data sets “will help make marketing you see more personalized and useful to you across the devices and products you use.”...

All users start out with at least 10,000 points when they join, with the chance to win [emphasis added] additional points for doing fairly easy, run-of-the-mill stuff like paying bills, opting for electronic payments or upgrading devices. For example, participants can get 10 points for every dollar spent.

Although points can’t be applied to a phone bill [emphasis added], rewards run the gamut from the chance to enter sweepstakes to discounts off Verizon products, meals at local restaurants, travel and select merchandise.

Users can also put their points toward gift cards – say, 1,000 points in exchange for $10 off a $100 Denny’s gift card, meaning the customer is still responsible for shell out [emphasis added] $90 – or enter live auctions to win gift cards or merchandise.

The Motley Fool: Verizon Communications Inc. Earnings: Solid Wireless and FiOS Results Propel Shares Higher, 2015-Oct-20 by Joe Tenebruso

Verizon added 1.3 million new monthly wireless subscribers in the third quarter, which topped analyst expectations of only 1.1 million, according to Bloomberg. In addition, Verizon continues to show signs of strong customer loyalty, with its retail postpaid churn rate remaining low at 0.93%, a 7-basis point improvement from the year-ago quarter. That's impressive because it shows that Verizon is not only adding new customers, it's also doing an excellent job of keeping its existing customers....

More importantly, Verizon remains a cash-flow-generating machine. Even after adjusting for a non-reoccurring $2.4 billion gain related to the monetization of tower assets in the first quarter, operating cash flow increased to $26 billion in the first nine months of 2015, up from $23.2 billion during the same period of 2014. And adjusted free cash flow (excluding the tower sale) totaled $13.5 billion during the first three quarters of 2015, up from $10.5 billion in the year-ago period.

Top 3 crowd-sourced loyalty tips from business owners via Paytronix

Paytronix, a leader in retail loyalty solutions, holds their own User Experience conference, and this year they asked attendees to share their most important advice for each other. IStock_000019329088XSmallFrom their October 2015 newsletter: 

If you missed PXUX this year, here are the key takeaways fifty of your peers identified on our last day of the event:

  1. Don’t give mass discounts to high-frequency members – they will come in anyway.

  2. Use target and control campaigns to calculate incremental lift and definitively answer the question: “Would they have come in anyway?”

  3. When you send an email, resend the exact content a few days later with a different subject line to those who did not open the first email.