The best customer loyalty programs adapt to meet market shifts

By: Sarah VanDerHart

What you need to know

  • Loyalty marketers must design programs that adapt to changing consumer expectations and behaviors. 
  • Strategic execution and day-to-day support must integrate into the full cycle of program operations. 
  • An end-to-end customer loyalty provider creates efficiencies and anticipates future needs.

collage of loyalty program communications

Adaptability is one of the most essential attributes of a standout customer loyalty program. Demands for immediacy, transparency, social responsibility and seamless purchasing options are gaining relevance alongside the standard competitive advantages of quality and price. AI-enabled, omni-channel marketing is the way to go. 

The brands with the best customer loyalty programs don’t just pivot to meet changing customer expectations. They analyze performance and proactively adjust their platforms. Don’t be one of the organizations that are struggling to keep up.

95% of B2C and B2B executives think customers change faster than their businesses can manage.

Leading customer loyalty programs are moving away from purchase frequency as the primary indicator. Instead, they track many behaviors that turn high-value customers into passionate brand advocates. Multi-dimensional approaches produce a strong return on investment. Yet, the pressures of loyalty program execution and continuous monitoring can create issues for internal teams. This is especially true when complex customer audiences cross multiple business units within a brand. An end-to-end (E2E) partner can remedy this. 

Implementing or reimagining a loyalty program might feel like too much to take on. But there’s a massive difference between managing multiple vendors to run a cobbled-together program and working with an E2E customer loyalty provider that takes on the heavy lifting of a successful program. E2E partners know a business so well that they can suggest and implement money-saving and profit-growing improvements—a bridge across your disparate business units.

infographic of budgeted hours vs. actual hours

How integrated customer loyalty partners maximize efficiencies 

Building loyalty and advocacy with your customers doesn’t just happen when you execute a program. It requires an operational team dedicated to learning every aspect of the business to develop a cohesive strategy with a clear timeline and deliverables.

  • Audience engagement
  • Creative development
  • Technology
  • Awards
  • Analytics
  • Client success

Make the change by integrating your strategic execution and day-to-day support program operations. Offering a comprehensive approach creates cascading efficiencies. 

  • Program design rooted in business goals
  • Implementation period attentive to setup and launch phase needs
  • Program management and participant monitoring across KPIs
  • Escalation and emergency management services covered by an in-house ISO-compliant team 
  • Program optimizations based on performance and scenario modeling

Proof point

A major manufacturer partnered with ITA Group to refresh their loyalty programs. By consolidating multiple programs under a single provider, they created a mix of tangible and intangible benefits. This E2E engagement included over six platforms and reached audiences across their many brands.  

Insights gained and efficiencies made in one area applied across all programs, maximizing their impact. We designed the platforms specifically to scale so we could add new business units. After a few years, total promotions climbed while operational hours tapered. Working smarter, that same team began to manage nearly 60 programs. There was a lower cost to operate each program. And the organization achieved stronger results because an E2E partner knew their business. 

How customer loyalty partners prepare for the future

An experienced E2E partner works proactively to evolve your program while managing operations. Becoming engrained in the mission, vision and values of the organization enables a comprehensive provider to ensure every customer-facing touchpoint is a positive brand experience. If a program can’t meet expectations, it will disappoint its audience—and profitability will plummet. 

Running various promotions targeting products, behaviors and segments shows you what’s working and what’s draining resources. It also highlights opportunities, like tying ticket giveaways toward a more strategic promotion, creating a deeper reward pool. 

These tactics forge emotional connections with customers that build long-term loyalty, even advocacy. (Imagine winning a pair of VIP passes to a pro football game, and the brand passion that would form out of that guest experience.) Organizations must identify critical moments in the journey to spark emotion that leaves a lasting memory.

Related: Get a handle on managing these six must-have elements to exceed customer expectations. 

The most high-performing customer loyalty programs are evolving from economies of scale. Now, they're micro-focused on using technology to meet individual, personalized needs. 

“Future operations likely will require a transformation from mass, periodic, manual and reactive decision-making to a more dynamic model that is continuous, automated and predictive,” according to a Deloitte forecast around consumer-market shifts. The programs that enable data-driven, real-time adaptability will meet today’s market complexities and keep pace with constantly changing consumer expectations.

Future-proof your customer loyalty operations with an end-to-end solution. Explore our whitepaper to understand the comprehensive approach to maximizing program success.

Download our customer loyalty white paper

Note: This article is part five of a six-part series on the key components of a successful customer loyalty program and how an end-to-end (E2E) partner can deliver a cohesive customer experience. Explore the other five components:

Sarah VanDerHart
Sarah VanDerHart

With over 12 years of experiential marketing and strategy experience, Sarah serves as the Customer Solutions Insights and Strategy Leader. As a leader of award-winning marketing teams, she thrives on delivering results-driven strategies that align with market trends to build emotional connections between customers and brands. Outside of work, you'll find her hosting a fun gathering with friends, running around with her husband and their two young daughters, or cheering on the Iowa State Cyclones!