How Salesforce models loyalty

Salesforce is a tremendous tool for enabling loyalty among our customers. The only challenge is figuring how to use the overwhelming amount of data and activities it provides. (We can help you with that.) 

Being a part of the Salesforce user base inspires loyalty in many different ways. When I quit my last job I seriously considered consulting for Microsoft Dynamics. (You can't pry me out of Outlook.) After participating in user groups for both, I found that getting more involved with Salesforce was easier, more fun, and more productive. Free training tools are everywhere. Salesforce the company is extremely loyal to both its customer and its partners. 

Dreamforce has not tempted me. I hate crowds, I prefer online learning tools to the classroom, and I'm not at home with cheerleaders. Out of the blue, I found this story from Salesforce user, yoga instructor and newsletter writer Kelly Barrett. And I found yet another reason to admire Salesforce the company. And maybe I'll buck the trend and go to next year's Dreamforce. But I wouldn't go for the beginning, where they have the free concerts and famous people giving keynotes. I would go for the last day when they share their values and aspirations. 

Om Weekly: What I Learned from a Monk at a Tech Conference, 2016-Oct-11 by Kelly Barrett

...the most inspiring moments came on the last day [of Dreamforce 2016], The Day of Compassion.

Settling into my seat for this final keynote (all are online if you want to watch), the energy was palpably different from the days prior. There was a gentleness, like the calm after a storm. Indeed, the room was nowhere near as full as other sessions, but there also was a sense of easeful engagement, human connectivity and warmth that I hadn't experienced up to that point. On stage came a series of incredible presentations and discussions among people whose life work has been around using compassion to transform people's lives, whether through medicine, mindfulness or humanitarian missions. 


How Wyndham designs a loyalty program for the rest of us

When I travel, I don't look for luxury. I'll pay extra for a unique experience, but I'll also settle for clean and efficient, so I can get out and experience my destination. Wyndham Hotels, with its high percentage of budget and moderately-priced offerings, is looking to appeal to mainstream travelers like myself.

Their loyalty program reflects their customers’ values almost perfectly. They say their target market is the “everyday traveler.” Wyndham Rewards makes it easy to stretch your hotel dollar. In fact, their program came to my attention because they were recently recognized as the program providing the highest economic return for dollars spent. (See research from Switchfly and IdeaWorksCompany at the end of this post.)

Skift: Wyndham Rewards adds Experiences, 2016-May-12 by Deanna Ting

When Wyndham Rewards debuted in May 2015, it signaled a major shift in hotel loyalty program structures by adopting a straightforward, simple approach to earning and redeeming points: 15,000 points to stay at any one of the group’s 7,800 hotels around the world, with no blackout dates, at brands that include Wyndham, Ramada, Tryp by Wyndham, Days Inn, and Super 8.

That strategy appears to be working. Since May, 5 million new members have signed up for the program and there has been a 70-percent increase in property redemptions, according to Wyndham. Last year, just under 75 percent of all redemptions were for hotel stays. By comparison, in 2013, the same year when there was massive consumer backlash to program restructuring, only 55 percent of redemptions were for hotel stays. Today, Wyndham Rewards has more than 45 million members.

Wall Street Journal [paywall]: The Best and Worst Hotels for Cashing in Rewards Points, 2016-Oct-5 by Scott McCartney

Many Wyndham members used to cash in points for gift cards and gas cards. But now they’re booking the company’s most expensive properties in Orlando, Fla., New York, Chicago, Dubai and elsewhere, says Noah Brodsky, senior vice president for loyalty and engagement at Wyndham Hotel Group.

“We’ve made a commitment that we are going to provide an incredibly generous loyalty program. We believe, and the numbers are proving, that by having the best loyalty offering out there we will win people’s business,” Mr. Brodsky says.

The company says it made the change after research showed consumers felt loyalty programs had gotten way too complicated and had been devalued by lack of airline seats.


Customer loyalty is easier to get if you do something unusual

What can we do for our customers they can't find someplace else? Maybe it's just the way we do it that makes the difference. 

