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Get Ready to Sense the CEM Future

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The Internet of Things is bringing all new possibilities to retail and customer experience management. Sensor installation in stores and on newer smartphones communicates steady streams of rich information from customer to retailer and vice versa. This trend is growing very quickly. As reported in TechCrunch recently: Apple projects 250 million of their iBeacon devices in the world by the end of 2014. Others will certainly get into the game.

Not as New as You’d Think

This story is even bigger than those 250 million purpose-built devices just now coming into the market:

“…every iOS device since the iPhone 4s and iPad 3rd gen is already capable of being either an iBeacon receiver or transmitter, as long as it’s properly configured.”

This will have enormous implications for the retail marketplace. The amount of data collected up until now has been limited mostly to very rough geolocation technology that doesn’t work well indoors.

Relevance Like Never Before

Suddenly, we have access to far more granular data on where and when customers move, and what catches their attention. We know with high accuracy when to deliver just the right message, having just the right context, and through the ideal channel. This is the marketer’s dream, but only if their tools and techniques can keep up with the opportunity this presents.

A New Way to Look at Loyalty

This also presents a remarkable opportunity for a loyalty platform. The permissioning that loyalty offers means that customer interactions are welcome, and even more relevant based on loyalty tiers and better segmentation data.

This will be a fascinating trend to watch as retailers retool to take full advantage of new levels of customer interaction.

To learn more, catch TIBCO Loyalty Lab’s webinar, Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.

To Supply and Demand, Add Context and Timing

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

We’ve spent most of our lives hearing about the law of supply and demand. Brands create supply through manufacturing and the building out of service capabilities. Through marketing, quality, and some amount of skill and good fortune, our customers demand our products. Can this well-tested, age-old law survive our times? Yes, but only if it adds two more components: context and timing.

A real-time marketing system does exactly that. The new supply chain is about more than goods and transactions—it is also about relevant marketing that takes into account the subtleties of what’s happening in the customer’s world.

Thanks to fundamental shifts in technology, the new laws look something like this:

Supply – What is my current inventory level? What inventory is stressed because of low sell-through or seasonality? Where are my services overstaffed? From where can I fulfill an order that makes the most sense cost- and timing-wise? Where should I stage my inventory for most efficient sell-through?

Demand – What are my hottest items that shouldn’t be discounted? What is the market talking about, and where can I join the conversation? What can I do to better capture the interest of my customer as both an individual and a refined segment of all of my customers?

Context – What are my customer’s buying patterns: When do they shop, how do they shop, and where do they make their buying decisions? What do their patterns reveal about what they’re most likely to buy next? Where is my customer at this moment? What are the ambient circumstances, like weather, seasonality, location (in store, near store, on web or mobile) that help answer the question, “Customer, what’s going on in your world, right now?”

Timing – When is my customer most likely to be receptive to communication? Do I understand their preferences, including means of communication and timing? Can I reach my customer at the right moment with the most relevant information? Real-time must be right-time marketing.

For marketers who were previously disconnected from the supply chain world, the new laws represent an opportunity to play a much bigger role in moving the brand’s needle. The new world of retail is far more mobile, far more contextual, and far more personal, making it a much more dynamic environment for doing business.


Going to Loyalty World US? Here Are 5 Las Vegas Shows with Loyal Followings for You to Attend

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Loyalty World US is coming to Las Vegas.

And if you’re planning to attend Loyalty World US October 28th and 29th, you will no doubt want to get out and experience all the city has to offer.

But with so many options, what’s a marketer to do?

Sticking with the loyalty theme (of course), here are five Las Vegas shows with some of the largest and most loyal followings.

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s “O” is made for Vegas. You’ve got your world-class acrobats, your synchronized swimmers, your divers, and your characters performing in, on, and above water to create a breathtaking experience.

It’s an aquatic blend of artistry, surrealism and theatrical romance in a timeless production. The show is inspired by the concept of infinity, which matches the line of thinking you’ll have when heading back to the office, filled with new ideas from Loyalty World US.

Le Reve

Le Reve takes its name from a 1932 Picasso painting hotel mogul Steve Wynn displays in his private collection. It’s a true journey of the subconscious mind with an intense blast of rain, fire and action at the outset.

Eighty-seven performers from 17 countries tell the story using a blend of aerial acrobatics, water ballet, synchronized swimming, comedy, and amazing feats of athleticism. You’ll see performers entering and leaving the stage through air and water. The stage even rises and falls with the water during the show, enabling an 87-foot high dive.

