10 Steps to Loyalty Program Executional Excellence

Richard Schenker

In many cases, the distance between the offices of marketing and the operations staff is too far. When it comes to loyalty programs, Marketers can fall into the trap of missing executional realities—including the ability to turn front-line staff into evangelical brand ambassadors.


Neglecting to include front-line representatives and other key stakeholders early in the loyalty program design process can lead to poor promotional execution of campaigns, unchecked accountability and other issues. There also can be a lack of clarity and continuity of expectations, especially with new hires. Then, as competing business priorities arise, the program becomes little more than a sideshow over time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our recent Loyalty360/Bond Brand Loyalty webinar, “Measure Twice, Cut Once—Get it Right From the Start!” provided a case study of a leading North American retailer whose loyalty program has set an industry gold standard. It’s not just that enrollment goals for the entire first year were met within the first month. It’s also that front-line staff were and continue to be enthusiastic participants themselves, continuing to create excitement, share tips and engender loyalty with customers. 

A number of crucial steps helped that happen:

  1. The program was initiated and sponsored with senior approval and support to build a dedicated, cross-functional project team. That team included representation from marketing, technology, operations, merchandising, legal and privacy, public relations, finance, and corporate strategy. Each cross-functional member had a seat and a vote at the strategic table during the design and implementation stages.
  2. Head office operations were integrated with store operators. Allowing operations to help discover and propose real-life solutions to challenges resulting in higher inclusion and less resistance.
  3. A safe, collaborative environment allowed all stakeholders to be accepted and heard. Marketers have two ears and one mouth, and used them in proportion.
  4. The project team’s marketing lead secured alignment with the cross-functional team before seeking approval to pilot from the executive team.
  5. Field training was led by operations and supported by marketing. As those with “boots on the ground,” operations staff were given more control.
  6. “Loyalty Captains” were designated in every store to be the contact for communications, customer service training and success metrics.
  7. The program was opened to staff prior to the launch. Employees were able to explore all the program had to offer, building excitement as well as the desire to share personal experiences with customers.
  8. Everyone, from the CEO to the cashier, had clearly defined and measurable goals. In addition, other promotional efforts were moved to the back burner to allow employees to focus entirely on the program’s success. In addition, the CEO tied bonuses—including his own—to the program’s success, demonstrating passion and commitment that passed down throughout the organization. Bonuses were given to stores that overachieved.
  9. An extended pilot of the program lasting 16 months allowed for the fine-tuning of measurements, processes and technology. Learnings from the pilot were leveraged to “right-size” operational challenges.  
  10. The program set-up ensured ongoing training for new employees. It’s no secret that retail has a high turnover rate, especially when including the addition of seasonal help. Loyalty program training must be a consistent element of onboarding.
  11. BONUS: The plan included a mechanism for genuine store operations feedback. An advisory board was established to help ensure two-way communication from the field, and continued to operate well after the program began. 

This post is a an excerpt from our recent white paper, "Failure to Launch: How to Realize Executional Excellence to Ensure Loyalty Program Success"


Richard Schenker
Senior Loyalty Consulting Director