#383: TGI Fridays’ Strategic Focus On Loyalty: Fridays Rewards

Lindsay Eichten is a seasoned loyalty executive across multiple industries, but in her role as Director CRM, Loyalty & Media, she leads a small team to deliver the launch of Fridays Rewards for the iconic brand, TGI Fridays. 

Lindsay highlights that loyalty is a key strategic initiative for TGI Fridays, which therefore means she has the support and the focus on her team’s deliverables in this role.  She emphasizes how starting the change management process with the chain’s front line staff has been critical to understand what makes a great restaurant loyalty experience and to get the buy in from the team at the front line.

Finally, Lindsay supports how important it is to secure the right technology partner, which can work on a global scale for a brand as expansive as TGI Fridays.

Hosted by Amanda Cromhout.

Show Notes:

1) Lindsay Eichten

2)  TGI Fridays

3)  NEW Fridays Rewards

4)  Data Delivers

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, the Founder of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Today’s show is hosted by my colleague Amanda Cromhout, the Founder of Truth and International Loyalty Consultancy firm based in Cape Town, South Africa. If you work in loyalty marketing, make sure to join Let’s Talk Loyalty every Tuesday, every Wednesday and every Thursday to learn the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

Did you know that Mastercard is one of the world’s largest loyalty service providers? Working with leading global brands across financial services, travel, retail, dining, fuel, and consumer goods, Mastercard designs loyalty strategies that build and sustain authentic personal relationships. Their loyalty platforms, PowerPoints, cashback and offers programs to deliver Mastercard’s, priceless benefits and incentives in real time to your consumers.

Visit go.mastercardservices.com/ltl to learn how Mastercard can help you build stronger relationships through smarter engagement. 

Amanda: Hello, I’m Amanda Cromhout from Truth. Today I have the absolute pleasure of talking to Lindsay Eichten . She’s the Director of CRM Loyalty and Media, TGI Fridays. Lindsay has vast loyalty experience across multiple sectors in retail, entertainment agency, and now restaurants.

The highlights of today’s interview are the wonderful phrases Lindsay uses to describe her views around loyalty and the launch of the new Fridays Rewards. Phrases such as technology should never be in the way. Soft benefits committee and marrying the art and science of what customers say they want versus what they actually do.

Lindsay has led a small yet mighty team of three people to launch Fridays Rewards. The program itself is very interesting to learn about, but the real takeaways are firstly, how TGI Fridays leadership is fully behind loyalty in it’s their number one priority. Secondly, how starting with the frontline staff has been mission critical. And thirdly, how choosing the right technology partner for the global footprint of TGI Fridays and for the long term, these are the real lessons for us from Lindsay’s very insightful interview.

So, hello Lindsay. Lindsay Eichten, who is Director of CRM Loyalty and Media at TGI Fridays. What an incredible brand. So welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Lindsay: Thank you. So glad to be here. 

Amanda: Now there’s one traditional question we always kick off with. I’m super excited to get straight into the other questions, but we really do also want to know, please, Lindsay, what is your favorite lsy program?

Lindsay: DSW from a shoe retailer perspective here in the US has really mastered the in-store experience, the digital experience, tiering within loyalty, brand introductions, partnerships. It’s, it’s just been a program I’ve personally enjoyed using and as a marketer have had great envy in watching all the great things they’ve turned out.

Amanda: That’s amazing. And actually as a, as a woman, I’ll share, I think every woman in the world has a passion for shoes. So I think that’s the first time I’ve heard a brand, a shoe brand with a loyalty program being quoted as the favorite. So that’s super interesting. 

So Lindsay, I recently read that you were honored by the Hospitality Technology Magazine as a rising star in the 2023 Top Woman in Restaurant Technology Awards.

So clearly you are no stranger to the industry, but before you actually made a massive impact on the restaurant industry, you also had a varied career outside of hospitality or restaurants. So can you share some of that with us that brings you up to your fantastic role today? 

Lindsay: Sure. So I am fan girl, number one of all things customer marketing. So my background started in entertainment at cinema movie theaters, and we were at the time exploring loyalty. It was sort of the new frontier for some of the movie theater chains back in, in the early two thousands. So we were exploring and kind of trying to figure out would that be an area for us to grow in.

