What's loyalty got to do with the United Airlines incident?

I was really surprised when Quartz published an article shaming loyal United customers for defending the airline. That's bleed-over from partisan politics in my opinion. Everyone needs to stop vilifying people on the other side of an issue. A more thoughtful analysis of the incidence as an example of 'privilege' was offered up on the New York Times without saying that loyalty programs are a part of the problem. 

Here's why I think "loyalty" has little to do with what happened when United forcibly 're-accomodated' a physician recently. 

  • Loyalty flows both ways. The airlines reward people who comply with their rules. (Some rules are cruel and need to be outlawed. The rule that you couldn't get health insurance if you had a congenital health defect was cruel. Non-smoker discounts are not cruel.) Loyalty rules, in general, are a good thing, encouraging customers and companies to support each other.

  • The direct cause of the incident was poor decision making by United employees. Those employees could have presented their challenges to all their passengers differently and gotten compliance. They didn't need different rules, they needed better skills in using them. (That's good customer relationship management, which they definitely failed to provide.) 

  • United policies, culture and management are ultimately responsible for having front-line employees who behave poorly. The subsequent behavior by the CEO indicates that the problem goes very deep at United. The company is not "customer centric."

  • Loyal United customer could have intervened for the guy, but I'm thinking they were just too stunned to see the situation go off the rails. I know I would have been cowering in my seat. If I had been asked to participate, I hope I would have said, "He's a physician, I'll take his place." United didn't give the other customers a chance to help, as far as I know. 

United deserves to be punished but the loyal customers who complied with the rules are not the ones who got violent with a customer. I've seen many veteran customers intervene and help new customers over the years. I don't believe a loyalty program interferes with kindness. 

If you are a United customer with a high status in the loyalty program, what do you think United should do? Do you think they should change their policies? 


With Turnstyle, Yelp can help retailers and restaurants manage customer relationships

We have to wait and see if it's executed correctly, but adding Turnstyle's customer-tracking capabilities to the Yelp ecosystem could be a game-changer for retail/restaurant loyalty programs. It alleviates a TON of data collection bottlenecks. We'll also have to see if customers object to the loss of privacy. Myself, as a customer, I would rather participate for the convenience of being rewarded, but I expect not everyone would appreciate being tracked.

Recently, a restaurant owner shared a snapshot on Facebook that included a view of one of his best customers in the background. And that customer had promised his wife he was NOT going to the cafe that day. Gotcha!

Marketing Land: Yelp buys Turnstyle to expand targeting and offline attribution capabilities, 2017-Apr-5 by Greg Sterling

Earlier this week, Yelp bought a company called Turnstyle for a reported $20 million. Turnstyle can be characterized in various ways; it calls itself a WiFi-based marketing and loyalty platform....

Turnstyle enables businesses to offer guest WiFi in exchange for customer email addresses (opt-in). The company uses the phone’s MAC address to identify the device, when it returns to the venue, for either loyalty or attribution purposes or both.

Yelp has been building out its marketing capabilities and programs relatively quietly over the past couple of years. Late last year, it introduced loyalty program Yelp Cashback (using Empyr). It has also been beefing up booking, messaging and transactional tools.

Turnstyle gives Yelp an intriguing new set of capabilities to help businesses market to customers and figure out if those efforts are working. Here’s what Yelp could do with Turnstyle:

  • Help businesses build customer lists.
  • Help them identify and segment audiences (e.g., frequent guests, lapsed customers).
  • Find/segment audiences in other ways (i.e., demographic, behavioral) when combined with other data.
  • Track online ads or email to store/venue visits.
  • Retarget in-store customers online on Yelp or third-party networks.
  • Offer email marketing or an enhancement to its customers, based on offline visits (combined with other data).

I’m not saying that Yelp will do all these things, but Turnstyle provides the technical capability to do them.

TechCrunch: Yelp acquires Wi-Fi marketing company Turnstyle Analytics for $20 million, 2017-Apr-4 by Sarah Perez 

The move, Yelp explains, is aimed at expanding the types of business marketing services Yelp already offers beyond those that are focused on customer acquisition, to also include those that help businesses with customer retention and loyalty.

Toronto-based Turnstyle was founded in 2012 that today supports nearly 3,500 businesses, primarily across the U.S. and Canada. According to the logos on its website, these customers include Back Alley Burger, Burger King, Broncos Slider Bar, Subway, and others.... 

