How to Give Your Rewards Program a Complete Makeover

Jun 12th, 2023
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If you’re looking to boost customer loyalty and take your rewards program to the next level, you might want to consider adopting a “Loyalty 2.0” approach. This next generation of loyalty programs is designed to go beyond traditional transactional models and focus on creating personalized experiences that truly engage and delight customers.

In this article, we’ll show you how to give your rewards program a complete makeover using the principles of Loyalty 2.0. Whether you’re just starting out with a rewards program or looking to revamp an existing one, this guide will provide you with actionable tips and best practices for implementing a Loyalty 2.0 strategy that drives customer loyalty and business growth. So let’s get started!

Is It the Right Time to Revamp Your Loyalty Program? 

In a constantly changing marketplace, more and more companies are updating their rewards strategies to stay competitive. Even those who are satisfied with their current programs are choosing to refresh their offerings, introducing new features and more flexible technology.

One possible reason for this trend is that updating a loyalty program isn’t an admission of failure. Brands can recognize that even a well-performing program can benefit from occasional improvements. As customers’ expectations change and the competition evolves, businesses need to keep up with the times, adapting their offerings and experiences to keep customers engaged and loyal.

In addition, during times of crisis, loyalty programs can be a lifeline for businesses. Retaining customers is a top priority for marketing leaders, according to Gartner’s recent survey on CMO priorities, and in periods of economic uncertainty, customer loyalty can be a crucial advantage. As inflation rates rise, Forrester has noted the importance of customer loyalty as a means of preserving sales and maintaining brand recognition.

With this in mind, brands are looking to revamp their loyalty programs to ensure they have a retention strategy that can withstand economic challenges. This often means revisiting the program’s structure, rewards, and technology, to find ways to make the program more flexible and engaging for customers.

How to Begin Revamping Your Loyalty Program

When it comes to revamping a loyalty program, the technical aspects can be some of the most challenging to tackle. It’s important to remember, however, that executing your vision for an updated program will be a major undertaking. In fact, according to Forrester’s article on loyalty program ROI, improving customer loyalty is an enterprise-wide responsibility. This means that decisions and contributions should come from the whole organization, not just the marketing team. This is particularly true during the revamp of your loyalty program, which should be a shared project involving key stakeholders such as the CMO, CTO, and even the CFO.

To ensure that your revamp process goes smoothly, it’s important to follow a series of major steps. While every company’s situation is unique, the following steps will generally apply:

1. Build the concept for your new loyalty program

When revamping a loyalty program, creating a concept document is a critical step, even if you’re simply replatforming. Starting with the concept documentation and any relevant information from the original program will help speed up the implementation process significantly.

If you’re planning to change the entire structure of the loyalty program, it’s still advisable to use the original documentation as a starting point. However, you should also flesh out the differences in program types, rewards, features, and other key details. It’s important to keep in mind that the concept document should always be detailed and thorough, and ideally longer than a single page.

By creating a comprehensive concept document, you’ll have a clear roadmap for the revamp process. This document will serve as a reference point for all stakeholders involved in the project, and can help ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of the program’s goals, structure, and features.

As you work on the concept document, make sure to consider factors such as customer behavior, industry trends, and your business’s specific goals and challenges. By taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to the revamp process, you’ll be better positioned to create a loyalty program that truly meets the needs of your customers and your business

2. Select the right loyalty platform provider through an RFP

One key takeaway is that the capabilities of your loyalty technology can make or break the success of your program. That’s why choosing a best-in-class platform provider should be a top priority. To accomplish this, we highly recommend sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to potential providers.

While creating an RFP can be a time-consuming process, it can be very beneficial as it requires you to thoroughly list all of your needs, both in terms of strategy and technology. This will help you to better evaluate and compare the applicants you receive, and make an informed business decision that aligns with your goals and objectives.

By taking the time to develop an RFP that outlines your needs and requirements, you can ensure that the technology solution you choose will be a good fit for your business and support your overall loyalty program strategy. In short, investing the effort to create an RFP can pay off in the long run by helping you make an informed decision that will set your program up for success.

3. Execute the data migration

When it’s time to launch your revamped loyalty program, you’ll need to work closely with your chosen technology vendor to ensure that everything goes smoothly. The good news is that launching a loyalty program the second time around is typically much smoother, as brands already have experience with each implementation stage and know which pitfalls to avoid.

Execute the data migration

That said, there is one extra step that comes with a loyalty program revamp: data migration. This involves migrating your current loyalty data to your new provider. It’s a crucial step that requires thorough data mapping and may take some time, depending on the number of data categories you want to move. It’s generally best to migrate key data categories such as customer information, rewards, point histories, and transaction histories.

It’s important to never leave this step to the last minute. Dedicate at least 1-2 months to ensure that all data is migrated properly, so that you can avoid any issues or complications down the line. Proper data migration can help ensure that your loyalty program launches successfully and that your customers’ data is properly transferred to your new program. With this step completed, you can move forward with confidence and start reaping the rewards of your revamped loyalty program.

4. Integrate, configure and test the new loyalty system

The integration of your loyalty program is a critical step in the revamp process, as it ensures that data flows seamlessly between your loyalty program, your own systems, and any third-party service providers you may be working with. Once integration is complete, the next step is to start building the end product.

This involves setting up various features on the loyalty program platform, uploading images, configuring the values for currency conversion, and more. It’s important to pay close attention to the details during this stage, as even small errors can result in a negative customer experience.

Once the loyalty program is built, it’s time for User Acceptance Testing. This process involves testing both positive and negative scenarios, as well as rare edge cases, to ensure that the program is functioning as intended and that customers will have a positive experience. User Acceptance Testing should take at least a month, but it’s always a good idea to dedicate extra time to this critical step, depending on your previous experiences.

5. Prepare for launch

Preparing for the launch of your updated loyalty program can be an exciting but hectic time. It’s important to make sure that you notify your members of any anticipated downtime during the transition period, so they are aware of the changes and the impact on their experience. This is especially critical since customer events might happen during the downtime, and you want to ensure that you launch with up-to-date data.

In addition, setting up effective marketing communication is essential to keep customers engaged and informed throughout the revamp process. Customers who are accustomed to an existing rewards program may initially view any changes with skepticism, so it’s crucial to manage their expectations by highlighting the exciting new features and benefits that the updated program will offer.

Consider using a variety of channels to communicate with your members, including email, social media, and your website. Provide clear and concise messaging that emphasizes the benefits of the new program and the ways in which it will enhance the customer experience. By doing so, you can create a sense of excitement and anticipation around the launch, while also ensuring that your customers are fully informed and prepared for the changes.

Parting Words Before the Big Transformation

When it comes to revamping your loyalty program, it’s important to rely on best practices and draw upon the experience you’ve gained so far. However, if you don’t have access to the staff and documentation from your original program launch, don’t worry. You can seek the help of a consultant to review your program concept, and it can also be beneficial to conduct research on current trends in loyalty programs. These steps will ensure that you are well-prepared for the implementation process, which will be much smoother and faster as a result.

We understand that the process of rebuilding your loyalty program can be complex and challenging. However, we hope that this article has provided you with some valuable insights and guidance. If you’re ready to revamp your loyalty program, our team at ezLoyalty is here to help. We would love to hear about your vision and discuss how our technology can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to learn more about our services and solutions.

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