Blue World Voyages CEO John B. Richards is a well established presence in the Scottsdale, Arizona, community who has engineered growth strategies for a number of leading corporations including Starbucks and Life Time Fitness. In the recent LinkedIn article “Where does your Loyalty Program stand? Is anyone safe?,” John B. Richards shed light on the challenges of building brand loyalty within a disruptive digital marketing environment.
While software-driven big data provides actionable, real-time insight into customer performance hierarchies, this alone is not enough to maintain loyalty among today’s easily distracted consumers. The most effective approach uses a holistic combination of “high impact information” and focused engagement that emphasizes building meaningful relationships.
Ideally, these relationships involve several factors that create “a lifetime of value,” including purchase quality, frequency, and growth, as well as the overall depth of the connection. While data-driven approaches can better target offers, branding, and rewards, engagement is a “high touch” undertaking that requires exceeding expectations in the actual product or service delivered. Over-engineering loyalty awards can have a negative effect when the consumer is bombarded with complex and confusing information, and even erode a customer’s brand allegiance.
John B. Richards is an accomplished business executive who has served in senior management and executive roles for a number of service businesses, including Starbucks Coffee Company. During his tenure at Starbucks, John B. Richards grew annual store openings from 285 to 410, first as the company’s president, retail North America and later as the president of Starbuck’s North American operations. Scaling a service business is a difficult task so here is some basic advice.
1. Sell one thing many times. A service business’ model is based on selling one, or a limited number, of products multiple times to the same customers. As such, companies must provide a service that fosters brand loyalty and must consider how to sell a single product in a variety of ways.
2. Finding the right people. As a service business manager, you likely have core competencies, such as sales ability. However, the demands of operating the business will often mean that you only put a small amount of your time into that core competency. As such, finding the right people who can commit 100 percent of their time to specific areas of the business facilitates growth. Create teams based on the core facets of the business and ensure the members of those teams understand their objectives and receive the tools needed to focus their efforts on driving their departments forward.