And I just got bit by the one-to-one marketing bug. And so I had a chance to make a move to JCPenney during the Ron Johnson administration, which was the retailer from Apple who was gonna change the face of retail, eliminate discounts. And very quickly I was thrown into a committee called the Soft Benefits Committee to try to figure out how you could possibly have a loyalty program and guest experience without any discounting.

Unfortunately, we learned a hard lesson that year that guests are very motivated by discounts and couponing. And so we’ve made a quick pivot. we had something like 50 million members at our heyday in the program, about 20 million with a credit card, and so just really got to dabble in a lot of different ways, how to bring to life a loyalty experience at scale, across JCPenney in, in a, you know, obviously very different environment than where JCPenney finds herself today.

I made a move to Sally Beauty to try my hand at specialty retail, getting to work a little bit of the B2B side, as well as B2C as Sally Beauty served both a cosmetology customer as well as just a regular guest who aspires to do her own hair, kind of DIY fashion at home. And with that we built out two different types of customer personas, and we discovered that the needs state is pretty different from a professional who might need tons and tons and tons of gloves. And someone like myself who’s gonna try her hand at balayage hair technique because now there’s the internet and I can do everything. And so identifying those need states and solving those problems for guests with digital solutions and a new loyalty program, was a really rewarding, sometimes challenging, but fun experience for me.

Amanda: I’m sure. I mean, that’s wonderful to hear about the different channel split you had to address in, in effectively the same program rollout was it? 

Lindsay: Exactly right. And yeah, you’re, you’re kind of tap dancing around because you don’t wanna isolate one of the customer groups. But you need to meet them where they are to serve them well.

Amanda: Just listening to you talk about JC Penny though, like 50 million, like talk about a loyalty experience at scale, but your words of Soft Benefits Committee. I have never heard that before and I love it. Even though.

Lindsay: We we’re looking, yeah, we were looking into like, could we serve warm chocolate chip cookies in the restaurant to loyalty members or offer tailoring services. Perhaps there’s like a quiet lounge to escape the busy mall during the holiday season. Things like that. 

Amanda: Amazing. Like I love that. I think a lot of brands, even though you did follow that up with, well, customers still want money or return in points and cash. But even so to actually have a soft benefits committee shows the commitment towards it. That is wonderful. So after the retail environment and after the cinema environment, is that when you stepped into the restaurant world? 

Lindsay: I did a very quick stint, what I call my agency experiment. I worked for Epsilon, a leading loyalty technology solution. Really got to grow in depth of customer data, data structure, things like data marts, CDPs, and how those all serve, to personalize a guest experience on the outward facing that just looks like a loyalty program to our guests. So spent some time there at Epsilon. 

And then about a year and a half ago I made the move to restaurant and I have just found my passion area with restaurant operators. They are some of the biggest hustlers I’ve ever worked with. They’ll have your back. They are all in. And I’m really excited that we were able to bring to life a rewards program with new technology that serves them as hard as they work to serve our guests. And technology should never be in the way. That should only be the thing that makes their life easier, as they’re trying to bring celebratory moments to life for guests in our restaurants. 

Amanda: You’re coming up with some beautiful statements. I’ve already captured another one. Technology should never be in the way. I mean, they’re so, it’s so simple and yet so utterly impactful. So thank you already. It’s not fancy. 

Lindsay: It’s not tricky. Like there’s nothing that’s gonna go, Ooh, that should make ad age. Like it’s just do it really well. Yes, and it’ll solve a lot of problems.

Amanda: But isn’t that really the case with everything? Let’s do the simple stuff really, really well. I mean, absolutely. So Lindsay, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pre-discussion we had as well as so far today you are oozing with energy around the restaurant industry as you were when we chatted, just to get to know each other before the interview.

And you did mention then and already today how vastly different the restaurant industry is to the other industries like retail that you’ve already worked in, so please share that with us. Why is it so different? 

Lindsay: On the surface, it might feel very similar to compare retail and restaurant. You have an in restaurant or an in-store channel. You have an online or an app channel and, and so you support that with email, you support it with loyalty, you support it with media and all of that kind of feels and looks the same on the surface. But the truth is my online experience for retail really is fairly limited in terms of what I can customize and my time expectation is usually measured in in days for when I’ll receive that purchase and get to enjoy my retail shopping.

