THE CLARUS Blog

7 Loyalty Management Services You Should Expect from a Partner

Why should you seek a partner to provide loyalty management services?

Well, offering a unique loyalty program today means showing ongoing value to your members.

And that is done by understanding what they want, building an attractive program to fit it, and continually optimizing it.

But it’s not just a platform that allows you to do this.

Loyalty management is a huge, ongoing commitment that takes people and not just technology.

That’s why many retailers work with loyalty partners.

Your ideal loyalty partner will have experience building programs in your industry and will take the time to discover everything about your business, including what benefits will prove most valuable to your customers.

But it takes a lot to build, manage, and optimize a loyalty program aside from just experience.

Can your partner build a custom program that is unique to your brand?

Do they have in-house Creative services to assist in building the member experience?

Once your program is up and running, can they provide data and analytics to help optimize the program over time?

Here are the core services to look for:

 

1. Client Services

At the very heart of your relationship with your loyalty partner lies the Client Services team.

An account manager from this team will be your day-to-day contact and is like an extension of your team.

This person should be keeping in constant communication with you and working towards your KPIs.

They know your brand, your customers, and your goals.

Want to add a new feature to your program?

Looking for assistance analyzing member data?

Have any questions or concerns about how your program is performing?

The client services team is there to help with any of that.

From your initial launch to ongoing support to quarterly business reviews, this team is focused on making your loyalty program a success.

Many loyalty companies that do provide this service also charge for it, whether it’s an hourly rate or some type of retainer fee.

At Clarus, all of this is included at no charge.

This loyalty management services video shows how we think about it.

So, ask your potential partner if they provide client services or if you’ll be on your own once your program launches.

And be sure to ask them if there is a cost associated with it.

 

2. Loyalty Strategy

A one-size-fits-all loyalty program doesn’t work today.

Brands need to figure out what their customers value and build a program to suit them.

This involves holding a stakeholder alignment meeting.

You have to make sure key people from your finance, technology, store operations, CRM, and merchandising teams are all in alignment with your loyalty partner.

It’s important for your partner to fully understand the goals of each stakeholder to make sure your loyalty program will help achieve them.

Your potential partner should be asking questions like:

What are you doing today, or what have you done in the past, as it relates to loyalty?

Do you have any existing metrics that indicate consumers behaving positively?

Are there any loyalty tactics out there that are interesting or would like to explore?

What are your competitors doing?

What are your goals and objectives for this program?

This is also a great time to uncover any potential budget or technology constraints.

Once all the above questions are explored, it’s time to start thinking about product construct.

Should this be a free, premium, or tiered program?

What benefits and rewards would your customers value most?

Aside from transactional benefits like discounts, what are some exclusive experiential benefits that you could offer?

When you work with a loyalty management partner, they should make sure that everyone is aligned with the goals of the program.

Will your potential partner work with you on loyalty strategy, stakeholder alignment, and program construct to develop a program that is custom-tailored to your brand?

Or are they simply selling you a standard, out-of-the-box platform and leaving the rest up to you?

 

3. Technology Services

It’s important to understand how your loyalty partner will handle the technical end of your program.

Are they able to integrate seamlessly with other existing systems that you have in-place like your website and POS?

Is the platform a standard, off-the-shelf solution, or is custom-built for your brand?

What does the integration look like from a timing perspective and what are the costs associated with it?

Where does it all begin?

Your partner should first start with a gap analysis to examine current technology versus where you want your loyalty program to be.

This will help identify the data sources needed for integration and the actual integration points. It will also help set a realistic timeline to launch.

Ask if they have standard APIs to make hooking into our existing infrastructure easier.

A good document for your technology team to look at is your partner’s API Developer Portal.

This will give your team an idea of how easy (or difficult) it is to integrate with your partner’s platform.

And once your program does launch, how easy is it to update over time?

Is that something your partner can do for you quickly? What cost does that come at?

It’s critical to gain a solid understanding of exactly the type of resources needed from your end to build and maintain your program.

 

4. Creative Services

Your brand is everything.

More than just your name or logo or color palette, it’s the overall experience your customers have when they interact with your company and products.

It’s your customers’ perception of your company across all touchpoints – website, emails, social media pages, video, in-store, and everything in between.

And it’s also what makes you different from your competitors.

Your loyalty program needs to be included and can’t be an afterthought.

After all, it’s not just an add-on or a tactic.

Your loyalty program is an extension of your brand. That’s why Creative Services is so important.

Many loyalty partners offer these survives at an additional cost. Or, they would work with third-party agencies on creative.

At Clarus, we include these services an no charge.

We start with our partners’ brand identity guidelines to make sure every element is on-brand down to the colors, fonts, image styles, and tone of the copy.

Since we also manage marketing campaigns around the program for many clients, we ensure that the email design and tone match.

The same goes for the in-store experience. We often design promotional cards, counter mats, and signage for our retail partners.

