Utilizing Mobile Apps for Customer Loyalty

Can mobile apps save customer loyalty programs? An article in Customer Relationship Management magazine posed this question back in their May issue. Consolidation is key, as most consumers don't have the wallet space for a stack of loyalty cards. That, and without constant use, they're usually out of sight and out of mind. Using mobile applications, consumers could use their smartphone as a one-stop device for accessing their loyalty programs.

Several retailers have already successfully implemented mobile loyalty apps. That comes as no surprise. With the rise of smartphone popularity, a push for simplicity and a decline in reward card usage, it's no wonder retailers are altering their loyalty programs.

Take a look at Starbucks. This year, they rolled out a mobile app that allows customers to link a credit card and pay with their phone. With the app, you can access your Starbucks Card balance directly from your phone. And, you can reload your Starbucks Card using any major credit card. The app provides you with a unique barcode that links directly to your gift card. To pay, the cashier simply scans the barcode on your phone and your amount is deducted from your balance. In addition, the app provides a built-in loyalty program. With each purchase, you earn stars. And - you guessed it - the more stars you earn, the bigger your perks. With five stars, you reach "Green Level" and will enjoy such perks as free select flavored syrups, free soymilk and a free tall beverage with each pound of coffee, among others. After you collect 30 stars, you earn "Gold Status" for one year and are treated with a free drink for every 15 stars you accumulate, a personalized gold card and personalized offers, among others.

There are several other examples out there of mobile applications enhancing customer loyalty. Foursquare is most used for checking in to venues and letting friends know your where-abouts. But, retailers are using it as a way to earn loyalty by rewarding check-ins with discounts, freebies and incentives to become the mayor.

What other companies or start-ups are utilizing mobile apps for customer loyalty? Do you think it's a good idea? Do you see it gaining popularity in the future? Sound off in the comments section.

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An Industry First: Purchasing Facebook Ads with Rewards Points

I ran across an article on Colloquy's website the other day that immediately captured my attention. It announced that American Express Cardmembers were now able to purchase Facebook Ads with Membership Rewards points. This is an industry first. Never before has a program allowed rewards points to be used for advertising purposes.

An excellent idea for small business owners, the new partnership allows Cardmembers to pay for Facebook Ads with Membership Rewards points in an effort to build their business through the rapidly growing area of social advertising.

"The Membership Rewards program is a unique and core asset for American Express that is becoming even more relevant for our Cardmembers in the social media space," says Ed Gilligan, Vice Chairman at American Express.

This is a perfect example of how incentives have expanded in recent years. Whether you're vying for employee or customer loyalty, the message is the same: Those with an influence on your business are motivated through incentives and rewards.

Here at Hinda, we've seen the ways in which incentives have grown and improved over the years. Digital awards are rising, as well as experimental rewards. What are some other innovative ways you can use rewards points? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Fastest Ways to Lose Customers

It's common knowledge that in order to remain profitable and popular, companies need to put their customers first. The same concept can (and should) be applied toward employees. Companies need to treat their employees as if they're customers. Loyal employees are just as important to the future of the business as loyal customers are.

I found this infographic on Get Satisfaction's blog. In business to build customer communities for companies, they happen to know a thing or two about customer loyalty. Looking at this infographic, a lot of the information can be related to employees. For example, the number one reason why customers leave a company is due to the treatment they received. I believe the same can be said for why employees leave a company.

What do you all think? Should companies treat their employees like customers? What other ways can companies lose employees?


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