Whereas in the restaurant industry, I wanna be able to order my food. I want it as fast as possible. I, I don’t want cheese on my hamburger. I wanna swap out my french fries for a side salad. I don’t want croutons on the salad. I want ranch dressing. And, and the customizations are almost endless. And how we let our guests choose to order from us and they want it immediately.

They want it within 20 minutes. They want it hot. They want it not soggy the fries to be crisp. And, all of that sets a very high expectation on what the digital channels are able to enable for the guest because it’s, it’s no longer just a, I like my shirt in blue and I like it in this particular size.

I want it to be made to my specification and delivered to me because I am hungry. And I am not gonna wait. 

Amanda: It sounds like either myself or my children ordering from a takeaway. But you, but you’re absolutely right and I’ve never thought about it in that way. Like I, you know, I’m also in a restaurant ordering particularly, down to a level of personalization or online, and I’ve never thought about it in the same way as, as other loyalty transactions.

Where would you say it’s possibly the same? Where would you say restaurants are the same as the other industry verticals? Traditional verticals of loyalty, banking, retail, and so on? 

Lindsay: I think that the guest has been well conditioned to expect pretty close to perfection in their channels. And even when you engage with a, a store employee, or in our case as a server or a bartender, I want it to be exactly correct.

I don’t wanna encounter any technical challenges. The kiss of death for me, just as a consumer is the password reset loop where I can’t seem to ever overcome just the sign in. And so if we can really challenge ourselves to look at the best in breed, for, for guest experience, no matter the channel.

We’ve gotta fall just as head long after that as and as fast as we can to bring that to life. Because guests don’t tolerate inconvenience. They don’t tolerate bad technology. Like maybe we would’ve put up with 10 years ago. 

Amanda: And what would you say are some of those best in breed? What would you compare those to?

Lindsay: It’s really unfair. Like my team’s, two whole people, but they’re gonna compare the Fridays Rewards app experience with Amazon. They’re gonna compare it with American Airlines. They’re gonna compare it with, these financial service institutions that have armies of folks managing and overseeing the digital channels. And, and so we’ve got to really go after the feature set and the functionality that makes those experiences very reliable, very rewarding because the, the patients and the, the tolerance level for anything less now is, is just not there anymore. 

Amanda: And I think particularly from all of us, when you’re in a restaurant, the tolerance level is so much lower, isn’t it?

Lindsay: It is. Absolutely.

Amanda: Than what you’re expecting from the bank and so forth. Okay, so let’s actually get to the main excitement of why this interview is taking place now.

So, you have recently launched Friday Rewards, very recently. And whe when I’ve, what I’ve learned about it so far, it’s super spectacularly simple but powerful. So please talk us through the new program that consumers are experiencing already. 

Lindsay: Yes, happy to. It’s, it’s not anything that’s terribly fancy or, or exciting or necessarily even that creative, but what we’ve done is focused just almost with, a fine tooth microscope on, on moments that have caused dis, dissatisfaction with either the guest or with our server team. 

So if you’re the, the front face of the restaurant responsible for delivering this highly personalized, high expectation experience face to face with a guest and you go to the point of sale and you try to look up a guest and I, I can’t figure out how to redeem their rewards for them.

Or there’s some kind of error. The system went down, whatever it was, and I can’t give them their points back. Those were the kinds of things that really inhibited the type of experience and ownership that our restaurants were seeking. 

And so what we’ve done is we’ve relaunched the Fridays Rewards program. We’ve simplified the way that you can earn points. We’ve simplified the ways that you can redeem your rewards. Our goal is that our guests redeem as much as possible. We have everyday rewards where you get free chips and salsa. Once a day, every day, no minimum purchase, or you can turn that chips and salsa into any appetizer and take three dollars off.

And then our point earning structure starts at just 75 points. You can get a kid’s meal, a dessert, any of our appetizers or a non-alcoholic drink. And then for 150 points, we’ve taken the top off and you can get any entree. We wanna make it super simple. We wanna make it super engaging and super rewarding because we believe that if you’re receiving value from the program, you’re gonna be even more loyal and keep coming back more and more to enjoy your experience with Fridays.