Blue Man Group

Visually stunning, wildly entertaining, hysterically funny – these are the words that have been used to describe Blue Man Group’s critically acclaimed show. Even though it’s difficult to explain exactly what it is you’ll be seeing, audiences of all ages agree that Blue Man Group’s show is an exciting and outrageous experience that will leave you in a euphoric state of bliss.

If you want to learn how to create a loyal following without using a single word while at Loyalty World US, Blue Man Group is the only “seminar” that can show you how.

Jersey Boys

You remember Robin Leach, right? He’s the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous guy. Anyway, here’s what he says about Jersey Boys:

“The production, which is brilliantly staged with genius execution, rockets along at jet-smooth speed and one moment you’re laughing and the next tears well up.”

Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2006, takes you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. You get to ride along with the band – up the charts and across the country.

Donnie and Marie

Donny Osmond is no stranger to Vegas. His first gig was performing with his brothers at the Sahara hotel at the age of 7.

The “Donny & Marie” show features excellent audience participation, and it’s funny and exhilarating. If you remember the Osmonds from your youth, this show will take you back to a special time in your life. If not, then this is your chance to connect with two of the best performers on the strip who still have what it takes to connect with the audience.

And that’s what it’s all about, connecting with your audience. We hope to connect with you at Loyalty World US in Las Vegas later this month. Register now for a 1:1 consultation with one of our loyalty experts, and request an invite to our cocktail reception at YellowTail Japanese Restaurant in the Bellagio on 10/28!

Unwanted Adventures in Poor Customer Loyalty

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Recently, I had a great bad experience in brand social media use. It was great as a timely reminder of the danger of impersonal customer engagement, especially for someone who works in customer loyalty. It was bad because that lesson came at the expense of hours wasted at the airport.

customer loyalty - empty baggage claim carousal

The Impersonal Customer Loyalty Story

My husband and I flew back from overseas and waited with a large crowd for nearly an hour and half for the first pieces of luggage to appear.

While waiting, I tweeted to the airline:

“@XXXXX, passengers have waited over an hour for their bags.”

Within a minute, the airline tweeted back:

“This is not what we like to hear. Thanks for all of your patience.”

We then found ourselves among the unlucky few to be standing at the baggage carousel when the belt stopped moving.  (Anyone who’s been in this situation knows that’s the time to hurry to the airline office to start filling out forms.)

When the bags didn’t show, I tweeted:

“@XXXXX, waited for nearly two hours and bags never arrived.”

Again, within a minute, a reply came:

“We’re sorry that your bags didn’t arrive to you. We hope you’re reunited soon. We’re here if you need us.”

Where Was Customer Loyalty Management in This?

What the airline didn’t know was the most important piece of customer service: They didn’t know my status, my purchasing patterns, and, most telling, they didn’t even ask which flight I was on. That made their responses impersonal and didn’t strengthen our relationship in any way. They missed an excellent opportunity to serve my needs with more than, “We’re here if you need us.” (Hint: I needed you…)

It could be that, like many brands, their social media presence is primarily a defense for negative comments and not a way to engage. They can do so much better than that to create more effective customer loyalty.

Savvy Customers

Having an impersonal experience with a brand can be worse than having no interaction at all, especially when the experience comes across as automated and/or stiff. Customers are savvy when it comes to spotting manipulation and very unforgiving as well.

Making the experience more personal, which would have been as easy as asking a question, determining my customer loyalty status, and offering a call or follow up, would have gone an enormous distance in how I saw the situation. Ultimately, it would save work for the airline in following up to service complaints and increase revenue by earning my trust.

But let’s be fair—I doubt the airline had a customer loyalty system in place that could have made their response any better than it was. Without a way to engage customers across the channels of their choice, including Twitter, companies are blind to the sentiments of their biggest spending customers. They are, at best, a simple points-and-card program that serves its customers in transactional ways rather than emotionally.

Customer loyalty management requires a holistic view of the customer characteristics, their preferred channels of communication, and the context of each interaction. Putting this together in pieces is expensive and risky, and unnecessary when you have loyalty platforms that can blend historical interaction with what’s happening in the moment. Learn more in this webinar and whitepaper.

Are you ready to personally serve your customers?

