#526: Creating Consistent Digital-led and Human-led Moments Matters

In this week’s episode of the “Wiser Loyalty” podcast series ⁠⁠Bill Hanifin⁠ and Aaron Dauphinee offer up their perspective on one last construct that is taken from the Loyalty Academy’s Key Success Factors in Loyalty Marketing (course #112) curriculum.

Technological innovations and consumer adoption rates are on the rise, which is creating a new consumer expectation for consistency across their experiences and interactions irrespective of whether digitally-enabled or person-to-person. Successful loyalty programs have seen brands master providing consumers with choice across channels of interaction but now that mastery also includes consistency in quality, flexibility, and outcomes to create moments that matter.

In the Wiser Loyalty series, Bill and Aaron draw a theme each month based on the courses required to earn the Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ (CLMP™) designation and this is now the third month of this global loyalty education series.

Show Notes:

1) ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Aaron Dauphinee⁠⁠⁠⁠

2) ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Bill Hanifin⁠⁠⁠⁠

3)  ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠The Wise Marketer 

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, the Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Loyalty and also Loyalty TV. If you work in loyalty marketing, you can watch our video interviews every Thursday on www.loyalty.tv. And of course, you can listen to our podcasts every Tuesday, every Wednesday, and every Thursday to learn the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

Today’s episode is part of The Wiser Loyalty series, which is hosted by our partners, The Wise Marketer Group. The Wise Marketer group is a media education and advisory services company.

Providing resources for loyalty marketers through The Wise Marketer digital publication and the loyalty Academy program that offers the certified loyalty marketing professional or CLMP designation. I hope you enjoy this weekly podcast, The Wiser loyalty series. Brought to you by Let’s Talk Loyalty and The Wise Marketer Group.

Just before we share today’s episode, I want to ask you to sign up to the Let’s Talk Loyalty email newsletter. Our email newsletter is by far the best way for us to keep you up to date with all of the latest incredible loyalty stories we’re sharing each week. It’s also the easiest place for you to find our show notes with links to everything mentioned in all of the episodes.

You can sign up at letstalkloyalty.com.

Bill: Welcome everyone. I’m Bill Hanifin, the CEO of the Wise Marketer Group, and I’m one of the two hosts of the Wiser Loyalty Series, and we’re really glad to have you back here with us again for this weekly episode. I’m here with my partner and CMO Aaron Dauphinee, morning. Aaron, how are you? 

Aaron: Hi. Good morning everyone.

Bill: Good to see you. 

Aaron: Always good to see you.

Bill: We want to thank everybody for tuning in. If you’re a return visitor, you know that we’re tackling constructs based on our course curriculum in the Loyalty Academy. We pick a different topic every month, and then we break it down into four nice little segments and try to keep it crisp and fast.

And this month, we are talking about key success factors in loyalty. So we’ve covered. And this is based on our course number 112, right, Aaron? 

Aaron: That’s correct. 

Bill: Our key success factor. And we might want to mention to everybody that this is one of the courses that’s being refreshed at this very moment, which is great, along with a bunch of others. 

So what’s really interesting today, we’re going to take a look at the aspect of key success factors that are related to loyalty technology. We’re talking this month about key success factors as they relate to loyalty technology. And it’s a very interesting time that we’re living in because technological innovations and consumer adoption rates are on the rise for loyalty programs. But there’s a brand new expectation being created on the part of consumers because as they see more and more technology come into the market, they make assumptions about the efficacy of that technology. They assume that everything’s going to happen correctly. It’s going to happen quickly. It’s going to happen without error. They like to be recognized and they want this great experience to be delivered, whether it’s happening all just based on technology, call it digitally enabled, or whether it’s happening person to person at a checkout counter or in a store or something like that. So what we’ve seen is it’s great to use the technology and to give consumers choice to work across different channels to whether it’s making a purchase or just an inquiry.

And it’s great to give people flexibility and hopefully improve the quality of interactions and such. But what we’re also seeing, in this pursuit of what we’re calling flawless execution is a gap that’s been created and there’s going to talk a little bit about this gap. So, while we, while we all pitch and talk about flawless execution. The reality is that we’ve got great technology. We’ve got high expectations and then there’s this gap. So we’re talking about, you know, why the gap even exists and what we can do to close that gap.

Aaron: Yeah, and to build on what you’re saying, Bill, I think it’s the gap in terms of what the net outcome is right there when you pick a different channel one that may be digitally enabled versus the person to person like the examples that you cited. Oftentimes the end outcome is very different. And so that’s really the call to action here is to have that consistency in terms of the member’s success and what the member gets in terms of a benefit or a reward. At the end of the day, irrespective of the channel of choice that they are choosing to have.

