05Mar

How expert client services results in genuinely happy clients and successful B2B loyalty programmes

Could you describe your role as the Client Services Director at Stream Loyalty? What does a typical day at work look like for you? 

No two days are the same in my working week. Nevertheless, there is certainly structure to what typically unfolds. Every day starts with a team scrum or two, either just with my team or I jump on with the development team too.  

It's a busy start to the week as we set the tone for the days ahead, dedicating Mondays to business strategy, sales, and marketing. The day is chock-full of meetings where we discuss our strategic direction, sales goals, and marketing initiatives.  

Tuesdays are all about focusing on the team. We are often ‘solutionising’ (it should be a word!); brainstorming and finding solutions to challenges faced by our clients or indeed internal challenges. It's a collaborative effort to come up with innovative solutions and make sure our clients' needs are met. 

The latter part of the week you can often find me deep in the world of Excel templates, crunching data for analysis, or crafting documentation to support our clients as they navigate their onboarding journeys. I may also be working on creating articles and content for our marketing materials. It's a time for detailed work and ensuring our clients have the resources they need. 

In addition to these scheduled activities, I also squeeze in a few demo calls with potential clients, spend time preparing and presenting proposals, and providing support sessions to our client success team. Performance reporting is an ongoing task, focused either on the performance of our programmes or looking how we improve the efficiencies of our internal processes to ensure we're meeting our goals and those of our clients and making necessary adjustments. 

In summary, it is a dynamic blend of strategy, teamwork, analysis, documentation, marketing, and client interaction. It's a recipe for a bustling and productive week, where each day brings its own unique challenges and opportunities. 

How do you define success in your role, particularly in the context of client services? 

It’s about creating meaningful, long-lasting partnerships with clients based on trust and satisfaction. It is best defined as happy clients.  

I describe my role at Stream as ensuring we have genuinely happy clients. As with loyalty, it extends beyond transactional interactions, it is about building emotional connections, planting the seeds of trust from ground zero, cultivating open communication, active listening and a clear understanding of client objectives. We live and breathe loyalty, and we practise what we preach, outside of the obvious of ensuring programmes are considered assets by the business and delivering ROI, success is evident in our clients' words of appreciation, receipt of referrals, and their testimonials that, to date, have spoken volumes about the value we've added to their businesses. 

On more than several occasions, contacts who have moved on to pastures new and have reach out to us within a matter of weeks from starting their new role and instantly want us alongside them, in their marketing mix. That demonstrates the true strength of our relationship and the trust we build together, when moments like that happen, we’ve struck gold!  

What are the crucial elements of effective client relationship management in the B2B customer loyalty software sector? 

B2B loyalty is more complex than that of B2C, it goes beyond price, availability, and promotional offers. Personal relationships have such a crucial role in a customer's ongoing business with you.  

Creating a human connection is vital. Business decisions are not purely rational; emotional factors will often have an influence. Having a personality, creating an emotional connection and building a relationship beyond just the transactional, encourages the following elements: 

  • Trust – our clients need to have confidence that we, and our software, will deliver on what we say we will and meet their expectations.   

  • Effective communications – understanding clients' needs, their concerns and addressing feedback through nurturing open and honest communication allows us to better facilitate collaboration and provide the ability to ‘nip it in the bud’ before a niggle becomes a gripe.  

  • Adaptability and active listening – we all work best in different ways; it is vital that our team can adapt to our clients' needs and ensure that they are feel heard. Issues can arise and even when you don’t have the answer immediately, it is essential that the client feels they have been listened to, that we have a full understanding of the requirement or challenge so they are reassured that we will provide a solution and are committed to its resolution.   

  • Continuous improvement – actively demonstrating our continuous improvement to the software, ensuring that we are listening to client feedback, incorporating suggestions and proving we are aligned with evolving trends in the industry.  

What are some common challenges your clients encounter when implementing loyalty programmes? How has your team helped clients overcome those challenges? 