Know It in Real Time, Respond at the Right Time

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Learn more on right-time vs. real-time marketing in this webinar and whitepaper

The customer loyalty marketing industry is under enormous pressure to react to changing customer preferences and behaviors and the speed at which data about both is accumulating. It’s becoming a customer-driven world, making that data ever more important to follow and understand. Customers shop whenever and wherever using Web, mobile and brick and mortar, and this inevitably leads to a conversation about “real-time” marketing data and response.

real time marketing clocks

It’s hard to talk about real time marketing without getting into a debate about what real time marketing really means. Even more, there’s a strong sentiment among software types and their customers that real time marketing isn’t necessarily the only timing that matters.

A Simple Definition

Let’s make it simple then, and say that real time marketing is about knowing what happens—as it happens—and the most appropriate time to respond to customers is best called “right time.” That’s not to say that right time isn’t sometimes real time. It just isn’t necessarily real time.

So if real time isn’t always right time, what decides what right time should be?

Right Time is About Context

Marketers shouldn’t act on every impulse to communicate with the customer, no matter how much speed might seem to be an advantage. Instead, the time for response needs to be decided by the context of the customer’s interaction with the brand. Responding too quickly can be creepy and feel like stalking, and making offers at times that aren’t convenient for the customer can create frustration. Context decides when the value of the interaction is high and aligned with both the customer and the brand’s goals.

Real Time Marketing Has Its Value

Context can also mean that real time is the best time, like when providing customer service, interacting via social media, engaged in gamification, or when a customer is about to cancel the relationship. These are the moments when having the tools to respond in real time increases relationship and provides revenue lift.

The best marketers have the information they need when they need it, be it real time or otherwise, and are able to determine the context that decides the best time for a response.

Transactional Loyalty Programs Breed Transactional Members

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Let’s face it: The vast majority of today’s customer loyalty programs involve earning points through purchases in what can best be called transactional rewards. From a member perspective, these loyalty programs are undifferentiated and become just a kaleidoscope of plastic cards which offer similar savings or other rewards.

These loyalty programs persist because they are simple and generally effective for driving revenue. But there’s a problem: the highly transactional, commodity-driven behavior this breeds in loyalty program members. Without the reward, customers will quickly go elsewhere, making the program only as strong as the investment the brand continues to pour into it. There’s nothing self-sustaining about it.

Genuine connection

If we want customers to be genuinely connected with our brand, we need to move them beyond a point where they are “coin operated,” and instead to a place where they feel invested in the brand and its success. Invested customers are champions, spreading the word “for free” as advocates and having a far higher lifetime value for a brand (learn more in this webinar on the new customer loyalty management).

If transactional behavior isn’t enough of a challenge, the rapid adoption of consumer mobile and social media leaves brands with the need for new ways to reach loyalty program members at the right place and time. Getting to a place where the consumer’s context is known and actionable means having the technical infrastructure to sense and respond to dynamic situations. Most companies aren’t used to such a loyalty program, but they can implement them similarly to TIBCO’s newest program, Turning Customers Into Fans.

The North Face gets it

It’s unreasonable to expect less than real engagement, so what is your company doing to move beyond transactional loyalty programs? Brands are starting to discover ways to engage deeper than the transaction and to create loyalty that isn’t based on constant incentives. Take The North Face for example, where their VIPeak Rewards program offers PeakPoints for participating in local sports events. By rewarding participation in a healthy lifestyle, The North Face has a symbiotic relationship with their customers, which goes far beyond purchase tallying.

The same opportunity is available to any brand that makes the decision to go beyond transactional loyalty programs. Without it, you’re more than likely reinforcing the wrong behavior in your customers and not getting the loyalty you desire.

Real-Time Marketing or Right-Time Marketing?

by Ted Rubin

Webinar 7/18 – sign up now! Right-Time Marketing vs Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is all the rage, though as TIBCO Loyalty Lab’s David Rosen is quick to point out, brands really need to be focused on right-time marketing. “The speed and reaction of marketing needs to be relevant when the consumer is discovering, shopping or sharing,” he said.

Brands need to act with relevance and timeliness without crossing over into creepiness, Rosen warned. “You need to have customers’ permission to collect data and contact them in the time of decision-making. When that relationship is within a loyalty program, it’s far less creepy,” he explained. I agree because when the relationship exists, and it is documented via membership, the consumer feels a connection that otherwise may not exist.

Loyalty and rewards may be the first thing to get right first, he suggests, noting that “…it creates the permission-based relationship between a brand and its consumers.” There’s a value exchange there, he explained; customers have consented and contributed to the brand-consumer relationship. This is a great point because in many ways it makes it easier for the marketer than initially spending time on relationship building without a guarantee the C-suite often requires to fund relationship building.

