The New Rules of Customership—Highlights from Bond.Forums

Bond Brand Loyalty

In a year of massive disruption, businesses had to rapidly pivot how they went to market and how they engaged their customers. Yet, even as many brands accelerated their digital and loyalty transformations, which were well underway before the pandemic, there are gaps between customer expectations and experiences like never before.BF serah

To help marketers succeed amid today’s new norms, we recently held our Bond.Forums: New Rules of Customership client-only event that was hosted by Bond Consultant Serah Jacob, and featured Bond experts and thought leaders from leading global brands, who inspired the audience to revitalize and reshape their own customers’ journeys.  

In the opening remarks, Bond CEO Bob Macdonald noted that people are comparing every customer experience they have to their last great experience, regardless of the industry. For brands, this creates complex customer (or human) challenges, which can be daunting.
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“We believe that creating meaningful bonds and connections between people is what matters most,” said Macdonald. “Using curiosity and empathy to understand your customers and employees, and how they want to be treated, is what the marketplace is looking for. This is the new expectation of customership.”   

Sean Claessen, Chief Strategy Officer at Bond, explored that notion in depth during his talk, “The New Rules of Customership.” “Customership is defined as the state of being a customer, but that state is ever-changing,” he said. “Importantly, the new rules of customership aren’t defined by brands, they’re defined by customers.” 
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 walked audiences through the new rules that are embedded in five key themes. One theme is reciprocity: customers now expect brands to be loyal to them before they can be loyal to brands. Another theme is customers
are shopping with their values. “As much as they’re shopping for value in a monetary sense, new values like time, flexibility and transparency are replacing loyalty currencies like redeemable points, discounts and dollars back,” said Claessen. “These new currencies are forging a new way forward.”

Later, Claessen held a “fireside chat” with Jeff Adamson, Chief Merchant Officer and Co-Founder, Neo Financial, a Canadian fintech. Adamson is also co-founder of online food ordering company SkipTheDishes, which was acquired in 2016. One topic they touched on was how to bring humanity to moments—at scale—that would otherwise be very transactional, especially given the digital focus on Neo Financial and SkipTheDishes. 

“You start thinking about the customer journey and what you’re learning about your customers at every single stage of that journey, from awareness to consideration to intent and purchase,” said Adamson. “Then it’s [leveraging the data] that’s going to help you understand how to make the relationship with the customer valuable to both of you, and not just about the transaction.”  

How one leading global brand—Ford—moved towards customership was explored in a Q&A with Morana Bakula, EVP, Design & Experience Management at Bond; and Jason Sprawka, Global Director of Experience at Ford. Sprawka shared the experiences and lessons he and his team learned on their journey of transforming an iconic automotive brand into a global customer company. 

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“One of the tools we believe in passionately is the use of human-centered design as an enabler to driving great customer experiences,” he said. “[But first], we needed to define a vision. It wasn’t enough to say, ‘we want to create customer experiences.’ We had to define specifically at our touchpoints how we want our customers to be served, how we want them to feel, and the ease and emotion they have in their experiences with us. It was a lot of work, but we think those important first steps laid the groundwork to allow us to innovate and move faster in the future.”  

Build a Data Ecosystem to Enhance Customership
A panel discussion hosted by Francis Silva, Bond’s VP, Analytics & Technology, took a deep dive into building a data ecosystem to enhance customership. The stellar panelists included: Bilal Khan, Managing Director & Head of Snowflake Canada; Khalil Alfar, GM Customer Success & Chief Data Officer, Microsoft; and Nicole Lusignan, Head of Strategy, North America, Qualtrics.

In a wide-ranging discussion, the panelists covered the value brands can unlock through data ecosystems, the value they can provide customers, some of the risks such as ethical and regulatory challenges, and the future of data ecosystems.  

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Khan noted that to create a meaningful data infrastructure, companies need two things: depth of data and diversity of data. “Diversity of data is where ecosystems become incredibly powerful. When you need different sets of data about customers… oftentimes you can’t find that within your organization,” he said. “You then need to partner and build that ecosystem. And that’s where the power of data and analytics becomes very meaningful.”  

Panelists also discussed the importance of the democratization of data. “I would encourage people to think about how you empower your employee base and your partners to understand the data coming in and react to it,” said Lusignan. “It’s no longer enough for senior leaders to have this ability, but it’s important to democratize the data so that everybody has access to it and can act on it quickly.”   

On the subject of risks, Alfar said that as data continues to become the driver of business insights, protecting that data is paramount. “Fundamental practices have not really changed,” he said. “Organizations have to be thinking about what the data governance and controls model looks like, what are their privacy and security policies, and what legal compliance risks they have.”  

New Loyalty Report. New Decade. New Norms.
Finally, the event featured an exclusive preview of The Loyalty Report 2021, including the top performers in Canada and the U.S., as well as some of the leaders, challengers and laggards in the loyalty space.

tlr forumsPhil Rubin, EVP, Strategic Partnerships discussed the changes that have been taking place between consumers and brands over the last 12 months, what it means for the bonds between them and today’s new loyalty paradigm.  

“The insights in this year’s Loyalty Report validate the notion of reciprocity,” said Rubin. “When a brand does the right things for customers and creates the right experiences, it accrues loyalty to the program and loyalty to the brand. For select leaders, that translates into a feeling on the part of customers that the brand is loyal to them. This drives a new outcome in our analysis that you’ll see in our Loyalty Report: share of wallet.” 

The Loyalty Report 2021 Executive Summary is now available. Click here to view and download.
We also invite you to register for our Aug 11th Loyalty Report webinar with The Wise Marketer.

Watch our Bond.Forums highlights video here:Teaser video frame hubsp[ot-1