Data Dilemmas

One of the most common challenges our clients face is the complexities of data or the lack thereof. Data is the lifeline of a loyalty programme, data itself is a source of extensive insights and data knowledge, as it grows and develops, it aids in informing the strategic decisions of your programme. Too often there is no single source of data with differing data formats or there is no ongoing access at all. 

Our Solution:  

We guide clients in collecting, selecting, and structuring data, ensuring it becomes a strategic asset rather than a bewildering maze. Our useful guides and templates support in guiding clients through data import and making the most out of the data. The key is to understand the unique identifiers that will be used to identify members, link products to sales and link sales or products to members.  

Navigating KPIs

Another common challenge is setting relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Loyalty programmes are comprehensive, with B2B programmes holding an added layer of complexity and clients often struggle with defining the metrics that truly matter. Especially if a loyalty programme is a brand-new initiative for a business, clients can often find it challenging knowing where to start with KPIs.  

Our Solution: During our onboarding sessions, our dedicated loyalty specialists will guide clients in identifying the KPIs that align with their vision. Whether it's customer retention, revenue growth, or engagement rates, our helpful insights will help to guide you in curating KPIs, which are not just relevant but also measurable and achievable. 

How do you go about creating a customer loyalty strategy that aligns with a client's specific business objectives? 

It must begin with a thorough understanding of a client's unique challenges and goals – you cannot skip over this in a rush. We delve deep into the business landscape, identifying key areas where a loyalty programme can drive meaningful change. 

Rather than merely rewarding members for their existing behaviours (red siren moments!), we focus on pinpointing areas where behaviour change is necessary to address the client's challenges effectively. This may involve incentivising desired actions, such as increasing purchase frequency, expanding product usage, or promoting brand advocacy. One such example from recent conversations was the focus on the ever-growing cost of delivery, where delivery is currently offered free of charge to all B2B customers. Promoting more sustainable delivery options, for example grouping orders together, would see a direct impact on the delivery cost.   

Our approach is centred around crafting strategies that not only reward loyalty but also drive tangible outcomes aligned with the client's objectives. By aligning the loyalty programme with the client's broader business strategy, we ensure that every initiative contributes directly to their success. 

Could you guide us through the process of implementing a loyalty software solution for a new client? 

Every new client goes on an onboarding journey with us. It generally spans 8-12 weeks, depending on complexity, and is structured in a way that guides clients through the implementation phase to ensure a successful launch. Prior to the project officially getting started, I hold a ‘pathfinder’ session where we embark on a deep dive into the client's business operations. During this session, our primary goal is to understand our client inside and out, gaining an understanding of their business model, objectives, and challenges, and encouraging an open and candid discussion about their needs, goals, and aspirations. 

The pathfinder session is an opportunity for Stream to collect all the essential project information that will serve as the foundation for planning and configuring the LoyaltyStream® environment.                                  

Shortly after, the project team will meet with the client to hold a kick off meeting to set expectations and clarify the client's responsibilities.  

The format of the onboarding sessions varies based on the client's choice regarding additional support packages. When clients choose not to opt for support packages, our dedicated Stream project team designs these sessions as comprehensive training sessions. The aim is to empower clients with the knowledge and skills needed to confidently progress with the configuration process on their own. 

Conversely, when clients opt for support packages, our project team seizes these sessions as an opportunity to gather all the essential and pertinent information required for us to proceed with the configuration on their behalf. We then conduct an extensive training session covering the entire system prior to go-live, ensuring that the client's team is thoroughly prepared for the launch and beyond.  

First stop we dive deep into data. In a comprehensive data session, we meet with the client to discuss their data requirements, scope, and review necessary adjustments. Getting the data right is a crucial milestone to the success of the programme.  

With data in hand, we move on to the core configuration settings of the software. We discuss general configuration requirements and guide clients on importing data and setting up internal users.  

Next up is supporting in the crafting of the campaign, the core component of the loyalty programme. A dedicated session focused on discussing campaign requirements and demonstrating how to set them up.  