The collection and analysis of the data available in a loyalty relationship allows marketers an edge in real-time marketing, with greater insight into which messages or offers are most likely to influence a customer in that critical moment. But keep in mind… data and analytics can’t replace judgment. Along with data, be sure to let judgement, learning, inspiration be your guides, not simply numbers.

Simple, Compelling Offers for the Win

The future of offers and real-time marketing is simplicity, according to Rosen. “The best rewards program is simple enough that any employee can describe it. It’s compelling enough that people will naturally want to sign up,” he said, noting that Sports Authority is a perfect example. They offer 5% back on all purchases, an offer everyone can comprehend and appreciate. It’s simple to use and doesn’t require that the customer understand a complex spend and earn program. I find this so incredibly important… ease of use and participation is key!

“If you can achieve high rates for enrollment and out of the gate, you’ll get immediate attention from senior management. If management doesn’t care, you don’t get buy-in and won’t have their support and budget to effectively run your program,” Rosen warned. Simple, compelling offers appeal to customers and can win the support of internal decision-makers.

Marketers are realizing the potential of next generation marketing tactics and tools, such as game mechanics, to essentially stimulate activity, add an element of fun, and change people’s behaviors in different ways. Game elements also help to cement the relationship by keep people involved and engaged.

“In this realm, you’ll see offers like group rewards, where consumers enter as a group to win prizes,” Rosen explained. “Retailers can link a number of behaviors and get consumers to accomplish certain tasks, ie: wearing a certain product and having a picture taken and posted to Instagram.”

Communication = Relationship Management

Better communication with loyalty program members means much more than simply delivering the content they want in a format they prefer. Brands needs to use the information gleaned from the program and other data available to them—through the website, email marketing, social channels and in-store—in order to effectively manage their customer relationships. When your customers are engaging via loyalty initiatives you have the opportunity to interact and engage them on a more personal level.

Are your customers shopping online, making returns, opening or responding to emails, or taking other actions from which you can draw insight?

Customers have come to expect that brands will deliver messages and offers relevant to their needs. This is the power of real-time marketing—the ability to act almost instantly on customer insights. Easing communication means understanding the needs of each customer and communicating the right message to them, at the right time.

It’s so important to keep in mind that right-time marketing means making a connection that goes beyond simply time and place, but takes it a step further and builds the connection… and therefore the relationship. Consumers desperately want to feel heard, connected, and valued, so remember to take it beyond the simple offer to engage and build Return on Relationship.


Information has exploded, between the type of information we keep stored in databases —such as past purchasing behavior or past flight behavior—and the types of insights gleaned from activities happening in real time. “Customer loyalty marketing is not really marketing to people in real time, but using events, happenings, behaviors that are happening in real-time in order to very quickly make decisions about what to do next,” Rosen explained.

Analytics are critical for taking these masses of real-time and stored (historical) data and identifying patterns, in order to determine what to do next.

“The other piece of analytics that is incredibly compelling is that it gives the creative marketer the ability to be more creative,” Rosen explained. “You don’t have to get it right. You just need to have a great idea that it testable. If you have a great idea, you can make a moderate investment and put it in front of a limited amount of consumers and test that; you can measure the impact it had on people.” Great analytics takes away the risk of failure, he noted. Again I will add that analytics can only get you so far, it is easy to interpret data to mean what you are looking to hear, so be sure to let judgement reign.

Powerful reporting helps communicate the value of the program across the organization, not just to senior management, but across other teams, logistics partners, creative partners, etc. Dashboards, reporting and success metrics have become incredibly powerful and are critical for customer loyalty management.

Rosen’s recommendations are designed to help marketers move beyond the traditional loyalty program/offers model, to a relationship-based, mutually rewarding customer loyalty marketing solution. So use the all-important data, but remember the value in the data is in deepening the relationship connection.

“The whole idea is, don’t overcomplicate things,” Rosen advised. “Create a simple program with a compelling hook—this will become your canvas for testing and refining these other amazing things. That doesn’t mean it’s so vanilla people won’t sign up. But once you have that permission-based relationship with your customers, you can really do anything if you’re a good marketer.”

How effective is your brand at real-time marketing, using current and historical insights to influence purchasing behavior at the right time, in the proper channel, and building true relationships at the same time? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Hear more from David on right-time marketing and reimagining loyalty in the webinar, Customer Loyalty Management: Marrying the Art & Science of Loyalty.

Read more by Ted on his blog, and follow him @tedrubin and @R_onR.