We even help train their in-store associates on their loyalty programs and how to get customers excited to join.

Related Content – How you should think about loyalty program branding.

Brand consistency is key when it comes to your loyalty program.

If your customer experience is disjointed when they interact with your program, it comes off as cobbled together and inauthentic.

When looking for a loyalty partner, ask them how they think about your brand.

How do they make sure the loyalty program experience is consistent with all other touchpoints?

 

5. Marketing Campaign Management

Once your loyalty program is built and in the market, how will you attract and acquire new members?

And just as importantly, how will you keep them engaged?

Many loyalty partners can help with loyalty marketing campaign management to make sure your customers are not only aware of the program but receive regular communications to keep them engaged.

Your loyalty management partner should be able to design and execute personalized and targeted program messaging, promotions, and offers through all channels (web, email, mobile, print).

You need to consider:

  • Marketing to attract customers to sign up
  • New members welcome communications
  • Ongoing communications to keep members informed and engaged
  • Special promotions to keep your program fresh and exciting

Related Content – Learn more about communicating with your loyalty members.

This is especially important if you’re thinking about a premium loyalty program that your customers are paying to be members of.

There’s a lot more to marketing when it comes to premium loyalty.

When you’re asking someone to sign up for a free program, you’re just asking for an email address.

With a premium loyalty program, your ask is monetary.

Constant optimization from a marketing perspective is key.

Looking at the data and evaluating what you need to do to resonate with customers and have the right benefits to get them engaging is needed.

This is a key service and one in which your brand and partner need to be in perfect alignment.

Ask your potential partner how they can assist with attracting members and keeping them engaged for the long run through marketing communications.

 

6. Data and Analytics

Regular reporting and analyzing the data generated from your loyalty program is crucial.

It’s important for your partner to be transparent with you on the successes and struggles the program is experiencing.

Make sure you know how often your loyalty management partner will provide reporting metrics, and what those metrics will be.

This is a key area where your loyalty partner can offer expert advice based on the results generated in your program.

Your loyalty partner should use the data to uncover insights that lead to strategic recommendations to enhance the member experience and evolve the program.

For example, if your join count is low, you should look at whether or not customers think your program is valuable or perhaps that your in-store associates need more training to get customers excited about it.

If you have a high churn rate, it could mean that members are not getting value out of the program. Then, it’s time to rethink some of the benefits and rewards you’re offering.

All this information will help you better understand your members and their expectations.

It’s important for your partner to be transparent with you on the successes and struggles the program is experiencing.

Make sure you know how often your loyalty management partner will provide reporting metrics, and what those metrics will be.

This reporting allows for open communication with your partner and allows you the opportunity to evaluate your program and make changes where you see fit.

So, ask your potential partner what types of data they collect, what that data means, and how often they’re reporting on it and making strategic recommendations.

 

Customer Service & Billing

These services are specific to premium loyalty programs.

In a traditional, free loyalty program, all your customers have to give is their names and email addresses so they can be sent promotions.

After that, it’s mostly automated.

Points are added to their accounts after transactions and communications are sent out. It’s on the members to use their benefits before they expire.

There’s not much need for additional or special customer service because your customers haven’t invested a lot in the program.

But premium loyalty programs are much different.

Since your best customers are paying to be members of this type of program, customer service and billing becomes very important.

You want to make sure you (and your loyalty partner) are doing everything you can to retain these members.

If an issue ever arises around billing, benefits, or anything else, it’s critical that the issue is resolved promptly and on-brand.

That’s why Clarus Commerce offers branded customer service on behalf of our retail partners.

This means that our customer service representatives are assigned specific partner accounts and they are trained extensively on the ins and outs of each loyalty program.

This removes the burden from our retailer partner.

It means that when a member of your premium loyalty program needs to speak to someone in customer service, they’re getting access to a special team just for VIP members.

While that team consists of our people, to your customers, it’s all one seamless brand experience.

Related Content – Here’s why branded customer service is so important in your loyalty program.

And billing adds yet another layer.

This isn’t a concern in a free program, but you have to consider who will handle the subscription billing aspect.

Many retailers are not well equipped for this, so your partner can be a huge help here.

If you’re thinking about a premium loyalty program, it’s important to ask your partner how they handle billing and customer service (if at all).

And if they are handling billing and working with credit cards, are they PCI compliant?

 

Your Loyalty Management Software Provider is an Extension Of Your Company

A great loyalty partner is an extension of your company because your loyalty program is a key fabric of your brand.

From marketing to design to IT to customer service, a loyalty program touches so many points within your business. And your loyalty partner manages all those touchpoints.

It all must work together seamlessly to give your customers the best experience possible.

For brands to offer truly unique loyalty programs, personalization, and relevancy driven by customer data insights, they need to focus on individual consumer journeys.

And they need a trustworthy loyalty management partner to reach their goals.

After all, a great loyalty partner has just as much at stake in the program as your company does.

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