Creating a distinct programme identity and configuring communications are vital in the next session, we guide the client on setting up the look and feel of their loyalty portal and configuring communications.  

The next session is the one most people want to start with and get most excited by: rewards. What is it that your members are going to receive in exchange for their loyalty currency? Deciding the right rewards is critical. The reward session discusses the reward options available from which Stream can proceed to set up all reward offerings. 

As the pieces come together, we set up the client's reward store and conduct a training session for their ongoing project team to ensure they are well-versed in the system. 

During the implementation period, our well-structured process guides us from laying the groundwork to ensuring that the LoyaltyStream® software is ready for a successful launch. Each step is carefully executed and is enhanced by an extensive library of support documentation to ensure that the client is equipped with the knowledge and tools needed for a seamless loyalty programme implementation.  

Would you be able to share a success story where your team's efforts significantly enhanced a client’s ROI? 

Our team's efforts on the Showroom Rewards project significantly enhanced our client’s, The Bathroom Showroom, ROI through a strategic campaign aimed at re-engaging members and driving increased participation. The campaign implemented a 'Spin to Win' gamification feature to inject fun into online interactions while also encouraging increased logins and engagement. 

The results spoke volumes about the effectiveness of our approach. Over the two-month campaign period, there was a notable 23% increase in unique customer logins in the first month, followed by an additional 19% increase in the second month. This heightened engagement translated into a substantial 39% rise in page views across the site, indicating increased interaction and interest among customers. 

Importantly, the re-engagement efforts didn't just boost participation but also led to tangible business outcomes. Members who re-engaged with the platform contributed to a significant 21% uplift in qualifying sales revenue. Additionally, there was a noteworthy 25% increase in reward redemptions compared to the previous month, reinforcing the positive relationship between The Bathroom Showroom and installers by rewarding them for their purchases. 

Ultimately, the success of the campaign was underscored by two key measurements: the month-on-month increased engagement in terms of unique customer logins and logins per customer, as well as the impressive ROI of 115% achieved within the two-month campaign period.  

How do you lead and motivate your client services team to ensure they deliver a first-class experience? 

To lead the team, I foster an environment of independence and open communication. I firmly believe in the power of asking questions and sharing ideas, which encourages creativity and innovation within the team. 

We hold Client Services Team meetings every six weeks, where team members discuss any challenges clients may be facing, celebrate successes, and analyse key trends in data sets. These meetings provide a platform for the team to understand the nuances of client experiences and collaboratively brainstorm solutions. 

Furthermore, we actively encourage team members to contribute ideas for process improvements, new functionalities for our product, or exploration of new technologies. By empowering our team to contribute to the evolution of our services, we foster a sense of ownership and pride in their work. 

Any feedback received from clients is celebrated collectively as a team, both within our daily team scrums and across the wider business. Recognising and appreciating client feedback reinforces the importance of delivering exceptional service and motivates the team to continually strive for excellence in every interaction. 

What qualities do you believe are essential for someone working in client services within the loyalty sector? 

Firstly, strong interpersonal skills are paramount. This involves the ability to build and maintain excellent relationships with clients, demonstrating active listening skills and a genuine interest in understanding their needs. 

Additionally, problem-solving abilities are crucial. Clients may encounter various challenges or have specific requirements, and it's essential for our team to be able to explore solutions effectively and address any issues that arise promptly. 

Furthermore, a solid understanding of loyalty principles and theories is key and can be easily learnt. This knowledge provides a foundation for effectively implementing loyalty programmes and ensuring that clients receive the maximum benefit from their programmes and campaigns. 

At Stream, we invest in our team's development through initiatives such as the Loyalty Academy, providing them with the necessary tools and knowledge to excel in their roles and deliver exceptional service to our clients. By equipping our team with these qualities and resources, we ensure that they are well-prepared to meet the demands of the loyalty sector and exceed client expectations. 

Are there any emerging trends in customer loyalty that you find particularly exciting or promising? 

