In my last post about innovation, I spoke about how innovation is more than just developing the creative idea. Innovation is about developing opportunities for new relationships with your customers and partners, products and services and potentially new streams of revenue. To realize this kind of change requires substantial effort from internal stakeholders. However even developing the strategy to create this level of change can take tremendous effort and willingness to do so.
Innovation in the Making
Recently, our team took on the challenge with a national loyalty program to formulate ideas that would help take their customer experience into the future. What they were hearing was that their brand was stagnate and wasn’t providing the value it once did. The program became a basic need for retailers. Even with some improvement in recent years in adopting digital technologies, they haven’t pushed the needle on their value to their business partners. In response, some major retail partners have adopted their own proprietary loyalty programs.
How can we move a staple national loyalty program into the future using digital technologies? We started with our insights to action methodology.
Getting to the Answer
We felt their loyalty program still held a significant advantage over other brands. It was a matter of understanding what the opportunities were to move them forward.
We employed our insights and data gathering approach to help us get to the why. We conducted a series of interviews with internal stakeholders, business partners and consumers to get their impressions of the brand and business practices. We audited their existing technologies and ability to collect big data. We evaluated their use of digital to engage with consumers and promote brands on the web, mobile and social platforms. Then we did field research and evaluated the current practices of other loyalty programs and retailers with their own proprietary programs.
We discovered a number of important factors that supported their fears but could also serve to invigorate their business if they choose to.
- Big data is paramount to brand partners. Successful loyalty groups can garner a large following and this can be good for sales. With available technologies and innovations in customer experience design these programs can gather intel on who, what and why they buy like never before.
- Acknowledgement counts. Yes consumers want to save money. Consumers are also looking for acknowledgement and reciprocity for their loyalty to a program or brand. Just providing consumers with a discount may not be good enough for today’s savvy shopper.
- Mobile is critical to connect with future shoppers. Shoppers want access to deals when they need them. Mobile devices enabling near-store or in-store experiences connect with consumers in the moment. They can also create new opportunities for brand partners in creating reach that wasn’t there before, which leads to my last point.
- Content marketing helps to create the reach brands desire. We know two things: one, ad banners are becoming less effective, and two, consumers may look to 5-10 sources of information before making a big purchase decision. So brands are looking at creative ways to play a role on these platforms to influence buyer’s decision making.
Simple Leads to Change
You may think these insights on themselves are not that significant. At first they are pretty simple. However, it’s the simplest ideas that can cause significant change within an organization. These observations could mean an entire shift for a brand. The kind of shift that changes the value to its consumers, creates new business opportunities for its partners but also requires significant internal change in roles, technology and product development.