NY Times: The Neighborhood Bookstore’s Unlikely Ally? The Internet, 2016-Oct-5 by Amy Haimerl

[Independent book store] owners like Mr. Makin are finding ways to gain customer loyalty with the aid of technology. He knew he could not compete with Amazon on price, but he believed that online buyers would flock to Brilliant Books if they experienced the same customer service that shoppers in his physical store do.

“I say, ‘We are your long-distance local bookstore,’” Mr. Makin said.

He began offering free shipping anywhere in the United States and hired a full-time social media manager, who promotes the store and has used Twitter and Facebook to talk to readers who would never find themselves near Traverse City.

One of his most successful ways of getting repeat business is his store’s version of a book-of-the-month program, which makes personalized recommendations for each of its nearly 2,000 subscribers every 30 days. Rather than use an online form to track preferences, Brilliant sends each new subscriber a customer card to fill out by hand and mail back.


Meet a Loyalty Game Changer at Electronic Arts

Have you seen a program on CBS called Game Changers? We see the tail end of it every Sunday morning before our favorite news program. We noticed its sponsorship by EA Sports and suspected it was a promotion for electronic games. Then we realized the show is about pro athletes serving their communities. So we wondered how EA Sports got involved. Whose idea was it?

A little research revealed several interesting stories about Game Changers and EA (Electronic Arts). 

  1. The Game Changers TV show was developed by an independent production company. Local stations use it to meet the FCC rule to provide children's programming. It's targeted to teenagers, and it's much better than many programs they used to air. We should support it, as EA Sports does. 

  2. The phrase 'game changers' occurs all the time in EA marketing and news. EA recognizes and supports innovation. 

  3. The EA Sports division has had a few different programs going by the name Game Changers. They all support customer involvement, loyalty and community. 

Our research revealed how Electronic Arts has improved its handling of customers over the last few years. So this really is a story about CRM! Changes at EA may have been accelerated by EA's winning Consumerist's Worst Company poll in 2012 and 2013. Yet we saw evidence that employees were already working on new processes before that happened. 

Some people credit the change in top leadership, but listen to this guy who manages their IT systems, who arrived at EA in February 2011. 

Jeff Bradburn of EA (Electronic Arts) as interviewed by Lucian Tucker in blog post Breaking Into the Industry, 2012-Apr-9:

We are always focused on making every single interaction with our customers count. It's another core objective of ours: "Exceed expectations by delighting our customers, the same way our games do." So we want to know as much about our customers as we can and match them with the right agent for their problem.

Most people are familiar with the typical phone experience, where you dial a number and press 1 for X, 2 for Y, etc. We want to take that a step further. If we know our customers – what they own, what they've called about in the past, and (if they allow us to) what they like – we can find an agent that can connect with them based on their need, or even their interests. We are also very interested in the concept of allowing customers to choose their own agent. We've got some really interesting things brewing there.

Another interesting project is around community support. EA is very lucky in that we have very passionate customers that love to participate in forums. We think that there's something really special there for support needs. We want to let customers help other customers and in the process get something uniquely "EA" out of the experience. I can't disclose all of the details, but I think we've really got something special up our sleeves.

And we aren't just focused on our customers. We want to make sure we have the best Customer Advisors (agents) in the world, and we want them to have the best tools in the world. We are investing heavily this year in creating a single unified tool that streamlines the Advisor experience, which ultimately creates a vastly improved experience for our customers.

Jeff Bradburn had a business background from Apple customer support. His team selected Salesforce products and customized it to support EA customers, who are called 'players.'

From the EA success story on Salesforce web site:

EA’s Worldwide Customer Experience team created immersive, interactive websites to help customers quickly access up-to-the-minute status updates, engage with EA game advisors, and discuss hot topics with other members of the community. Most importantly, gamers can immerse themselves in the EA brand. With Salesforce, EA was able to grow its advisor staff from 400 to 1,600 in only 6 weeks. And, EA’s Worldwide Customer Experience websites were able to manage millions of hits per week during peak launch periods.

“Salesforce helped us execute on our transformation at a faster pace than anyone thought would be possible,” says Bradburn. “The close relationships we’re building with customers are a real game changer.” [Emphasis added.]

