New era loyalty programs create lasting bonds for brands

Mladen Vladic | VP, Head of Loyalty Solutions, FIS

September 13, 2021

This is an extraordinary time in the payments industry when you look at the sheer amount of new technology being developed and the amount of change and innovation taking place. The loyalty space is no exception, with large merchants and financial institutions investing millions into revamping their loyalty programs. Despite all this change, the core principles of a best-in-class rewards program have stayed the same. A well-rounded loyalty program life cycle is still centered around acquisition, activation, usage, and retention but organizations need to find new ways to enhance each of these different points to stay relevant.

Loyalty programs show the “human” side of brands

During these uncertain times, consumers are looking for more consideration and special attention, even in their shopping experience. Loyalty programs are a tremendous tool for brands to show their human side to their customers. It’s about going back to basics by showing appreciation for the customers that have been loyal to a certain brand for their various reasons. An incredible amount of people has changed the way they have shopped over the past year, whether it’s through adopting contactless payments and mobile wallets or by shopping more online. This means that brands must now keep their loyal customers, and attract new ones, through different channels and based on what the individual prefers.

The current market dynamic is now forcing brands to rethink their approach for loyalty programs in favor of providing an individualized experience. This is where rewards and loyalty programs can “get personal”. Organizations must realize that it does not matter how good a deal may be in their minds. If it does not fit specific, very personal needs of their customers, these offerings are not doing anything to benefit the organization or its customers. By making the rewards offering personal, brands are showing that they care about the individual and have their best interest in mind. The key to creating and implementing this strategy is to make every loyalty promotion measurable in order to validate the business case for the rewards program investment and continue to evolve future campaigns.

Making loyalty rewards Personalized, Curated, and Relevant

An organization’s rewards program needs to deliver offers that are personalized, curated, and relevant to the individual consumer. As I have written before, the days of the one size fits all loyalty program are long gone. These three words need to be present at every point of the consumers loyalty cycle. Rewards need to be timely, meaning that instant gratification at the point-of-sale cannot be the only time brands are sending customers offers. This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play so that there are opportunities to build thresholds and triggers based on the consumer behavior and data collection. By utilizing data within a loyalty program, brands can provide the personalized, curated, and relevant rewards that can bring their customers the best possible experience with their brand.

The right technology partner can make all the difference

A technology partner can help your organization deliver a best-in-class loyalty program to your consumers at a pace that fits your organization. This new, open loyalty network concept allows consumers to tailor their preferences and create a level of engagement that fits their individual needs. In the future, consumers will be able to exchange loyalty currency not only for discounts at different points of sale, but to redeem their hard-earned loyalty perks in exchange stock shares, cryptocurrencies, and a large variety of other options, making this engagement truly currency agnostic. Organizations that do not have the right technology partner to handle the details to make that happen risk being left behind by the competition.