Making an Impact on Customer Experience in 2021

By: Lori Stout


We’re already one month into the new year, which means that organizations of all shapes and sizes are (virtually) gathering for their annual kickoff meetings. Punchh is no exception, having thrown an energizing global kickoff (GKO) last week. When I joined Punchh last September, I left a long-time career in the contact center and unified communications industry. At the time, it felt like a huge leap to join an AI-powered loyalty company. I knew little about customer rewards programs outside of my own experience and wondered how that experience would translate. 

Since then, I’ve realized that my missive at Punchh isn’t so different from what I’ve spent my professional life working toward– creating a better customer experience and driving higher brand loyalty. No matter the industry, whether it’s a restaurant attempting to pivot its business model to digital channels or a convenience store that needs to incent its fuel customers to come inside the store, it all hinges on a great consumer experience. 

CX was a recurring theme at our global kickoff last week, wrapped into a single question: “How will you make an impact in 2021?” Here are a few takeaways that I would like to share from our GKO that reflect our commitment to helping our clients create a better customer experience and higher brand loyalty in 2021.

Loyalty isn’t a program–it’s a philosophy

While it’s common to refer to a loyalty strategy as a “program,” it encompasses much more than that. As a marketer, you know that loyalty touches every channel, device, and location your customers engage with you. From your mobile loyalty app to your POS integrations–each piece of data you gather gives you a deeper understanding of how your customers want to interact with you. Every experience with your brand should feel consistent, simple, and personalized–whether it’s in-store, online, at the fuel pump, or in a mobile app. 

Punchh integrates with nearly 200 third-party systems for that very reason; to create a 360-degree view of the customer for our clients. With all of that data at your fingertips, you can create 1:1 marketing campaigns and personalized offers that move customers through the loyalty lifecycle– from their first purchase with you all the way to brand superfan status. You’ll hear more about new integrations and partnerships in 2021 that will help our clients make a big impact in the market. 

AI is the foundation of modern loyalty

Remember about a decade ago when artificial intelligence was still a relatively emerging concept? Companies of all sorts put a price sticker on AI, adding it as a neat little line item to their product catalogs. We’ve collectively learned a lot since then. 

What we know to be true at Punchh is that modern loyalty requires modern solutions. AI isn’t something you can just tack on to your tech stack if you want to make a real difference to your KPIs. Instead, it needs to be the driving force behind every piece of your loyalty marketing strategy. 

An integrated loyalty solution is comprised of many parts– your CRM, compatibility with third-party platforms, your unique offers and campaigns, etc. And if modern loyalty is made of those building blocks, AI should be the foundation that holds it all together and gives it structure.

Using the omnichannel consumer data collected from consumer touchpoints, Punchh Merlin makes ML-based recommendations to inform the right segments, offers, campaigns, and messages that marketers need to connect with their customers and move them through the loyalty lifecycle. It’s just there, doing its job to feed every interaction on every channel. Watch for new announcements in 2021 as we add even more strength to our platform through Merlin AI.  

Clarity comes from a customer focus

The single most important takeaway from GKO for me was the universal commitment from our teams to continue to put our customers first in 2021. I got my start as a marketer by launching a customer marketing team for a SaaS startup a couple of decades ago. It taught me to look at everything through the lens of the customer, and it was the best learning experience of my career. CX is my first love, and I am thrilled to be part of a company that holds itself accountable to customer success. 

Despite the challenges of 2020 (and there were many!), Punchh upheld a commitment to putting customers first. From resources and insights that helped brands navigate the uncertainties of COVID to new technologies that allowed for easier contactless ordering, payments, and pickup– every team at Punchh put on their consumer hats in 2020 and got to work. While we didn’t do everything perfectly, we know that the solutions and services we delivered helped our customers recover more quickly than brands that didn’t use data-driven loyalty to engage with customers. What better impact could we hope for as a company?

Customer focus is no less important to us in 2021 than it was last year. From a new platform certification program to the continuation of our Customer Advisory Board, every employee at Punchh is invested in our customers’ continued success. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we plan to impact customer experience and help our clients drive higher loyalty and CLV, contact us for a personalized demo or to talk about your specific loyalty goals for 2021.

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