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Re-imagining customer loyalty programs - Salesforce pitches a wider approach

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher January 13, 2021
Lynne Zaledonis, SVP Industry Marketing at Salesforce, talks through the firm’s new Loyalty Management product and shares her point of view on why companies need to re-imagine how they think about customer loyalty experiences.


Customer loyalty is critical to business success, but managing loyalty and retention is not always top of mind for companies. Yes, many have a loyalty program - B2C and some B2B - but most are based on old models that don’t work as well as they used to. Salesforce just introduced a new product that is claimed to change the way organizations do customer loyalty programs.

One of the biggest issues with loyalty programs today is that they are siloed in the marketing department. Typically run by marketing, many of these programs focus on things like building points to get free products or discounts on next purchases. What they don’t do, argues Lynne Zaledonis, SVP Industry Marketing at Salesforce, is look across the entire customer lifecycle to understand what customers might want or need to support their staying with the company. 

According to Zaledonis, challenges current loyalty programs face include:

  • Disconnected experiences - AKA not thinking about how loyalty works across the lifecycle
  • Irrelevant offers - AKA promotions that don’t match a customer’s needs or desires
  • Program fatigue - AKA customers just getting tired of the same experiences year after year

These challenges lead to low engagement and the program becoming more of a cost center than a profit center. It’s time companies re-think what loyalty means and how to create loyalty experiences that customers will love, says Zaledonis.

Building and nurturing loyalty

Built on the Salesforce Customer 360 platform, the new loyalty management product comes ready-to-use, with pre-built templates, data models, and business processes for the twelve vertical industries that Salesforce currently supports, including retail, consumer goods, manufacturing, travel, and hospitality. Users can customize the templates and processes to build a program that differentiates their company from the competition.

One example Zaledonis cites is that of a consumer goods company, such as a razor blade provider, that sells its products through other retailers and distributors and its own website. The company wants to better connect with its customers. It can use Loyalty Management to understand customers more deeply, allowing it to improve its products and create more personalized loyalty experiences. 

Another example would be a manufacturer which provides a loyalty program designed to inform and educate its distributors so they understand products better to help when speaking to customers. This type of loyalty program focuses on supporting distributors and helps increase the sales of the company’s products.  

Included with Salesforce Loyalty Management is:

  • Program Management - providing support for program tiers, different currencies, and benefits.
  • Member Management - profile management, individual and corporate profiles.
  • Partner Management - support for working with partners and their products.
  • Rewards Management - activity tracking, rules, deferred rewards, and more.
  • Analytics - full reporting on the program overall, members and partners.

Loyalty Management works across all Salesforce products, including the Marketing Cloud, CDP, Sales Cloud, the Experience Cloud, and more, to bring together all the data needed to understand customers and build the right loyalty program. Additional integrations, including Commerce Cloud and Mulesoft, are in the works for later in the year. 

The analytics are built on Tableau with Einstein embedded, helping companies see what’s working and enabling them to adjust programs or processes on the fly.

If an organization isn’t a Salesforce CRM user, Loyalty Management comes with an API to support integration with other systems, including different CRM, CDP, Marketing solutions, etc. The product can also be exended for use in other industries. 

Meet customers where they are

While customer loyalty programs are managed through the marketing department, they shouldn’t exist only within marketing programs. The ability to create a loyalty program that can provide personalized experiences across all touchpoints means meeting the customer where they are, not forcing them to come to a certain place to get rewarded for being a loyal customer or making them wait for points to accumulate. 

So, for example, a loyalty program could reach customers in an organization’s community platform or sales reps could leverage the loyalty program features in Sales Cloud. 

It also means experiences can be built that are about more than earning points or getting discounts. Organizations talk about creating great customer experiences all the time, but that’s often thought of in terms of winning customers, not keeping them. Loyalty programs have to go further.

My take

Think about how many loyalty programs you are a part of right now. From a B2C perspective, there are many. But how loyal are you to that company just because you collect points when you buy something? Probably not that loyal (because it takes forever to get enough points to exchange them for something you really want). 

From a B2B perspective, loyalty programs need to be about something else. And the companies that can figure out the right way to engage customers to build and maintain that loyalty and advocacy will be the most successful. 

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