The loyalty program challenge

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a co-worker about brand loyalty. We began discussing why we are loyal to particular brands and not loyal to others. We had such a great discussion that I decided to turn the topic in to our next company-wide workshop.

LoyaltyChallengeLoyalty fits into our daily work lives at Delvinia and AskingCanadians. When our Digital Consulting Group designs strategies for our clients (whether it be banking, insurance or retail) we think about how we will not only attract users, but keep them. And our AskingCanadians online research community rewards its panellists for participation in surveys with points toward loyalty programs.

So, because this topic  is so important for our company; I wanted all of our staff to think critically about brand loyalty and how it fits into their lives.

For this workshop I challenged our staff  to design the ideal loyalty program for a specific product. I began by handing out worksheets a week before the session to kick-start everyone’s thoughts about loyalty.

For example, why do you always buy jeans from one store when there are so many stores and brands to choose from? Is it the material, the fit, the cost, the name recognition? Maybe it’s the company’s ethics and values. Or maybe your decision is based on convenience; maybe the store is on your way home or it’s easy to get to. What if anything would make you switch brands?

For the actual workshop I adjusted a commonly used format that’s often called Designing the Box or The Cereal Box Challenge. The intent was for groups to take a blank cereal box and create a Boxed Loyalty Program using the limited space and content on their cereal boxes.

I assigned specific brands—including car companies, financial institutions and online social communities—to each group and asked them to define their audience, program features and benefits, the program name, and what they felt would make a customer choose their Boxed Loyalty Program over the others. After the brainstorming session, the groups designed their boxes and then had to pitch their ideas to the rest of the teams.

Overall each of the groups observed that it’s easy to attract new customers, but keeping them loyal over time is the real challenge.

The teams came up with ideas like offering incentives and tiered rewards for participation. In fact, rewarding and acknowledging their customers for their loyalty was key in every instance. Making the loyalty experience personalized and adding a customer service layer was also a common theme.

The teams identified that by offering customers an option to provide feedback and allowing customers to be active participants in their program; customers would likely be more invested and would remain loyal in the long term–an observation and learning that rings true in our work too.

Creating situations where our team can have fun, be inspired and get creative while at the same time learning new skills and techniques that can be used outside of the workshop and in their daily lives is the whole goal of what our internal workshops are designed to do.