An All Too Frequent Scenario
You have a popular loyalty program in place. The overall adoption and use isn’t as high as you might like, but those who participate are extremely loyal.
Your company is also rolling out a new mobile app for your customers in the coming months, but with one “minor” issue. Your current loyalty program provider told you it would take 12-18 months, and more cost than your mobile app budget could fathom, to integrate to your mobile platform.
In an effort to get that mobile app in market as soon as possible, you took the recommendation of your mobile platform provider and used their native loyalty program, which is a completely different loyalty experience from what you have currently. They assured you that your mobile customers would largely be net new, and that your current customers who love your loyalty program likely wouldn’t even try the mobile app.
What could go wrong?
The Danger of Project Silos with Mobile
The scenario above is exaggerated for effect to display the stance that organizations all too often take when rushing to market with their mobile platform and app. Your mobile program is NOT a standalone project, and as such, it needs to have a cohesive plan to match that of your current organization.
Your current loyalty program and consumer experience needs to be the same, if not better, for mobile consumers. Your payment methodologies and security in place need to match your current consumer expectations. Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system experience for your mobile consumer needs to match or exceed what you currently have in place.
For example, mobile consumers could be driven away from the app experience if they received email and text alerts every time they were in close proximity to one of your sites, but your current CRM only emailed them offers once every week. It would be prudent to determine how to better engage with the consumer directly without overwhelming them.
The scenario in the opening paragraph presents another excellent illustration; offering a completely new and separate loyalty program for your mobile consumers, just due to the ease of implementation. How quickly would current loyalty consumers choose to abandon your brand completely? Actions like these silo your mobile offering from the rest of your business and operational strategy.
As I mentioned in a previous article, (Mobile Payments: Avoiding the Rapid Path to Irrelevancy) mobile consumers are a fickle bunch. Deterring your most loyal consumers by rolling out a mobile program that has a completely new consumer experience will sour them not only on use of your app, which you are trying to continue to justify as an organizational need, but could potentially impact their loyalty to your company long term.
Hurry, But Don’t Rush
I am not going to say that speed to market is not important for mobile. Matching consumer desires to interact via app with your organization and ensuring you are keeping up with what your primary competitors are doing is of vital importance. Work with your mobile vendors to determine timelines to deliver the different core facets that you will need in your mobile end state, such as payments, loyalty, geo location, account history, or other features. Every facet needs to be delivered and work flawlessly in each and every app release.
For example, if payment capabilities can be developed, tested, piloted and enable your app to be deployed to market, and your current loyalty experience or other facets of your current consumer experience cannot be completed with the initial roll out, so be it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the best in class Starbucks app didn’t have its full current feature set on day one.
You will undoubtedly lose consumers who feel your app is not robust enough. You will also gain new mobile consumers who expect updates and new functionality to be added over time, and appreciate the complete functionality and market leading technology you have rolled out thus far. But again, what they will not expect is a completely new experience, which should lead you to avoid the aforementioned example of a “new mobile only loyalty program”.
It is key to ensure that your overall mobile program will continue to deliver on the direction of your organization’s overall consumer experience, and that changes can be thought through universally and not with mobile as a standalone initiative.