Integrating Customer Loyalty into Your Organizational Structure: Don’t Underestimate the Challenge

Fidélisation et impacts organisationnels

Integrating customer loyalty into your organization: Strategies and practices for successful long-term customer engagement

In today’s demanding business environments, where annual targets constantly evolve and increase, you’ve been given a crucial mission: to design and implement a customer loyalty program. Your roadmap is clear: collect data, personalize customer interactions, improve satisfaction, and increase purchase frequency—all while mitigating customer churn. But reality is catching up with you.

When you try to meet the data team, you learn that they are overloaded. They’re juggling a dozen other key performance indicators required by the VP. Your project, crucial as it is, seems to take a back seat to a mountain of other tasks.

When you meet with the IT team, you’ll be asked to provide requirements that can be evaluated in just a few months—once the current technology migration project has been completed.

And what about the logistics team? You want to explore possibilities for integrating gifts into the product delivery process and rethink packaging. However, their immediate priority is to reduce operational costs and headcount. Your loyalty program is not at the top of that team’s list. You feel like you’re reliving a frustrating situation every single time you engage with yet another team.

So how do you move forward? How do you set up a customer loyalty program capable of gathering data, adapting the customer approach and increasing satisfaction despite all these challenges of internal collaboration?

Loyalty: A company-wide responsibility

Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. The tendency to assign the creation and management of loyalty programs in isolation is widespread within companies of all sizes. Unsurprisingly, integrating loyalty marketing into the overall corporate strategy remains the main challenge for organizations considering launching such a program. According to the Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022, 75% of companies planning to launch a loyalty program recognize this integration as a major obstacle.

Often, the responsibility of customer loyalty is entrusted exclusively to the marketing department or even to a single project manager in the hope that this will suffice. However, without organizational alignment, a clear division of responsibilities and established accountability, it’s unlikely that the program will succeed over time or even see the light of day.  

Integrating loyalty programs: Recurring pitfalls

According to a study by Cap Gemini, 77% of loyalty programs do not survive more than two years. That’s a shocking statistic, isn’t it?

To explain this fact, let’s explore a study conducted by The Wise Marketer in 2019, which revealed the main causes of loyalty program failure:

  1. Data misuse
  2. Inability to demonstrate performance
  3. Inadequate communication
  4. Insufficient support and buy-in from the C-Suite
  5. Friction in customer processes
  6. Low or unappealing non-financial benefits
  7. Employee disengagement
  8. Inadequate funding (for rewards and operations)

It shows that only 2 of the top 8 reasons given are directly related to the intrinsic value of the program, while the rest are attributable to poor planning and management. This highlights the devastating consequences of neglected planning.

Beyond program design and selecting the right technologies, the success of a loyalty program also (and primarily!) depends on this crucial stage. It’s not just a question of an in-depth understanding of customer needs, assessing the potential impact on the organization, and adequately preparing the necessary internal changes.

Start with company-wide awareness

Starting with company-wide awareness is essential to the success of a customer loyalty strategy. It is crucial that employees at all levels understand the importance of the program and feel involved in its realization. This requires early socialization of the program, transparency and the involvement of all stakeholders. During this start-up phase, it’s important to clarify the reasons for setting up the program, the expected results, and the roles of each team. It is also the time to think about fostering accountability and inter-team collaboration. Even with the best concept and the most advanced technologies, the commitment of all levels of the organization as well as the support of managers and employees, remains essential to ensure the success of your customer loyalty program.

Integrating the program into your brand’s DNA

Successful examples of customer loyalty, such as Starbucks or Sephora, illustrate the importance of making loyalty a fundamental component of your company’s brand identity at every level. In fact, during financial results presentations, Starbucks’ CEO regularly highlights the positive impact of loyalty on the company’s performance levels.

These statements highlight the crucial importance of customer loyalty for the company and the need to place it at the heart of organizational priorities.

The Four Pillars of a Loyalty Program’s Harmonious Integration into a Company’s Overall Strategy

Again, the success of a loyalty program depends not only on its design and implementation but also (and above all) on its harmonious integration into a company’s overall strategy. Although this represents a major challenge, it is not impossible to achieve. With this in mind, here are the four main pillars we recommend you rely on: executive support and realignment with the corporate culture, harmonization of objectives and priorities between different teams, review and adaptation of work processes, and ongoing sharing of results.

1. Executive support and corporate culture realignment

Active management support is crucial to the success of a loyalty program. Leaders must not only support the program but also demonstrate their commitment at all levels of the organization. This may involve reshaping the corporate culture to prioritize customer loyalty. Company values and objectives need to be re-evaluated to reflect this commitment, and leaders need to communicate transparently and consistently about the importance of this initiative.

2. Alignment of objectives and priorities between teams

For the loyalty program to be fully integrated into the company’s overall strategy, it is essential that the objectives and priorities of each team are aligned with those of the program. This requires clear communication of the program’s objectives and close collaboration between all the teams involved. Individual objectives must be aligned with those of the loyalty program, and teams must work together to achieve these common goals.

3. Reviewing and adapting work processes

Successfully integrating a loyalty program often involves reviewing and adapting existing work processes. This may include adopting new technologies to collect and analyze customer data, implementing new processes to personalize customer interactions, or developing new skills within teams to better meet

4. Continuous profit sharing

At the same time, it is important to establish a practice of continuously sharing loyalty program results within the organization. This not only helps to maintain transparency and team commitment but also to constantly adjust and improve strategies based on feedback. This regular sharing of results fosters a culture of learning and continuous improvement, reinforcing the effectiveness of the loyalty program.

The Importance of Ongoing Commitment

Ongoing commitment is of paramount importance for a successful customer loyalty program. Too often considered a project or a simple initiative, a program often mobilizes teams to launch a minimum viable product (MVP). However, once this stage has been reached, it becomes difficult to maintain the involvement of various stakeholders to ensure its performance and evolution. Integrating customer loyalty into your organization involves much more than a one-off initiative. As we have pointed out, it requires a thorough overhaul of processes, adopting common objectives, and even adapting the organizational culture.

In fact, launching an MVP is just the starting point! Once the program has been launched, it must continue to evolve by adding or adjusting features, enhancing the customer experience, and engaging customers on an ongoing basis. Companies must understand that loyalty is not a short-term task—but a long-term initiative requiring sustained attention and effort.

Organizational realignment must occur to ensure the ongoing mobilization of the resources of each team involved, making them as accountable for results as the project manager. This involves establishing clear processes for managing and monitoring the loyalty program as well as putting in place mechanisms to regularly measure and evaluate its impact.

By adopting an approach to continuous engagement, companies can ensure that their loyalty programs remain relevant and effective in an ever-changing business environment. This will help maintain customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and ensure long-term success.

In conclusion, what highlights should you remember?

  1. Customer loyalty is not simply an isolated initiative but a collective responsibility within the organization.
  2. Setting up a loyalty program requires meticulous planning, which is often neglected. 90% of the work goes into planning and 10% into execution, as they say!
  3. Loyalty building is not a one-off initiative but requires ongoing commitment to maintain its relevance and effectiveness over time.

Are you planning to implement a loyalty strategy within your company? As specialists in customer loyalty, we offer you a training and awareness program for all the stakeholders in your organization. We also analyze the organizational impact of your strategy and identify specific needs to ensure sustainable performance of your loyalty program. Contact us to find out more.

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