Traditionally loyalty programs retain customers by offering rewards and discounts on future purchases. As we’ve transitioned to a world where we have both brick and mortar and ecommerce retail environments and have seen advancements in retail technologies, companies are now able to capture more data about their customers than ever before.
Examples of customer data sources
Big data technologies are allowing companies to collect, aggregate and analyze customer data from a variety of sources. The breadth and depth of this data is giving much greater visibility into who customers are and their buyer behavior and allowing companies to see a full 360° view of their customer. Loyalty programs are leveraging these 360° customer views to increase customer retention and satisfaction. Below are some of the ways loyalty programs are being transformed by big data today.
Before companies had a 360° view of their customer, they used mass marketing tactics to provide general discounts and rewards to their loyalty program participants. Now companies can leverage big data to understand each individual customer’s purchasing behavior and preferences. In addition, predictive analytics can be used to provide personalized offers and recommendations for new products providing value to customers by saving time and reducing spam. Geolocation data is being leveraged by some companies to provide personalized offers based on customer location. Retailers are creating customer loyalty mobile apps that send push notifications to customers when they enter a retail location using geolocation data adding another layer of personalization to the loyalty program.
Loyalty programs provide a wealth of customer insights. These insights can be used to drive marketing strategy as well as provide data to make informed merchandising and inventory management decisions. Taking this concept further, some organizations are creating 3rd party loyalty programs such as the Plenti card to aggregate customer data from network of retailers and create a central repository of the participating retailers’ customer data. The 3rd party loyalty program provider then is able to provide each individual retailer with even richer customer insights then they would receive through their own independent loyalty program. It’s important to note here the importance of privacy when dealing with customer data. Especially when it’s being shared between companies or externally. Companies are able to mask and tokenize personally identifiable information using big data management tools, such as Zaloni’s Bedrock Data Lake Management Platform, to ensure that their customer's privacy is protected.
Improved Customer Experience and Increased Customer Satisfaction
Companies are also using big data to improve customer experience. Support teams within an organization can now see the full customer 360° profile and have a better understanding of each customer's needs and the history of their interactions with the company which leads to a more personalized service experience. For companies pursuing omni-channel retail experiences for their customers, it’s important for them to have a full 360° of their customers. This data is used to ensure that the customer is having a consistent experience across web, mobile and brick and mortar. Consistency, personalization and positive customer experiences lead to increased customer satisfaction.
Some companies are leveraging big data and customer loyalty programs to open new revenue streams and monetize the data they're collecting. We’ve seen this in the telecommunications industry where companies are using geolocation and network data to track and optimize network usage at the subscriber level increasing the quality of service. This also allows companies to create new offers for their subscribers based on their geolocation data. Retailers are beginning to monetize customer data by creating customer insights packages that can be sold to vendors and suppliers for new product development and to predict future demand for a product.
As technology continues to advance and we see trends such as the Internet of Things and smart devices becoming a reality, the amount of customer data will continue to increase. To maintain competitive advantage, companies will need to leverage these large amounts of data to power personalized loyalty programs that increase customer retention and improve customer satisfaction.