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February 2017

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.


Loyal fans of My Coke Rewards deserve parting gift cards

My Coke Rewards has its fans, but from the outside, we can't tell if it's really driving revenue for Coca-Cola. This company has so many constituencies, and they certainly need to be kind to the program's fans, but they can't keep pouring money into a program that will never appeal to their future customers. I wish they were doing some type of 'parting gift.' Sunsetting a program like this is a real art. 

Bloomberg: Coca-Cola Fiends Fret as Company Revamps Beloved Loyalty Program, 2017-Feb-16 by Polly Mosendz

Ben Kelly got hooked at Blockbuster. It was July 2007, a time when leaving your home to pick up a movie was still conceivable, and his rental with accompanying soda allotted him 25 free Coca-Cola points. A fan of Sprite and Powerade, Kelly decided to give the beverage behemoth's loyalty program a shot. Over the past decade, the 29-year-old estimates he amassed about 100,000 points, enough to redeem roughly $1,500 worth of gift cards based on today's exchange rate.

But on July 1, Kelly's remaining balance, and that of hundreds of thousands of other My Coke Rewards members, will become worthless. The program is getting an overhaul, Coca-Cola Co. says, but users are worried about what will become of one of the world's largest, and most beloved, loyalty programs.


Accenture uncovers what people expect from customer loyalty programs

I spend most of my time swimming around in data around customer behavior. As a marketer I'm usually less interested in what people think than what they do. However, when I'm trying to convince a business owner to start a loyalty program, I have to deal with his or her opinions and expectations around loyalty, and most are very skeptical. So I'm happy to see Accenture surveying what people around the world think about customer loyalty programs. They found

  1. Everyone has become skeptical of customer loyalty programs.
  2. They want companies to FIRST respect customers' privacy (85%) and time (81%).
  3. The most universally appreciated rewards (59%) are what Accenture calls "tokens of affection."
  4. Young people are generally more excited and optimistic about joining a loyalty program, and 73% value tokens of affection. 

Tokens of affection include recognition, access to news and support, low-value premiums including toys, badges and status. 

So when we think about starting a loyalty program, we should not expect customers to be thrilled. They want to see us using their data to their benefit, not ours. In general and especially at first, symbolic gifts and recognition are more important than big rebates and discounts. 

Accenture Press Release: Organizations Wasting Billions on Customer Loyalty Programs That Don’t Work Like They Used To, Accenture Strategy Study Finds, 2017-Feb-14

The Accenture Strategy report, ‘Seeing beyond the loyalty illusion: it’s time you invest more wisely,’ gauges the experiences and attitudes of 25,426 consumers around the world, including 2,532 U.S. consumers, about their loyalty relationship with brands and organizations today. The report found that 54 percent of U.S. consumers have switched provider in the past year, and almost one fifth (18 percent) confirm their expectations around brand loyalty have completely changed.


How to work toward customer centricity

Dunnhumby is the architect of Kroger's loyalty program and they recently completed a worldwide review the drivers of grocery store loyalty, which they measure in a Customer Centricity Index. They attribute 34% of a store's customer centricity as being demonstrated by customer affinity for the store. They define "affinity" as 

Creating an emotional connection with customers, ensuring they see themselves reflected in the values communicated by the brand...

That's a branding challenge for a store but it's not enough. They find the business must also achieve strong results in two or three of the seven pillars, most of which are more operational: range & service, promotions, price, communications, ease and rewards. Each store must prioritize these pillars to attract loyal customers. 

Focusing efforts on the most important pillars is a strategy that is paying off for the leading customer centric retailers. Do few things but do them well. [Emphasis added.]

Download the study:

MyCustomer: Consumer study reveals the seven pillars of customer-centricity, 2017-Feb-1 by Dave Clements

However, in reality, “putting the customer first” is easily said, but incredibly hard to do in practice. The only true measure of customer-centricity is the actions retailers take and their customers’ response to those actions. In spite of today’s hypercompetitive retail landscape, it’s still quite surprising just how few retailers are genuinely committed to customer-centric strategies. 


Knowing the right and wrong uses of loyalty is more important than ever

As this story about Robert Kraft demonstrates, loyalty can lead to many good things. Having a loyal friend that opens your eyes to experiences you've never encountered is a very good thing. 

Fighting for a friend who's done something wrong can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you truly believe they've done nothing wrong, then you can't be wrong to support them. 

When loyalty becomes unmoored from decent behavior and honesty, we enter the dark zone. The only way to avoid that pit is to put loyalty to our values: honesty, respect for others, desire to keep learning and growing, ahead of the debts of friendship. It's the only way. 

NY Daily News: Robert Kraft opens up about Goodell, Deflategate and Donald Trump, 2017-Jan-29 by Gary Myers

In an interview with the Daily News, the most successful owner in the NFL, and future Hall of Famer, explained how Deflategate impacted his once-close partnership with Goodell and how, in the bluest of blue states, the President of the United States won his heart in his darkest time.

Kraft was livid Goodell fined the Patriots $1 million and took away a first-round draft pick in Deflategate – the most contrived controversy in NFL history – but he was apoplectic that Goodell suspended Tom Brady, whom Kraft truly loves and considers his fifth son, for four games and dirtied the reputation and integrity of the player considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history....

