Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it – I used to look at loyalty programs all wrong. You know, the same way many brand execs still look at it: marketing as the entrée, loyalty as a side dish. But now that I know better (much, much better), I’m making it my mission to change how we – CX pros and marketers – think about loyalty. Everyone.
It’s no small feat, I know. I’ve done it before (in fact, I keep getting told I’m the “OG of CX” – a nickname I love). As part of the original group of game changers battling to bring CX from the last in line to the first thing a company should consider, it began as an uphill battle. But once we all got together (brave CXers like yourselves), we built momentum, and a following, and became industry disrupters. I wear that badge proudly with all of you.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to be disruptive for the sake of it – but when I see an opportunity to better an entire industry with a switch of mindset, I jump all over it. And that’s exactly what happened to me when I came to Kobie Marketing as a consultant a mere handful of months ago.
Because of my years in CX and being one of the first CXOs in the Nation (or perhaps because my house is two blocks from their HQ), Kobie approached me and asked me to spend some time working with them. Kobie is a technology company offering Alchemy®, their loyalty platform, first and their customer experience (CX/UX) agency services second. Now that I’ve wrapped my head around their innovative offerings and fallen in love with the people (and jumped onboard as president), I’m going to make it my mission to reshape the entire loyalty industry. And maybe my beloved CX industry while I’m at it.
How? Glad you asked. My entire view has changed. Yes, the customer experience should always be first and foremost on any project – but thanks to the new perspective I’ve gained with Kobie, I truly believe that successful loyalty initiatives are the outcome of great CX, and vice versa – great customer experiences can come from stellar loyalty solutions. In essence: no longer shall loyalty be a side dish or even an appetizer of the overall customer experience. It’s one of the main courses.
Not digging the food analogy? Think about it another way: it’s raining offers in the marketplace and customers are getting inundated. Great CX is the umbrella you offer, and loyalty is the result of using it – it’s easy for the customer, keeps them comfortable and happy, and blocks the competitive deluge. So, next time it rains, what will they turn to? Your umbrella – that amazing experience you provided. Now they’re loyal, always. Together forever (if you truly nail that CX experience from the get-go). We, at Kobie, do both – great CX and best-in-class loyalty solutions.
Improving the CX of a company typically relies on listening to customer complaints, creating hotlines, offering surveys, looking at sales results, making calls, pounding pavement, connecting on social, sitting in a store – the works. Literally trying to use every channel and vehicle at your company’s disposal to understand what your consumers think, feel, need and want. Creating a cultural shift like this – one that connects a company’s employees with its customers – is a lot of work, unless you have a Kobie.
The most impactful loyalty programs offer all this and more, designing experiences that make it easy for people to get done what they want to get done. Experiences that connect with customers and tap into their hearts and minds. They provide real-time information down to the individual level. You can see successes and failures by segment, by region, by age, by interest, by lifetime value, and more. The data is at your fingertips day in and day out. Just imagine the CX experiences you can create with that!
The data can be a bit overwhelming because there’s so much of it on so many customers, down to seemingly miniscule details. That’s why we’re figuring out ways to make it scalable – easier for marketers and CXers to digest so they can make faster, more informed decisions.
Better yet, this doesn’t just benefit the company, it benefits the customer too. They’re recognized and rewarded for providing their feedback and for engaging with the brand, creating a two-way relationship – give and take. Let me emphasize that again because it’s the most important thing in both loyalty and CX – a relationship. Isn’t that the thing we’re all trying to do here? Creating relationships of trust, understanding, ease and appreciation. You can see where I’m going with this.
As I learn more about Kobie, the loyalty industry at large, and leveraging my CX experience to better both halves of the same coin, I predict I’ll have much more to shout from the hilltops in the coming months. I’m a convert. You will be too. CX drives loyalty, loyalty drives CX. You heard it here first – now, let’s change the industry together. To learn more about loyalty and to join me on this journey, visit: Kobie.com.
I can’t wait to see where this goes.
*content originally written for the UK Customer Experience Awards blog