October 7, 2022
Abigail Cerra, ReFuel, discusses 7 key parts to c-store loyalty systems. While the rollout of a loyalty system can be daunting, there are a set of things to consider that can be addressed to successfully achieve the customer loyalty implementation. Based on her experience of implementing several loyalty programs she identifies a few keys to success for loyalty:
- How to Define the Program
- Success Factors with New Technology
- Culture is the Basis of Loyalty
- Loyalty in Onboarding
- Preparation – Before You Start
- Lessons Learned
How to Define the Program
The first thing is to define what type of program you want. For example, is it a points program, a club program, fuel program or a combination of multiple features. Define what you want to deliver before you choose the platform. Further get buy-in starting at the top of the organization. Make sure they understand all of the keys to success for loyalty.
Success Factors for Loyalty
Real loyalty is about the customer experience in the stores. The technology multiplies and supports the experience. Without a great store experience, however, loyalty will not succeed. It must be a genuine relationship. Cerra recommends implementing with the store managers but working with all aspects from the company – marketing, IT, HR – all parts. Integration of the technology and the culture are necessary. The benefit, however, is that the sales and profits grow dramatically, with a genuinely loyal customer base.
Culture is all about the people. When we take care of our people, they take care of our customers. I am not focused on the loyalty. I am focused on the culture. We foster the mindset of the customer experience. Each time we clean the bathroom, as we train our staff on our purpose, even with upselling, we must make sure we teach and live the importance of taking care of the bathroom. We believe our work is to serve our customers. We cannot just drive the numbers, we must live the ‘new way of thinking’ to serve.
People want to do business with companies they feel good about. They want to know we are giving back to the community, we are consistent, safe and a place that customers want to enjoy. Driving the consistency is critical to our growth. We cannot market around a bad experience. We must make our brand promise match what really happens in the store. It is the way people feel about your brand that is truly your brand.
Loyalty in Onboarding
When acquire stores we must keep the staff and the community connection. At the same time we must make sure our culture is onboarded. Change is so hard for people so we must be careful to share our culture and respect the community and team relationships that are in place. The new staff must be comfortable with how we serve our customers or they will not buy-in to our culture. The reality is that our loyalty is in the store. Our loyalty program and technology enhances the customer relationship. It only happens when it is real in the stores.
Preparation – Before You Start
After building a few programs, one of the most important things to share is what to avoid. The plan for should address all 7 key parts to c-store loyalty systems. Do not rush the start. Get the plan right. Build the program for long time success. It cannot only be about speed to market. Being absolutely ready is critical. Specifically, there are a few essentials: having buy-in, not forgetting the other departments impact on the loyalty and the loyalty impact on them. It is worth the extra time to share, train and set the picture so everyone knows their role. These programs need to last five to ten years. Taking things away from customers can hurt the loyalty.
Lessons Learned – Keys to Success for Loyalty
Start and test in a small way before you roll it out. The cost and pain of not having the program fully prepared is high. Always test it first. Addressing these keys to success for loyalty gets results and makes keeps the program viable into the future.