Our panel debate on the future of customer loyalty: ‘Is the future of loyalty point-less?’ takes place on July 6th, and brings together experts from loyalty, data, CRM, e-commerce and digital product.
Ahead of the event, we spoke to our expert panellists to explore their backgrounds and viewpoints on the evolution of loyalty.
The next piece in the series is a fascinating conversation with Candice Lott, a former senior digital strategist and practitioner for some of the most well-known consumer-facing brands in the UK: Nando’s, Greene King, and CompareTheMarket.
Candice has led teams across CRM, loyalty, digital transformation and e-commerce with a particular focus on customer experience before most recently founding a digital training and recruitment business with a focus on social mobility.
In this wide-ranging interview, Candice shares her thoughts on where brands should be focusing efforts today, the challenges facing digital leaders expected to deliver these initiatives and why she believes that the customer experience will be the defining factor in whether you win or lose.
Gary Gould, Marketing Director, Red Badger (GG): In your opinion, what should loyalty and CRM leaders be focusing on over the next few years and where do you expect to see some of the biggest changes from today’s loyalty offerings?
Candice Lott (CL): I am a big believer that CRM leaders should be focusing on how they tap into a more emotive space with their customers and prospects. CRM programmes will win or lose based upon the quality of relationships built.
The question I always ask myself is, ‘what can my brand offer that a competitor cannot?’ And then I use this to build the CRM and loyalty offering.
Just sending a customer an email or offer on their birthday is lazy CRM in my opinion and often becomes wallpaper.
Pioneering leaders need to start thinking about how a younger audience wants to connect. What channels are they in? What do they care about? And how can brands ensure they become customers?
To stand out today, you need to really get into the mindset of the audience of the future and this is difficult unless you allow them to have a voice/say – brands should not just assume they know the needs of this audience.
GG: ‘Getting into the mindset of the audience of the future’, that sounds an awful lot like staying connected and engaged with audiences today to try and mitigate shifting expectations and demands.
Our work with clients is fixated on getting and staying as close to your audience as possible and learning to be comfortable with a level of uncertainty.
On this journey forward, what are some of the biggest challenges facing digital leaders in the loyalty space right now? And how do you envisage them breaking through these barriers and delivering more of what customers want and expect?
CL: I think that there are several challenges that digital leaders face today. I think it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out in the loyalty space.
Many schemes are points-based and similar and very rational. I have a strong belief that rational CRM schemes work but that if brands can find a way to also tap into a more emotional space then this is a winning formula. I think CompareTheMarket have always done this well.
Brands need to ensure they are using the data they gather from their programmes to understand if they are truly driving sales versus cannibalising sales. They need to ensure that their CRM isn’t just becoming a discount scheme.
I know I said this already, but I think younger audiences are going to be harder to tap into and encourage to be loyal. The key here is to ask younger audiences and not just assume what they want. Do it often, do it openly and pay attention to what they say.
And finally, we need to realise that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to loyalty.
Some customers are price-driven, some are brand-driven, and some want to feel like a VIP so brands may find it challenging to build a program that covers all bases and still has an easy mechanic.
Data will be the key unlocker here.
GG: Our recent loyalty event doubling down on Gen Z surfaced that insight about a more meaningful and emotive connection.
Research has clearly identified a major shift towards a more mutual value exchange and it feels that this is going to be a major battleground for brands.
Your business is all about education and training the necessary digital skills for product development - particularly relating to Customer Experience.
Do you believe that CX is the new front line for brands and what would your advice be for organisations looking to find competitive advantage or differentiation?
CL: I whole-hearted believe that brands will win or lose based on customer experience.
Brands have an opportunity to win customer loyalty beyond just discounting or points if they can build an enviable experience. My best advice to brands is to not get too caught up in short-term returns.
I have seen brands make this mistake so many times and then it’s a race to the bottom with more discounts and eroding profit margins. Use data to really understand the value of a customer and invest in the longer term to keep them.
I also think brands need to ensure they are constantly investing in their teams to ensure fresh thinking and cutting-edge ideas. The quality of your digital expertise and a broad range of experiences is key here.
Want to hear more from Candice and our other loyalty experts?
Register your interest for our upcoming future of loyalty debate and grab your seat for what promises to be an interesting and valuable session.