Creating customer loyalty is the very backbone of many small businesses. But creating customer loyalty doesn’t just happen overnight, sometimes your customers need a little nudge to encourage them to keep coming back. And what better way to encourage them than by making it as easy for them as possible.
The key is in connecting the transaction to the loyalty aspect for your customers. The philosophy behind customer loyalty programs is really quite simple; mobile payment apps provide both the merchant and the customer a faster transaction, repeat customers are rewarded, and the businesses sales increase. In today’s world of consumer savviness, businesses recognize mobile payment apps enhance the guest experience as well as help extend their brand, therefore making it crucial for brands to enhance their offerings, and loyalty programs top the list.
Chris Munz’s mobile marketing technology expertise has helped countless national brands better understand their marketing needs, and helped them implement mobile strategies to succeed in business.
Rich: Chris Munz is a mobile marketing technology expert, leading, training and implementing strategies for over 10 years. He’s worked with hundreds of brands to push the boundaries of customer acquisition and engagement in various marketing channels.
His current role is the resident mobile marketing technologist around mobile payments, helping brands understand the importance and impact mobile is having on their businesses. Chris has successfully helped restaurants strategize and implement countless CRM database marketing programs, including companies like Applebee’s, Hard Rock Cafe, IHOP, Jamba Juice and Red Robin, just to name a few.
He has a proven track record of successful marketing strategy planning and a skill to lead the conversation. Chris resides right here in the Portland, Maine area with his wife and three children. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris: Thanks, Rich, I appreciate you having me on.
Rich: This is an area that I don’t know a lot about, so I really appreciate your time and expertise here. How did you become an expert in mobile payments?
Chris: Well it’s interesting, I got my start really around database and email marketing and was watching over the last 7 years of my career how mobile was really infiltrating in that space and mobile open rates were really starting to take a real big chunk out of how people were reading marketing emails and saw that things could be built around mobile to give a better customer experience. So I really started putting a lot of my effort and time and energy into the mobile space from an email perspective. So that’s how I got started into this “mobile sphere”, I like to call it.
Rich: That sounds good. Now I’m seeing ads on TV these days for Apple Pay, Chase Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, I don’t even know what kind of pay anymore. It all seems very confusing to me. Are people ready for mobile payments?
Chris: I think they are. I think people understand that this is going to be a future way to pay. I don’t believe it will be the only way. I don’t believe it’s a replacement for credit or debit cards. I think we’ll always carry them. I think as the experience for mobile payments becomes more seamless and tied to other entities like a loyalty program – if it’s something that’s a known loyalty program or a surprise and delight program – people are going to be more adept at actually having more than one wallet or using just one wallet as a means of payment or storage of card data.
Rich: Ok, I think I know the concept behind a loyalty program, but what’s a “surprise and delight” program?
Chris: So a “surprise and delight” program, personally I think it’s the wave of the future when it comes to rewarding guests or patrons or customers in real time, so data now can actually be pushed to general managers of hotels when an executive guest arrives to reward them right on the spot for free coffee or their dinner is paid for. This is that experience that ultimately brands are trying to get to and not having to put concrete, set parameters around a loyalty program.
Rich: Ok. So it sounds like obviously there seems to be a growing segment of mobile payments going on here, but it still feels like we need to do some incentivizing to get people to maybe take that first step of breaking into paying for something with their mobile device.
Chris: Absolutely, Where payments is today in the mobile space is that it’s being touted as “convenient” for the customer. The thing about it is that convenience is great, but the swipe of the card is convenience. Now there’s this thing that’s going on that’s been happening since October 1st called EMV which is now the new chip cards, which does slow down the process and has actually helped mobile payments be thrust to the forefront.
That being said, there needs to be incentives, there needs to be rewards built around payment. They’re already building these systems in place, a lot of brands, and now it’s really understanding the connection between the transaction and the loyalty component of the business.
Rich: Ok, because if we’re tracking how people are spending money at our stores, there are ways,obviously, that we can reward that behavior on some level like some sort of high tech sandwich card.
Chris: Absolutely, Yeah, that’s a really good way to put it. It is about the customer journey and that experience, and limiting the effect at the end of the sale process. So the transaction should lead to the next behavior, and that could be interaction in multiple channels of marketing, it could be another transaction that’s maybe closer to this first transaction. There’s all these ways now because of the data collection on the back end and the usability of that data and the systems that can be connected, mobile payments actually bridges that gap that we’ve all talked about in marketing, and mobile and payments specifically unlocks that and can bring it all together for us as marketers.