B2B loyalty, it is on a growth trajectory, but it still has a long way to evolve and develop. We still see very antiquated systems, with green screens and fax communication still in use with many of our clients. A large proportion of our client's customers still do not transact with them online thus providing huge opportunities to incentivise behaviour change.  

The value proposition of loyalty programmes is increasing far beyond that of a points balance. Most of our conversations include additional benefits and offerings, like providing extended warranties, training opportunities or the opportunity to attend exclusive events and networking opportunities – all of which LoyaltyStream® can facilitate through a singular platform. Not only is it providing customers with extra benefits which cost less to deliver, it is enhancing their personal growth, providing solid business benefits that can be passed on to their customers. 

I can’t leave out AI, the marmite of the latest trends! I’m excited to see how AI is going to continue to develop the support offering, assist in training and development and enhance the analytical capabilities to identify more unique, targeted opportunities for businesses to grow their loyalty solution. We have a couple of AI projects in proof-of-concept phase, and I have a couple more bubbling in my mind that I am keen to explore.  

In what ways is your team innovating to meet the evolving requirements of clients in customer loyalty? 

Our team is actively innovating to meet the evolving requirements of clients in customer loyalty by addressing the growing demand for multi-channel integration. We've observed a significant trend among our clients towards integrating their loyalty programmes across various online channels, apps and services and in some instances offline, to better support their business objectives. This integration spans from CRM integrations and marketing automation to Power BI and data warehousing, showcasing the extensive value of loyalty data beyond the confines of the loyalty programme itself. 

Our innovations are centred around enhancing efficiency, aiming to streamline processes for our clients. We're focused on making it easier for them to implement campaigns seamlessly, integrate with their existing systems, and leverage APIs to unlock the full potential of their loyalty data.  

What objectives do you have for your team and the services you provide moving forward? 

Moving forward, my team's objectives are aimed at enhancing our services through innovation and leveraging AI technology. We have an impressive array of insight dashboards within our software, and my goal is to propel our team towards pushing the boundaries of these capabilities this year. 

I believe that the strategic integration of AI holds a place in loyalty programmes and will see positive impacts to their growth. Currently, we're in the conceptual stage of developing an AI-powered tool with our product team. Still in its infancy, my vision for this tool encompasses three pivotal areas: 

AI Support: This entails providing members with responsive assistance for inquiries regarding the programme. Additionally, administrators will benefit from AI-guided support in programme administration, including system navigation, troubleshooting, and implementation of best practices gleaned from Stream's extensive collection of thought leadership articles and whitepapers. 

Content Curation: AI tools can play a role in curating compelling content when articulating ideas becomes challenging and words don’t flow easily to the keyboard. These tools will facilitate the creation of engaging content that administrators can seamlessly adapt to their unique tone of voice, ensuring maximum resonance with their audience. 

Campaign Targeting: By harnessing the power of AI alongside our proprietary campaign selector options, we aim to optimise campaign targeting. Through sophisticated data analysis, we'll identify specific groups of members for targeted interventions, thus driving meaningful behaviour change. 

By focusing on these objectives, we aim to not only enhance the functionality of our services but also provide our clients with cutting-edge tools to maximise the effectiveness of their loyalty programmes. 

About the Author

Laura Lloyd

Laura Lloyd

Laura’s goal is to develop partnerships with clients, seeking to understand their challenges in order to provide creative, value add solutions. Laura always seeks to provide a ‘no challenge is too big, no problem is too small’ attitude and aims to always exceed expectations.

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LoyaltyStream Key Features

  • 21 loyalty campaign types to suit every business
  • Options to deploy gamification campaigns such as Spin-To-Win and Prize Draws as well as Badges
  • Ability to track and reward all behaviours from transactions to actions
  • In-depth visual analytics and insights on Campaigns, Members, actions and transactions
  • Customisable CRM and segmentation options to suit your Member profile
  • Scalable modular SaaS platform that can grow with your business

 

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