And what we see oftentimes is you know, many programs have evolved and know that they need to give choice in terms of tender, whether it’s you know, cash, debit or credit in terms of how individuals earn it’s moving into crypto and alternative currencies as well to. They’re getting better at providing multiple channels of interaction, like you said in storm through their member care center, making it easy to chat online, you know, with a chat bot. Not a chat bot, but like a chat device. Or, you know, even in some instances, old, you know, documenting things, if there’s a customer service issue that they send an email, right. The email still exists in this is a familiar choice. But the point being, it’s all the choice of the individual as to how they interact and to resolve something that might be a customer issue or in terms of interacting with the program to get a benefit or reward, as I mentioned.

So, you know, all this element of choices is embedded in. They even have choice in terms of which tier threshold they might want to try and aspire to get to and then achieve. And then we’re seeing even more so choice in terms of curated catalogs on the redemption side, so much more specificity down to the individual as well, too.

And so what the real gap here that you talked about is when we’re interacting in a channel that is much more digitally enabled versus that human driven interaction that the gap is like, what’s that end outcome? As I said, and so effectively, you know, we want to make sure that In the absence of an individual not being available that the technology is enabling in such a way that it gets to the same point or the same outcome that you would have when you’re across from a person.

Let me give you an example of this, just kind of to bring it home a little bit. If I am going to purchase a car, and I think there’s a number of automobile companies that do this, but Tesla comes to mind. That’s really strong and leading the way. If I go online and ,look at Tesla, I get all the information that I need, and I’m almost ready to purchase a car. And in fact, I can purchase a car right from the online experience, but that’s just not the normal way that we think about purchasing a car for most people. We go into the dealership, we have a conversation with the sales associate, and there’s a battlement of this back and forth that comes into play where there’s some hidden information that the associate has to get us the best deal in some regard.

Tesla stripped that out completely and made it transparent because when you go into the dealership. The associate really goes on to the website, same interface that you would if you were sitting at home and walks you through the steps. And so that was to get to purchase. So you get this element of trusted understanding that irrespective of the channel of choice I’m going to have the same consistent outcome that happens. And that’s really the call to action is to get that consistency as a key success factor in your program so that you don’t have individuals choosing certain channels because they know that they can get a different outcome or manipulate the system in some regard.

Bill: Right, so I can give you a quick one. I just two top of mind examples that I was flying recently. And for one of the first times, I felt like a very probably simple technology was making my travel experience in the airport easier. And it was something as simple as I was waiting at the gate, you know, how the, you get the confusing messages, all the gate announcements and one gate agent is talking over another and you’ve got the noise in the airport. So you know, have you ever had to strain your ear and see, make sure they’re not announcing your gate is closing. 

Aaron: Yes. 

Bill: And so I was able to sit down and I was kind of surprised because I was on my app because I had my boarding pass, of course, in my app, but I started to receive notifications.

Aaron: Right.

Bill: And so I was getting the information I needed quietly low stress. It made my experience better. It was just simply about updates on boarding status you know, letting us know which group was boarding when. So I knew exactly when to stand up when to move towards the front. I didn’t have to wonder or to do that thing that crowd that crowding of the out of attention and then just any other announcements that they had. Now, I know that sounds very simple, but that to me was a really good use of technology to help make the experience better. 

And I’ll throw you one on the other side and I don’t want to offend your sensitivities around the Marriott program because it’s one of my favorites too, but I have, I love the idea of checking in advance. And I love the idea of having a digital room key and being able to sweep right through the lobby and into the elevator and up to get into my room. Sadly, I have not ever had my key work properly, and I’ve been required to go to the desk, the front desk. So why does it happen? It might have had to do with, with my credit card, maybe they needed an update on the credit card, or they weren’t sure exactly if it was the same one I used on my reservation. Let’s say, I don’t know, there were some anomaly there. The credit card is working. I promise you that part, but it was some inconsistency in the information. But and then it was something maybe about, identity, I think they wanted idea and I thought, why do you want ID if I’m working everything through the app and you set the expectation that would be my sole access into my room. But I just wanted to put those two out there a good and a not so good. And I wanted to get your reaction to those.

Aaron: Yeah, I think the key thing to pick up on here is about the fact that the brand through the loyalty program has set the expectation like that’s what we’re trying to do in terms of this key success faster success factor. Pardon me, if you’re going to give different services and different experiences, they, once you set that expectation, you need to deliver upon it as well, too. And whether that’s done by a human or done by a digital platform. It has to be hit the mark, so to speak, or deliver on that. Well, to promise to some degree.

We know that in the case of Marriott, I think the one thing there that I would say is you know, if I am a platinum member, platinum elite member with their program I know that I get a free room upgrades to the best room anytime. And so maybe the experience you’re talking about has to do with what you outlined it to be, you know, it was worth a credit card or identity, or they just wanted to confirm. But as a platinum elite member, you know, and I do believe I probably have different status. And then you just from the discussions in the past.

Bill: Probably.