Because we’ve taken all these technical hurdles that previously slowed you down. And blocked you from achieving that value. 

Amanda: I love the super simple, super engaging, super rewarding, and encouraging maximum redemption. So to actually achieve that simplicity and the engagement and how rewarding it is, you’ve obviously done that through an investment in technology to enhance the customer experience.

So please share that the technology journey that you’ve taken to get to this relaunch. 

Lindsay: Yes. So there’s basically not any kind of idea that I’ve run across anyways, that there’s not technology that already exists that can support it. And so if you’ve got it on your roadmap, if you’re dreaming it up, if it’s an innovation that you wanna bring to market, there’s a partner that can make that happen.

And what I had observed in, in my time since I joined the restaurant vertical is that there were hard choices made during the pandemic to stand up, loyalty to stand up online ordering as quickly as possible. And there were a couple big players that cornered the market. But they didn’t, they didn’t have the, the customability, they didn’t have the innovation, they didn’t have the investment in the type of tech that’s been around supporting hospitality are supporting retail for a number of years. 

And so we’ve made a move to a partner called CrowdTwist, which is owned by Oracle and will integrate directly into our Oracle point of sale. And so with that integration then we’ve removed additional barriers to different additional breakage points, and been able to bring to life the kind of experience that we’ve just talked about is now the table stakes for any kind of digital engagement. Regardless of the particular brand I happened to be navigating to on my phone. 

Amanda: And did you have to go through a complex selection process or did they stand out immediately? 

Lindsay: We did. And I’ll tell you, we did it with good intention for now and for next. And so the kind of surprising tidbit for folks is sometimes that we have more restaurants outside of the US than we do inside of the US. And my counterpart who oversees our international market, always likes to joke that I’m responsible for the 50 United States, and she’s responsible for 55 entire countries.

And so we wanted to find a solution that would serve both and use the power and the scale of the US investment to bring markets that might not be able to individually fund their own loyalty build because of their particular market size. And so like our, our biggest champion is down in South America.

And previously had been told by several of the other providers that they didn’t have the scale, they couldn’t come online. And so the way that we identified the winning provider in our selection process was that we wanted someone that could stand up any size market around the world. 

And tap into the power of a best in class provider and pay the price on the scale of someone like the US and kind of bring both the best of both worlds to the guests wherever they dine around the entire world. That that perfect experience that we’re all seeking. 

Amanda: Absolutely. And it is a, it’s almost a borderless world that we live in now, isn’t it? 

Lindsay: It’s true. Yes.

Amanda: I mean, I grew up, I grew up with TGI Fridays, so from the UK so I’m, I’m very aware that they are outside of the us such a phenomenal brand globally. So that’s great to hear how you actually selected it based on that ability to reach into the furthest parts of the world of your network, and yet still have best in breed in the market, in every market.

I have heard you already talk very deeply around the role of the, you call them the servers, the team members, at the front end for the relaunch. So, we all know that if you have a phenomenal program in any industry, but it’s not delivered effectively by any person you interact with, that could all fall over. So clearly this was something that you are very focused on. Please share it with us. 

Lindsay: Yes, yes. And so my first few months in the role, we started to explore what a move would look like. I didn’t spend any time doing program comparison charts. I didn’t do a SWAT analysis. I wasn’t trying to research, you know, emerging tech opportunities or anything like that.

I went to the restaurants. And I said, tell me where you’re frustrated. Tell me why you don’t use this every time. Why are our participation rates not where we want them to be? And, and the answer was, I have to go back and forth to the point of sale four or five times. The guest has to use their own device to find codes that they have to sign in to access. The codes after 30 minutes can disappear and you have to refine them and re-sign in. 

And so if you’re a server on a busy night, the idea of introducing loyalty to a table has to feel like a nightmare. And it, based on some of what the servers were telling us, it probably was some nights because they told stories of having to sit down in the booth with the guest to try to find the guest Apple ID to download the app.

And, you know, get on the phone to call their son to get the password and all of that, just to be able to, to be rewarded for being a loyal guest. And so that’s where we had to start. And, and we took all of that feedback back and we said, we need a solution that is so easy. It’s almost impossible not to use it.