Rich: I like what you said that the mobile transaction can lead to the next behavior. So all of a sudden you’re starting to build these “sinews”, so to speak, of your relationship with these people who maybe in the past just paid you with cash or credit card and you had no real control or maybe you weren’t paying attention to the way they were spending, but now we can actually develop maybe a richer experience for the customer.
Chris: Absolutely, yeah. And that really should be the ultimate goal when it comes to a mobile program that’s built around payments. Now not every business is going to have a need for mobile payments within an app or within their mobile site or even from a mobile e-commerce perspective. But those are all things that people should evaluate to either round out solutions they already have in place or if they’re thinking about mobile as a strategy or as part of their bigger strategy.
Rich: Alright, let’s say somebody is listening to this show and all of a sudden they’re like, “Wow, you know I never really thought of mobile payments before”, and they’re interested in getting going. So what are going to be their first steps in starting taking mobile payments?
Chris: Well one is really getting with the company that processes their payments today. So there’s various processors out on the market that brands are using today, from First Data to Worldpay to I believe a company here in Portland called Power Pay. And I would recommend starting there, because at the end of the day they’re the ones that are processing the payments, they’ve already established a relationship with you, you trust them and they’re also looking at this space very closely and are able to provide recommendations of companies that can not only give them payments for existing mobile structures, if they already have an app. Or, they also can help with finding companies that build apps that have payments and loyalty and components that they would need.
I also would say that looking at you customer base, so looking at existing SMS databases, email databases, even going and sitting in your location and understanding who your guest is and if this is something that they would actually use. There’s no sense in spending hard earned money to something your customer may not use.
Rich: Absolutely. I notice as I was reading through your bio and introducing you that you’ve worked with a lot of people in the restaurant industry, so I certainly see that this would be effective in the restaurant industry. Are their certain types of businesses or industries that are maybe leading the charge on this that are probably better fits for mobile payment in the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 compared to some other types of businesses?
Chris: I would say restaurants are leading the way in the sense that they’re definitely affected by new POS systems that are coming on board, the iPad POS is definitely taking some market share out of some of the traditional POS companies out there. Also, they’re very heavy in the loyalty space and they’re trying to bridge that gap of transaction data and loyalty data.
But retail also, I mean if you think of Target and Nordstrom they all have affinity credit cards where it’s a Nordstrom card and that’s how they do their loyalty. Smaller brands can do that within the mobile space and don’t have to have the overhead of printing cards when it comes to loyalty or to a credit or debit affinity card program, it can all be done within a virtual, mobile space. So those are probably the 2 sectors that I see really taking advantage and pushing this forward.
Rich: Ok, so let’s say that we get set up so that we’re taking these mobile payments. Do we own the data, does some giant corporation own the data, and how do we use that data then to benefit ourselves in our own marketing?
Chris: So I would always recommend asking that questions for whoever the provider is.
Rich: So you’ve seen models where it works one way or the other way, is what you’re saying?
Chris: Absolutely, yes. And it can work both ways whereas you share in the entity. I highly recommend that you would go with a provider that you own the data, because it’s going to be your marketing effort to acquire these guests and you’re paying X amount of dollars and cents for these new members within your program. And really for you to get the maximum out of these programs you need to have these people within your marketing ecosystem.
Rich: So let’s say that we’re taking something like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay – or any of them – where does the loyalty program – or surprise and delight program – fit in? Is that like another layer here? I guess that’s the piece I’m not getting.
I can see where we bought the hardware now and we can take Apple Pay now, but how do we then put that…how does that fit into the rest of our mobile marketing, our customer attention, what does that ecosystem look like?
Chris: That’s a great question. Right now the Apple Pays, the Samsung Pays, the Android Pays, there is a disconnect between loyalty and customer engagement. Right now those systems are built around customer engagement and really it’s about the merchant acceptance. I think it’s why we’re seeing this cloud over our heads in the mobile space is that there’s not a win for the merchant right now. The win is that the consumer gets a faster transaction.