 Here's why we're very impressed with everything Bradburn and his team at EA have accomplished:

  • 'Players' are recognized as individual people who are connected to other people and often play more than one EA game. 

  • Strong relationships between players and EA employees are nurtured. While this story focuses on the customer support, we also found many stories about strong relationships between players and game developers at EA. 

  • EA invests in training and technology so EA employees can support the players. 

  • Interactions across many different platforms are integrated so the company can operate in the 'omnichannel' style which is so highly prized in customer experience. 

When customers are frustrated and loyalty is dying, employees up and down the organization have to take ownership of the problem and demonstrate they care more about the customer than corporate profits. The CEO is often the worst person to assist because he spends too much time talking to investors, but if he empowers the people who spend all day talking with customers--amazing things can happen. 


Rosetta Stone builds loyalty by helping customers realize their aspirations

One of the most effective ways to build long-term relationships with our customers is to help them become more powerful, successful and fulfilled. You can learn more about this concept from Michael Schrage. Rosetta Stone narrows in on their customers' desire to become multilingual. And they don't just sell a product or service. They commit to transform their customers. 

VentureBeat: How Rosetta Stone transformed old-school loyalty into massive mobile app engagement, 2016-Jul-13, Interview of Rosetta Stone's TJ Hunter by Stewart Rogers

First thing’s first, Hunter says. “Respect the customer. And you do that by understanding what the customer’s problem is. Now decide how mobile can help you continue to solve it — not help you continue to get more users or more usage, because that’ll come naturally.”

For Rosetta Stone, it’s understanding that language learning is aspirational — users want to connect with their own heritage or culture, to travel, to advance, or change their career. And that means the company’s marketing focus is on more than just getting a customer to start the journey with a sale; they see it as a journey to motivate the user to continue using the product so that their aspirations become reality.

“Is it easy? No. In interpersonal human communication, it’s hard to understand what someone is saying and then to be able to respond,” Hunter says. “And in a marketing relationship, it’s even tougher.”

But that focus on communication is what engages customers, and turns them into the kind of fans who become evangelists for life, and keep breathing life into your app — the holy grail of marketing strategy.


Handshakes in CRM

Technology allows us to stay in touch with people and even automates those touches, but technology cannot build a relationship. It builds awareness and educates. To practice CRM, you actually have to maintain a relationship with a customer by interacting with them IRL (in real life). 

Bisnow: Why You Still Need a Handshake, 2016-Aug-22, Interview of Mark Fitzpatrick of RUHM by Kyle Hagerty

Mark isn't suggesting running away from technology; it's become a critical part of our way of life. Instead, Mark wants to reinforce the predecessor of social media: the handshake. While having a robust LinkedIn profile may confirm your credibility, there’s no technology that can replace a strong grip and warm smile to seal a deal. What’s more, beyond gaining new business, interpersonal relationships are just as important for sustaining business. Here are three reasons why:

  1. You Can Build Credibility Through Likability
  2. You Can Network To Make Lasting Connections
  3. You Can Keep Your Personal Brand Personable 


Jet Blue seeks latest tech for helping customers

Committed to staying on the leading edge of customer service, JetBlue has created a technology incubator in Silicon Valley to encourage new solutions to travel challenges. Mozio helps travelers get transportation to and from the airport. 

Loyalty 360:Technology meets humanity for JetBlue and JetBlue Technology Ventures to improve customer experience, 2016-Aug-4 by Mark Johnson

The acquisition of Mozio by JetBlue Technology Ventures is a further indication that parent JetBlue continues to strengthen its technical capabilities in support of its overall mission to inspire humanity. At the core of that effort is finding the best ways to listen to the consumer.

“Because everything is starting with this new way of listening, we are, from the customer perspective, spending time in Silicon Valley looking at that,” Scott Resnick, Director of Loyalty Marketing for JetBlue, told  Loyalty360. “We know there is technology out there that when customers reach out for help, and they’re using a certain tone and certain kinds of words, provides a footprint that can help find the best way to help that customer.” 