Amanda: It just, it feels though, as you said, that was your starting point, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Like everyone must start with the customer, but that’s a given, right? You’ve already talked through how it’s super engaging and rewarding and simple, but actually to start with your team members. And everything you’ve said has just made complete sense in terms of some of the frustration levels that I’ve experienced in restaurant loyalty programs.

Lindsay: Absolutely. 

Amanda: Incredible. I’m, I really believe that’ll be a point of differentiation if you get that right. And it sounds like the investment and the actual program design and the technology is focused on delivering that. So I really look forward to hearing about that in the future and seeing how it’s grown and grown and grown.

Okay. So if we walk, if we walk the journey a little bit further away from the practicalities of the relaunch, what are the key KPIs you are now tasked to achieve with Fridays Rewards? 

Lindsay: So it’s great to reward our guests. We want tremendous value recognized. We want you to have a story. You go home and tell, because the program was so great.

But the, the purpose of a loyalty program is really that relationship handshake for a guest to surrender their contact information to be in a marketing relationship with a particular brand. And so the, the main KPIs that we’re going after is growth and usage. And so we don’t want to have an artificial target of a particular number of members in the program that just kind of hang out as deadweight in some sequel table somewhere. 

We, we wanna grow our scale, so we wanna make it easy to use and easy to join, but then we wanna get folks in that purchase cycle faster and faster. So we drive up frequency and we drive down the time between their visits.

And we honestly believe that Fridays is a place that can be celebratory for big moments, for little moments, for whatever kind of life stage you’re in, whoever you are. We say we’re the, we’re for people of all stripes. And so trying to find those moments to fit into our guest lifecycle in a way that’s really relevant and rewarding for them.

The, the two have to come together to, to be effective in that, in that vein. And so if we are going after growth, but we can’t reengage you, or we’re just trying to get you to come in and we aren’t getting scale, we’re not gonna be able to do what we need to do from a business perspective from Fridays to get guests in that cycle more often driving revenue.

Amanda: Yeah, I know you’re finding the program, I mean, I know it’s early days, but is, is the differential between members and non-members, targeted to be vast or have you seen results coming through already? 

Lindsay: Initial yes, initially we are looking very positive. I’ll say that anything that’s new does have a little bit of kind of a learning curve. We’re hoping that we’re rounding that corner quickly. But we, but we feel very optimistic that this will be a significant driver for growing our customer base. 

Amanda: Because obviously in so many of the loyalty KPIs, there’s an element of self selection. You know, as you’ve just said, you know, the best customers will start, will start performing better, but over time you’ll be able to, measure that particularly of frequency levels of members versus non-members. 

Okay. So the, with that’s talking a little bit around the KPIs that serve your sort of, you know, your team’s to-do list. But what about, I’m always passionately interested in, so what else does that data, rather than just critically give you KPI results or levels of personalization that the customer experiences?

What is the deeper use, the sort of customer centric use of the data that you can now gather through the program? 

Lindsay: What will help us so much is that we have data on our guest set, but right now it’s so small it doesn’t represent all of those people of all stripes like we talked about. And so the, the more that we can get to know our guests, then the better foundation we have to build our, our marketing plans to build our menu, to build in where we need to have valued, better supported.

And so having those guest insights at a, at a kind of minimum sized audience to be reliable, then we’ll be able to take those findings and apply them globally. And so just right now our challenge is we have these great insights. They’re just limited to such a small set of our audience. It’s not something we can use really to drive corporate level change until we can get that bigger sample size.

Amanda: Yeah, so we obviously, very often on the Let’s Talk Loyalty show, we talk, we talk, we hear about sort of retail, customer-centric retailing and so on. But here I’m now I’m hearing corporate level change based on the data and menu planning, which is real practical operational changes. 

And, I remember you discussing briefly something around food innovation coming out of the insights. So, for me, that’s particularly exciting that you, you can make such a dramatic change, positive, dramatic change for the business over and above a fantastic loyalty program and over and above the servers feeling excited and energized to offer your loyalty program. So please do in the future when we come back and chat to you, tell us more about that as well.

Lindsay: I will, I will. It’s, and it’s exciting to be able to bring those insights, actual, observable customer behavior insights to our executive team. We have relied heavily on surveying and customer feedback. And if there’s anything that I’ve learned in my time in customer marketing is what people say that they want and what people actually want are always exactly the same thing.