Aaron: That information is resoundingly there. That’s very consistent. You know, I’m at a number of rooms that are quite high in the past few months. And so for me, really, the ultimate thing is, well, am I going to be confident in knowing that I get the room upgrade that I expect if I go through the mobile app or if I go to the desk? So, I actually do the opposite where I rarely use the mobile app because I don’t trust the system the way it’s designed to automatically connect me through to the best room because there is still an element of control that, you know, I wouldn’t think that the hotel year would want to have actually. And so I can be empathetic and see why they would want to have that control. 

But for the point being you’re using a digital technology that sets the expectation that drives you to a human being, that’s a bit of a miss gap on either of those two situations to some degree, one where you’re not trusting in the other, where you’re trying to resolve an issue that they put some friction into the process you know, that’s created detriment to you.

Bill: And you shared a really interesting example with me. It’s another airline example, isn’t it? You can color coded boarding passes. Tell me about that. 

Aaron: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, there’s a couple airlines that are utilizing the loyalty program and as you do the onboarding experience, you put up your cell phone. I don’t have mine in my hand today, otherwise I’d show you but the boarding pass is a different color corresponding to the level of the program that you’re in or the tier that you’re in. And so that’s really quite an easy way to enable and arm your associates, the front line gate staff and those potentially even those on board about where this individuals ranks in terms of the hierarchy of importance to the individual airline.

I know Delta does it for sure. And a few others have hopped onto the bandwagon, so to speak. But that’s a good example of utilizing technology in a sound way that enhances the customer experience and brings digital and human together to make it much more seamless. You know, and I’ve even heard of it extending onto the airline where the specific flight attendants have iPads or their iPhones enabled so that they have access to the loyalty mechanism and system so that they can talk through and understand where the person ranks in the hierarchy of the loyalty program. Right. And you see that sometimes when you travel in business class, you know, they’re the whole business class is getting a nice meal. But they go to, and this is, I’ll speak for Air Canada as a simple, very easy example they go to the a hundred thousand K a super elite individuals and ask them if what, if they want chicken beef for the vegetarian first, before they go to 75K 50K, et cetera, and so forth.

And that just makes sense. Like if you’re sitting in that and you’re frequent flyer and you know, the status tiers, like I actually respect in the fact that they go to those those with higher status first and then go down the hierarchy as long as they don’t jump the queue, so to speak. And I have someone that’s so if I ever found that out to be, then I’d be rather disappointed associate, but I don’t think they do. I’m just kind of, you know, raising a bit of a cautionary flag on that, but when it’s delivered correctly there is a pecking order at the end of the day and there should be a pecking order at the end of the day. And I thought, I think it’s more and more okay to be transparent about that and have humans and or technology letting people know where they rank in that specking order and that the end outcome is consistent, whether I talk with the human or interact with the human worth as if I use a digital channel. So I think that’s really what we’re getting at. 

Bill: That’s really good. So just to close this out, because we try to keep these segments pretty quick. Chris do you think it’s fair to say, just like we give customers channel choice, do we want to give them the the eject button for technology? If you’ve got, if you’ve got somebody who’s a valued customer, and the technology is either not working, or maybe it’s just their desire to go and speak to a person, or they want another outlet, how do we, how do, how should brands be balancing their use of this awesome, great technology that’s available and still being able to serve people the way they want to be served?

Aaron: Yeah great, great  setup. I think that the giving the channel choice to the customer is the right thing. And so if they’re tech led, then they let them allow them to interact in the tech mentality. But if they’re human oriented, some people still want to talk to human, let them do it that way. And I know we make the decisions to do that. It’s oftentimes about cost of service. So I know, understand why the brand would want to guide people to certain channels over others, but irrespective of offering those choices, I think it is good. And that’s where we should aspire to.

The next level on this though is making sure that it’s consistent across those experiences, that the interactions, no matter whether I choose to be tech led or I choose to be more human led in my interactions with the brand and the loyalty program, that they all are lead to the end consistent outcome. And that’s the key success factor ultimately is consistency.

Bill: Excellent way to wrap this up. So thank you all for listening, for being here with us again, for Wiser Loyalty. It’s a fun series that we’re tying all this information back to the courses in the Loyalty Academy curriculum. And this month we’ve been talking about key success factors. We’re just wrapping it up at this point. And come back and join us. We’re exploring, we’re learning, and we hope you’re learning along with us. So we’ll see you back here next time. Thanks, Aaron. 

Aaron: Thanks everyone. Have a great weekend. Cheers!

Paula: This show is sponsored by Wise Marketer Group, publisher of The Wise Marketer, the premier digital customer loyalty marketing resource for industry relevant news insights, and research. Wise Marketer Group also offers loyalty education, and training globally through its Loyalty Academy, which has certified nearly 900 marketers and executives in 49 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For global coverage of customer engagement and loyalty, check out thewisemarketer.com and become a wiser marketer or subscriber. Learn more about global loyalty education for individuals or corporate training programs at loyaltyacademy.org. 

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com. And we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms. And of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.