At SoulCycle, they really are after your soul

I encountered spin cycling in the later 90's, and quickly realized the quality of the instructor was crucial to a good workout. Maybe that's true for most instructor-led exercise classes, but spin cycling lost all its fun when the instructor had poor music, tempo and coaching skills. And that was WAY before SoulCycle was founded in 2005. My favorite spinning instructor was a small young woman with a drill-sergeant style and great taste in electronic dance music. I learned to love electronic dance music, much more than any type of exercise, including dancing. 

After that instructor left, I was not loyal to that gym. SoulCycle has done a great job of making sure the total experience is addictive: the ambiance, the activities, the people who get to know each other, as well as having extremely well-trained instructors. No loyalty discounts are necessary in these circumstances, although they may offer them. 

Fast Company: SoulCycle Wants You To Join Its Tribe, 2016-Sep by Jonathan Ringen

Skeptics wonder how long the indoor-cycling trend—or any modish exercise—can stay popular. And even if it does, what’s to keep riders loyal to the higher-priced SoulCycle brand? Can such a quintessentially New York experience translate to the rest of the country? And will the riders who give SoulCycle its cachet—all those movie stars and early-adopter cool kids—still show up once everyone is doing it?

To Whelan, these questions totally miss the point. SoulCycle, as she sees it, isn’t competing against other fitness companies. "I always say that our real competition is Netflix," she says, meaning anything that might keep you at home and not out in the world. "SoulCycle isn’t about fitness," she reiterates. "It’s about a very powerful breakthrough for people, which can be physical, but can also be emotional or about community, about connection. Once people connect to it, it becomes part of their life. So, $30 for that?"


Setting out on a journey to create a customer journey map

I recently volunteered to help a sales manager develop a customer journey map for her company. When she left I began sharing it with the CEO, but the CEO was turned off by it. The process seemed completely unnecessary to her (the CEO). 

The CEO and founder does want to share more of the selling and customer management with other people in the company, but she sees that as a matter of assigning tasks. I hope to one day re-introduce the journey mapping process, and this advice from Nielsen Norman Group will help me find the right time and opportunity. 

Nielsen Norman Group: When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps, 2016-Jul-31 by Kate Williamson

Journey maps should always be created to support a known business goal. Maps that do not align to a business goal will not result in applicable insight. The goal could be an external issue, such as learning about a specific persona’s purchasing behaviors, or an internal issue, such as addressing lack of ownership over certain parts of the customer experience. Some potential business goals that journey mapping could be applied toward are listed below.

Shift a company’s perspective from inside-out to outside-in. 

Break down silos to create one shared, organization-wide vision. 

Assign ownership of key touchpoints to internal departments.


Imagine your cooler asking for Pelligrino... Nestle innovations in brand loyalty

Imagine using your loyalty rewards to order a nice cooler. Maybe it will be cheaper because it comes with the logo of your favorite water brand. Now imagine carrying your cooler past a convenience store and that cooler reminding you to buy the branded water. Now imagine it sending a coupon to your phone! 

These ideas are not farfetched to Antonio Sciuto, the CMO of Nestle Waters of North America. Under his leadership, Nestle Waters recently opened a digital lab at the Salesforce offices in Manhattan. And the 'internet of things' is one of the most important frontiers identified by Salesforce. Wait for it. 

Marketing Land: A CMO's View: Nestle Waters CMO Aims to Connect Web, Mobile & Brick-&-Mortar, 2016-Feb-3 by Amy Gesenhues

Antonio Sciuto: At Nestlé Waters, for example, we developed a digitally connected cooler with demographic recognition, iBeacon, and touch screen to enable a personalized consumer experience integrating online and offline leveraging different content based on consumer target and consumption pattern during the day.

In this arena, it will be of particular interest to see the development of near-field communication (NFC): embedded chips in phones to exchange data on contact with objects that have NFC tags.

The price of these tags lowered already at 15 cents, so a large number of companies could build them into a larger number of devices, generating a massive expansion of new interactive experiences.

Ad Age: Nestle Cozying Up to Salesforce with New Digital Lab, 2016

"It's a meeting space for them to bring their retail customers, like grocery chains, and show them what they are doing," said Stephanie Buscemi, exec VP-product and solutions marketing at Salesforce. For Salesforce, having a client on site "is a lab for us that inspires new software functionality," she added. 

Photo by Karen Bryan,