And so marrying the art and the science of our due diligence that we do with with research and customer provided statements with the actual observed, data points and how they behave, what they buy, how often they buy, what they add to their check can tell a, a much more complete story for our marketing efforts.

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. And what they say they will do versus what they actually do, is a real, is a real dilemma, a real, it’s not really a pain point, but a real, experience every loyalty manager actually has to work through. 

So, okay. So I’m actually going to talk now or ask you a question now about something that utterly amused me, but in a very positive way around you. You stated earlier that if you get 150 points, you can choose any entree of your choice, but you had a, an internal battle with your business over the most popular entree being sirloin. So tell us the secret or tell us the, the story around sirloin. 

Lindsay: Yes. So the previous program was designed to be highly financial, highly financially accountable, which they need to be.

I, I am an incredibly huge advocate for sound financial modeling, a very tight PNL  statement for the program. Alignment on discounting, alignment on point distribution, deferred revenue planning. I think that a partner in accounting is incredibly important to the success and longevity of the program.

But what we uncovered when we were trying to simplify redemption is if we wanted to make this dramatic statement like, all entrees are available for the 150 point category. That meant that there are gonna be some items that are gonna come in at a little bit higher cost that we’re making some of the internal teams a little bit nervous.

So we did some research with the existing data that we have, and we have a tool that we use through a company called Data Delivers that gives us menu level insights. So that we can make better informed decisions, and what it models for us is that guests that buy a particular item, their likelihood to return.

And so it looks 12 months into the future. And if I bought this particular item, how likely was it that I was going to come back? So we used that tool and we, we took a look at some of the higher cost items, one of them being the sirloin steak. And it had a, I think it was like a 78% likelihood to return rate and something like our average item would be in the forties. And so I had nearly a two X likelihood to return if a guest got to enjoy a sirloin. 

And if we’re talking about like retention marketing and frequency marketing, if I’ve got a menu item that’s gonna do that much work for me, why would I not want my best guest to enjoy that so that I have another push towards that next visit in my, in my back pocket already. 

Amanda: That is such an incredible stat that I’m sure everyone listening to this will hang on and use in their boardroom discussions with the financial modeling team because you’re absolutely right. This comes up time and time again over obviously cost or other, other angles of the commercials.

But the actual customer behavior that you can track like that being almost twice as likely to return versus any other product is gold dust. Thank you, Lindsay, for sharing that. It’s gold dust. 

Lindsay: We just have to remember what we’re going after, if we’re going after frequency, that, I mean, that’s a easy answer if we keep the, the main thing, the main thing. 

Amanda: Yeah. Beautiful. I love it. so. Yeah, we’ve started to talk, we’ve pushed into the discussion now about internal communications. You know, how do you get decisions made or business cases approved and the customer value proposition approved internally in TGI Fridays? So let’s ask the question as directly as I can.

I mean, how seriously does TGI Fridays take loyalty? 

Lindsay: I, I would say it’s both rewarding and daunting, because the company each year will publish a list of priority projects. And number one project priority wise for the Friday’s organization is the relaunch of this rewards program. And so having that responsibility is an honor, and I take it incredibly personally and seriously and can’t do it in a vacuum. 

And so to say, as a company, this is our priority. It means the operators, this is our priority. It means to the tech team, this is our priority to our guest relations team. This is our priority, and that alignment and that commitment is the only thing that can bring a project like this to life successfully. 

And so I would just say hats off to the entire cross-functional Fridays team because there are other places that I’ve observed in other places that I’ve worked where the loyalty team is, is rowing hard one direction, but it’s all upstream. And part of the Fridays’ philosophy is that we are all in one boat. We are all rowing together, and the leader of the boat is calling the shots so that every stroke we take has maximum output. 

Amanda: That’s incredible. It sounds like great change. Well, I say great change managements. It doesn’t sound like a massive amount of change management is needed because of the leadership and the direction you’re being given.

Lindsay: I think having early alignment from the operators is so undervalued and having the privilege to start there in the restaurants alongside the teams and build from there has has made, like you were suggesting, something like change management in my past. 

You know, almost a non-event. Everybody’s there to help. Everybody’s asking, what can we do better? How can I help support this more? Instead of, nah, I don’t know if I agree with this. We’ll see if we get behind this. We’ll talk about it again in a quarter. It’s been commitment and buy-in from day one. 