Yelp explains that the average consumer today spend more than five hours per day online, but still makes approximately 93 percent of their purchases offline. With Turnstyle, Yelp aims to give its small-to-medium sized business customers a means of connecting with those offline customers.

In addition, it points out that free Wi-Fi has been shown to increase foot traffic and sales figures. 62 percent of customers spend more time in places that provide free Wi-Fi and 50 percent of those customers spend more money on services and products as a result of the extra time spend in the establishment, Yelp noted, pointing to a Small Biz Trends survey.... 

The [Turnstyle] product is currently used by a number of clients, including restaurants, cafes, retail stores, auto dealers, spas, salons and others – basically, anywhere a consumer may be spending time and lingering around, and expects there to be free Wi-Fi.


Defining ours customers they way that Disney does

In developing a system of 'steady crm,' we start by defining the ideal relationship with our customers. We define what loyal behavior means for us and for them. Using non-standard language can be extremely helpful. By defining customers as guests and employees as cast members, Disney establishes expectations for both. 

What do your employees and customers expect? 

Mediapost IOT Daily: Turning Customers Into Members, 2017-Mar-13 by Jame Gagliardi

One of the first things a company can do to help build relationships is to identify the nomenclature that best describes the ideal relationship between their brand and customer

Disney, for example, has stood by the adage ‘Be Our Guest,’ referring to their customers as guests for years. Everyone at Disney is involved as a cast member and everything is a show. Cable companies refer to their customers as “subscribers”; LinkedIn has always called users members.

Creating the right relationships means finding the inclusive vocabulary that will make members out of loyal customers. As members, they share the experience and the story of the brand, rather than just execute a basic business transaction.


Marriott and diversified loyalty

Loyalty programs continue to increase in complexity and major brands add more angles to capture the diverse interests of customers. And there's a lot of copycatting, too.

Travel Weekly: Marriott plans massive expansion of select-service brands, 2017-Mar-27 by Danny King

The PlacePass investment represents a point of departure for Marriott. Founded last year, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company offers listings and price comparisons for more than 100,000 "authentic local" experiences in 800 destinations worldwide, including activities such as a picnic in the Grand Canyon, a tour of U.K. filming sites for the "Downton Abbey" TV series and the chance to cook pasta with a chef in Italy's Tuscany region.

Marriott appears to be taking a cue from companies such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb, both of which have in recent years branched outside their core businesses to invest in in-destination listings services. ...

Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott's global chief commercial officer, told analysts and investors, "We want to be able to provide more value to customers so that they're more engaged with us. The loyalty program is incredibly important to driving the top line."


Reebok forms Elite community of users to promote new shoe

Advertising is not the answer to everything. Starting with influencers will help build a better story over the long term. 

Mediapost: For New Running Shoe, Reebok Steps Up Its Influencer Game, 2017-Mar-6 by Sarah Mahoney

Reebok is tiptoeing back into the elite running market with the launch of its new FloatRide Run, relying this time on a network of influencers rather than broader media efforts.

Because this $150 shoe is for serious runners, Reebok says it needed to invest in credibility, rather than the splashy advertising approach it used in launching the ZPump several years ago.

“We’re not an established running brand,” says James Woolard, brand director at Reebok. “Frankly, a brand saying it’s done all its research to create this fantastic shoe doesn’t have much impact. But using influencers to tell others about how our shoes compare is really powerful.”


Why will Whole Foods approach CRM differently?

Installing a CRM can be a wrenching experience for any established business, but it's especially challenging for a retail business with a big diverse breadth of products, such as a grocery or department store. One of the reasons is that 'category management' or deciding what items to stock keeps getting in the way. I think Whole Foods should take a page from J.C. Penney and decide to learn as much as they can about their customer before they turn to category management issues. 

Computerworld: Whole Foods illustrates the challenge of late-stage CRM integration, 2017-Mar-6 by Evan Schuman

When CRM programs don't work well, Ciancio said, "most fail because they are seen as just a marketing tool" and are not integrated into other store systems.


How Fry's reaches around Amazon and Best Buy to connect with customers

I recently subscribed to Fry's daily deals email because I want to track down a few unusual items. I could find them at Amazon but I agree with the Fry's customer quoted below. When it comes to unusual items, being able to handle them before you buy can be very valuable in time as well as money. 