Finding the Holy Grail of Marketing

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The remarkable amount of change in the consumer world is ushering in a new definition of loyalty. What have long been static programs of points and plastic cards are becoming dynamic, individualized and much, much more engaging.

The old way of simple ledgers and confusing redemption schemes was a fundamentally flawed proposition. Customers were able to accumulate points but struggled to keep track of and gain real value in return. Something had to change.

Enter Customer Loyalty Management

Customer Loyalty Management is the new, holistic approach to driving higher levels of loyalty to brands. It puts a focus on what have emerged as the four ‘pillars’ of loyalty:

  • Loyalty programs
  • Wider event streams
  • Marketer-driven relationship marketing
  • Test & learn

Each of these four is key to finding the ‘Holy Grail’ of marketing: creating ‘fans’—people who think of a brand first and represent a much higher lifetime value. But today’s technology combines social, mobile and analytics to create new ways to drive another layer atop the four pillars, including higher trust, greater insight and relevance, and recognition leading to virtuous cycles of increasing value.

These are lofty goals that would be impossible without the new approach in technology and strategy offered by Customer Loyalty Management.

Aligning the Tools and Techniques

As consumers’ buying patterns change, the tools and techniques of loyalty need to change alongside them. There are four specific areas where the tools and techniques align with the four pillars and matter the most for the new Customer Loyalty Management:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • In-store
  • On-line

Each of these areas is impacted by those changing buying patterns, and there’s an opportunity for brands to avoid disruption and benefit from the shift. These points of personal and digital engagement are the new realities of letting consumers engage in ways that increase their experience and create true fans.

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Sense and Respond: Event-Driven Marketing

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The concept of “sense and respond” has been around for years, but it’s a relatively new concept for marketers. Times are changing very rapidly, and the rise of mobile, social and far faster cache memory applications gives the field a whole new way to interact with customers. It is an ability to sense the environment and respond immediately.

This isn’t the kind of interaction that a call center handles, or the idea of ‘touch point management’. From a process perspective, sense & respond gets much closer to the customer than ever before.

From a technology perspective, it means being able to move the marketing function out of a database-centric world and into a real-time, location-aware, flow-based marketing opportunity.

This new world is both context aware and cross channel at the same time. It differs from traditional marketing, even its most recent developments, by focusing on interaction optimization more than just the nuts and bolts of interaction.

Operational real-time

Most companies, including startups, lack the ability to assemble and respond to context fast enough to change customer behavior.  Unfortunately, real-time too often means gaining important information in the moment but doesn’t go the extra distance to meeting the customer in the moment.

What’s more, many of the systems implemented in the last three to four years are already outdated in their approach. They are not operationally real-time.

Truly operational, real-time sense and respond takes interaction to in-location, in-store or even in-basket levels of timing. It means having innovative analysis of what to expect and sensing a combination of factors in the moments they occur.

More of the same

If we stop for a minute to consider how much has changed in the recent past, we can easily assume that the change will continue and the opportunity for greater context and interaction in real-time is only going to grow. Likewise, customer expectations will shift to a demand for rewards in real-time – wherever they are and for whatever they’re doing.

Anyone who isn’t taking advantage of sense and respond will see their competition pulling away in the very near future.  Time to get started.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our webinar on 2/12, Event-Driven Marketing: Success with Real-Time Omni-Channel Engagement.

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Getting Real About Real-Time Marketing

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Real-time marketing means something a little different to everyone. The term is too-often used to describe getting information on what happened up to the moment, a rolling report of the history of something – like customer purchases, staffing costs or inventory levels. It’s like asking what time it is. There’s only an accurate answer for that one-dimensional question at one moment, then time moves on.

Real-time marketing clock

But what if real-time can mean something much different? In the event-driven marketing realm, it does. We’re going through a transformation of the meaning of real-time marketing driven by the increasing ability to know what’s happening simultaneously across a customer – their history, their location, our location, inventory, pricing, and more.

Hoping the needles move

Real-time marketing’s new definition is about being able to anticipate the scenarios that move a customer to make a purchase, taking advantage of distributed inventory, rescuing an abandoned shopping cart and driving business to the web and store. It isn’t a dashboard to watch and hope the needles move. It is a way to anticipate and act in the actual moments that matter the most.

There’s a historical component to this kind of real-time marketing, but it’s part of the context, not the answer.

But redefining real-time marketing isn’t enough. It has to be backed by event-driven marketing that connects all of those dots and provides a measurable advantage over the competition.

To learn more, download a copy of our whitepaper, “The New Event-Driven Marketing“.

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