Amanda: And as you say, when you started, announcing that it’s the number one organizational priority, I felt the pressure of how daunting that must be. But as you say, incredibly exciting. So, yeah, lucky, lucky you. But also, there must be moments, there must be moments when you thank goodness.

Lindsay: I’m not disappointed that it’s done in the past. 

Amanda: Yeah. But I guess the real work starts now with, with your team. So, that is actually gonna be my last question around your team.

You said earlier on that you have a real small team of two or three people. Just talk to us about your team structure to roll out such a massive, massively impactful program. 

Lindsay: We are, we are a small and mighty team, so my team is responsible for loyalty and CRM data, all of our outbound media channels, online, streaming television, audio, social media, and we are a mighty, mighty team of three.

But I will tell you that having the right team members overcome almost any headcount shortage. And I’ve got folks that are creative and that are problem solvers and that are accountable. And so I would just say that if you find yourself under-resourced, like many of us usually are. Take the time to find the right fit and the right talent because this three I would take over an army any day.

Amanda: Lindsay, you are speaking in words of nectar. I love it. Honestly, I’m loving how you’re talking this through. So, just before I ask if you have one, anything else you wanna add? I don’t have any other formal questions other than. What I’ve taken from just talking to you now is the program itself is simple, right?

You’ve said it’s simple, it’s engaging, it’s rewarding, but it’s simple. It’s, the structure is simple deliberately. It’s not, it’s not sort of smashing any, complexities out of the park. You’re just saying it, it’s works like this. We haven’t tried to do anything too complex. 

But actually this interview for me is all about the lessons all of us can learn around the importance of leadership, the importance of a small but mighty team of three of you with different strengths.

The importance of starting at the frontline instead of just focusing on the customer. Cause everyone I will always should focus on the customer, but actually starting with the frontline. And also the importance of the process to choose the right tech that can partner with you globally and for the long term.

And I think that’s what Let’s Talk Loyalty is all about. It’s not necessarily about learning about the structure of your program, cause we can find that on the internet, it’s more around. What can we all learn from it? And I, I just want to, even before we end the interview, thank you for being so generous on these softer skills that are often so missed and yet are so critical to the success of any, any rollout, especially loyalty, cause it’s, it is normally very complex and often the things you’ve highlighted are the things that don’t get invested in. And look at, look at your business and how you and your broader businesses invested in this. 

So, on that point, have you got anything else you’d like to share with us?

Lindsay: I would just say like the, the foundation is laid, like to do your work well, to do it simply to have buy-in is great, but you can’t stay there. That’s your springboard. And so building towards the future, you know, do I think that we’re gonna do something like we were talking about in JCPenney and go all the way back to the Soft Benefit Committee?

No. But is experiential rewards become also part of the value equation there? There’s tons of opportunity to grow and sort of once we get this baseline established, all we have in front of us then is green space. And so I’m really excited for what the balance of 2023 will hold. 

So we’re tapping into growth. We’re tapping into frequency, check, check, check, but we’ve removed the hard stuff that always needs the troubleshooting and is always the distraction and comes with the, the naysayers in the field. We’ve removed all that so we can grow and build upon the starting point, you know, that we, we celebrate and then we, you know, quickly pick ourselves back up and we move on to the next because it’s always growing.

Customer experience is always changing and the, you know, the target always moves. So now we have the foundation to do that efficiently and to do it well. 

Amanda: Absolutely, you really do. And I, I will encourage Paula and the team to make sure we talk to you in a year’s time when you can show us how it’s all paid off.

So Lindsay, thank you so much, for sharing the launch of Fridays Rewards and obviously it’s new days and lots of work still ahead for you. Lindsay Eichten from TGI Fridays. Thank you very, very much. This has been super insightful and I’ve loved talking to you. 

Lindsay: Thank you very much. We wish everybody all the best.

Paula: This show is brought to you by the Australian Loyalty Association, the leading organization for loyalty professionals in Asia Pacific. Visit their news and content hub for the latest loyalty insights from around the world. Or why not submit your own article for publication? For more information on their loyalty services and networking opportunities visit australianloyaltyassociation.com.

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