Yahoo Finance: Fry's Electronics: How this tech retailer has survived the fall of brick-and-mortar, 2017-Mar-7 by J.P. Mangalindan

Fry’s serves up a deep inventory of tech products that goes beyond mass-market items. Sure, Fry’s sells HDTVs and digital cameras, but it also caters to the hardcore tech hobbyist who wants to pick and choose the parts to build an entire personal computer down to that seventh-generation Intel Core i5-7500 processor.

“Best Buy only sells a small selection of expensive goods that are mostly low-grade,” says TJ Pallas, a 30-year-old hardware developer and tech producer who splits his time between Chicago and Dallas and often travels for work. “Fry’s is real electronics. I can build new things from parts from Fry’s. If I’m working on site, I usually need something way sooner than a truck can get it.”

Sure, Pallas could shop on Amazon. But for the specialized hardware he’s looking for, he’s skeptical about shopping online. “There’s also something to be said for holding and looking at a thing before it gets integrated into a system. If we order the wrong thing off Amazon, we could be hosed. ‘Go to Fry’s and get exactly this and get back here,’ is pretty bulletproof,” he said.


J.C. Penney realizes loyalty to the customer has to precede loyalty from the customer

J.C. Penney appears to be turning the corner back into viability by focusing on a specific customer and being willing to remake themselves for her. Loyalty to the customer has to preceded loyalty from the customer. 

Loyalty360: J.C. Penney seeks dramatic turnaround in brand loyalty, 2017-Mar-2 by Jim Tierney

CEO Marvin R. Ellison: 

“Even with the tough starts in November, our new growth initiatives delivered another quarter of strong performance, particularly Appliances, Sephora, Salon, Fine Jewelry, and Toys,” Ellison said. “Toys is another great example of the power of listening to our customer and adding categories she is asking for that will enable us to drive our revenue per customer initiative. We had toys in our assortment this holiday season for the first time in many years and the response was excellent. Based on these results, we'll continue to offer toys in 100 stores during the first half of 2017 and we’ll significantly expand the toy assortment in all stores for back-to-school this year.”



How Lego, KLM, and MyMuesli use social media to improve customer loyalty

The internet is all a buzz about this article that says social media doesn't work to find new customers. If we read far enough, we'll learn that it works very, very well for improving customer loyalty. We should make it easy for our customers to become closer through their preferred social media. 

Harvard Business Review: What's the Value of a Like, 2017-March/April, by Leslie K. John, Daniel Mochon, Oliver Emrich, and Janet Schwartz

Companies pursuing this option should favor organic growth, letting customers seek out the brand. Almost by definition, the people who go to the trouble of finding a brand on social media will be its most devoted, and thus most valuable, customers. As a group, these customers are a great asset: They will enthusiastically provide feedback to improve product development, management, and delivery; defend the brand against unjustified complaints; and be early adopters of and evangelists for new offerings.

For example, Lego uses its social media channels to gather customers’ ideas for new products and to tout new product lines. MyMuesli, a German maker of customizable granola, asked customers to publish images of their own granola mixes on Instagram and subsequently sold some of the customer-created products through its website. The Dutch airline KLM clearly uses its Twitter account as a customer feedback tool; in addition to responding to customers’ tweets, the airline shows that it is listening by prominently posting its estimated response time in its Twitter header... 


FedEx provides array of rewards, making a difference for every customer

When building a loyalty program, we often forget the diversity of our customer base has to be matched by the diversity of our rewards and recognition tools. 

Just for their small business clients, FedEx has built an amazingly diverse array of awards

  • Tech Award that helps business owners acquire the technology needed to use Fedex services more efficiently
  • Advantage program that provides discounts based on annual average shipping with Fedex
  • Invitation-only My FedEx Rewards program which is a point-based reward program with non-discount incentives
  • Small business grant contest

Not all of us have such a diverse customer base, but companies are giving so much attention to providing awards that make a difference to every customer. 

Loyalty360: Helping Small Businesses Through the My Fedex Rewards Loyalty Program, 2017-Feb-21 by Jim Tierney

All businesses, including small and mid-sized companies, are constantly focused on growing revenue, increasing profits and generating loyalty. Small and mid-sized companies, in particular, are more challenged with hiring employees, cash flow, raising capital, and maintaining business operations.

Small businesses don’t have hundreds of employees to manage human resources or all of the administrative functions that large companies may take for granted. They need cost-effective, simple solutions that enable them to focus on their core value proposition.