“When [my wife] Myra died, Melania and Donald came up to the funeral in our synagogue, then they came for memorial week to visit with me,” Kraft said. “Then he called me once a week for the whole year, the most depressing year of my life when I was down and out. He called me every week to see how I was doing, invited me to things, tried to lift my spirits. He was one of five or six people that were like that. I remember that.”

That’s why Kraft was at a pre-inauguration dinner with Trump. Seated nearby was Jets owner Woody Johnson, expected to be the ambassador to the United Kingdom. “To be honest, I think we have a real challenge, especially in the inner cities,” Kraft said. “Working class people and lower income people, we have to help more. They’ve gotten hurt over the last decade a lot. We have to create jobs and a vibrant economy that helps those communities throughout America. I really believe and hope that the new administration is going to do that.”


Leading indicators of strength in your B2B relationships, from Wayne O'Neill's RESET

You can configure a CRM platform to track some of these statistics, but that doesn't excuse an account manager from knowing where an account could go. That requires having a vision for your customers. 

RESET: The One Thing Your CRM Can't Track--That Matters Most, 2017-Feb-1 by Wayne O'Neill 

Your prospects are human beings with emotions.

In addition to tracking lagging indicators, you must also track leading indicators. These are relationship factors like:

  • The multiple paths of connection your firm has to the company
  • The number of unsolicited proposal requests
  • The business and political issues the prospect is immersed in
  • The PDPs (project delivery partners) that could help you get a broader perspective on the client and their real needs
  • The ways your firm can impact a target client


Marriott draws customer comments to their innovation ideas

Marriott has two big customer groups: hotel owners and travellers. Recently they've been driving a lot of feedback by putting their innovation ideas out in front of them. We don't have much visibility into what the owner/investor community thinks, but you can see what some of the travellers are thinking at FlyerTalk. Most 'customer communities' are very private, so if you'd like a view into the benefits of launching one, this preview is valuable. 

Marriott News: Marriott’s First-Ever, Pop-Up Innovation Lab Further Evolves Its Cutting Edge Aloft and Element Hotel Brands, 2017-Jan-23

Marriott International today will launch its first pop-up hotel innovation lab, creating an interactive model hotel experience in downtown Los Angeles to crowdsource real-time feedback from the public, furthering the company’s futuristic vision.

Underscoring Marriott’s goal of continuously innovating the guest experience with an eye on design and technology, the lab will let industry professionals, hotel guests, associates and the general public see, touch, taste and hear some of the exciting enhancements being considered for the future of the company’s innovation incubator brand Aloft, and eco-conscious, extended-stay brand Element


Ways to strengthen loyalty using social media, from Chirpify and Columbia Sportswear

Customers on social media enjoy sharing their favorite brands, and when companies recognize and reward them, loyalty grows. This article shares several different examples. 

Chirpify: Columbia Sportswear Named Retail Innovation Finalist for Engagement Loyalty, 2017

Using the Chirpify platform allows Columbia Sportswear to reward its Greater Rewards loyalty plan members with points and other rewards for sharing products, promotions, and brand content in social media. In the background, Chirpify listens for pre-determined social triggers, such as hashtags, conversations, check-ins and more that once set off, can automatically and immediately initiate a response. Using the Chirpify rules engine, Columbia Sportswear can tailor specific responses to specific triggers. For example, a check-in might trigger an in-store offer whereas sharing positive product feedback would result in rewards points.

In addition to automation, Chirpify allows Columbia Sportswear to moderate any social trigger or conversation.... This is particularly useful in promoting user generated content for campaigns such as Columbia Sportswear’s annual “How Tough is Your Trail” photo challenge....

...Columbia Sportswear has integrated Chirpify with its CRM and ecommerce systems and can as a result frictionlessly convert customers within social media as Chirpify recognizes members online via their social handles.


Loyal customers best insurance against bad publicity

This article lovingly goes over all the social media mistakes that big brands have made, reassuring us that if we provide good value to our customers, our businesses will survive our mistakes. 

ClickZ: The ONLY lesson from every social media brand fail example ever, 2017-Feb-2 by Danny Goodwin

So make sure your product or service is good enough to withstand any mistakes you make on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks. Build a loyal audience that loves you.


Facing the challenges of keeping up with our customers

Every business owner and professional is challenged to maintain their business relationships, including me. We all have to decide what we value and which customers and contacts deserve our loyalty. And then we have to develop a strategy. I call this strategy 'marketkeeping' because it reminds me of housekeeping. It can be delegated but if we let it slide for too long, we have a deteriorating home or business. 

For each of us, marketkeeping takes a different path. We have to build a process that reflects our strengths and resources. Many consultants tell us they have "the solution," but they often recommend methods that are not a good match to our audience or our capabilities. 

With Steady CRM, I have a process, not a solution. I cost effectively help my clients build up a system that keeps them connected with their best customers and prospects. The process is not a quick fix. Some customers delegate parts of the process to me, others keep it in house. My commitment is to make it sustainable and help you improve profit margins.