But the reality of it is there needs to be a win/win for both the customer, which is the rewards, the ease of use, all in one place. And then the win for the merchant is the fact that they understand their guest better, that they can build products for these customers, they can understand their buying habits. They can talk to them in a one to one manner. This is where mobile payments will be accepted from consumer and merchant.
Rich: So if I choose Apple Pay as an example, am I getting any of that data that then I can use on my marketing, or is that solely going to help me maybe win over some people that like to pay using their iPhone?
Chris: Right now you’re going to win people that like to pay with their iPhone, and I think the data is actually showing that now where it’s actually decreased in usage even though iPhone sales have gone up, according to a payments.com study. So a lot of it is because it’s not tied to other entities.
Rich: So it seems like if I’m running a retail space – or any space that takes money – what I really want to grow my business then is some sort of loyalty program – or as you call them, “surprise and delight” program – that ties into the mobile experience, more than just taking Apple Pay. Is that what you’re suggesting?
Chris: I would, yes. I think it’s just a greater win for the merchant to be able to understand that guest a lot more. And at the end of the day, that’s what the guest wants. They want to feel that their dollars are going towards something other than just buying that item. We definitely live in a loyalty-centric society now because there are so many of those programs out there and they’ve been around for a while in a card traditional based system.
Rich: Well it’s just interesting. I mean obviously there’s loyalty programs where you get 8 and then you get your 9th one free. I have a friend who runs a lot of stores that are very environmentally conscious and I almost wonder if they can do something where by using this loyalty card you actually make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund or something like that. So there’s a lot of different ways that you might be able to capture the imagination of people and what people are excited about.
If I’m going to do one of these programs – and this maybe you already answered – is that when I turn to one of these providers like Power Pay, or who are the players out there that I should be talking to if I’m ready to do a mobile loyalty program?
Chris: So there’s a couple providers that I know of, Punchh is definitely one that’s leading in the restaurant/retail space, there’s also Relevant Mobile just to name a couple that are pushing the envelope. There’s a UK based company that’s called StampFeet that I’ve run into and had many conversations about their system. What’s great about this space is that it’s evolving. And then there’s players like Chase, and we’ll see Apple and Samsung, we’ll see these systems improve greatly over the next year or two.
Rich: Yeah, I would guess that somebody like Apple who is competing with Samsung – and if you believe the Samsung ads, Samsung is ahead – would start to build in some loyalty type programs into Apple Pay so that some merchants would choose them. But that’s just me guessing at what may happen down the road.
So if we’ve found our provider, we’ve got our loyalty plan or surprise and delight plan in place, how does that fit into a successful mobile strategy? How would you let people know about it or how would you use it if you were that small business owner who has a retail space?
Chris: I would make sure that it was within every marketing communications that I put out there. So it would be very intricate within my email and SMS program, from an in-store experience I would make people aware of this experience that they can take part in and they can carry my brand around in their pocket. I would make them feel a part of the brand and having this mobile solution in their pocket that they’re more connected to me as a consumer and they can have that one to one in real time.
So I think it has to be blanketed if you’re going to invest in a mobile solution I think it has to be that everywhere mentality, because as I said earlier it’s that bridge that un-silos these channels that we’ve been trying to figure out how they work together.
Rich: Awesome. And so how does loyalty play into mobile payments?
Chris: I think loyalty is the lynchpin. I think that for acceptance, and we’re really at the infant stage when it comes to mobile payment acceptance, but it’s going to be increasing over time. I think loyalty and prepaid gift cards are probably the two components that will actually push mobile payments over the fence and become more accepted in the marketplace from a consumer and a merchant perspective.
Rich: This has been hugely interesting, because this is definitely an area that I don’t know much about. I know that a lot of our listeners do own retail spaces and I know you do some consulting, they may have some additional questions or want to find you online. If somebody does want to talk to you and learn a little bit more about maybe how you can help them, where can they find you?
Rich: Excellent. And we’ll make sure that we have those links in the show notes. Chris, thank you very much for your time, this was very enlightening.
Chris: Well I appreciate it Rich, and great talking with you.
- You can catch up with Chris and find out how he can help you implement better mobile technology for your business at his LinkedIn profile, or on Twitter.
- A few examples of loyalty platforms that Chris mentioned included:
- Rich Brooks is the President of Flyte New Media, a web design and marketing company. He is also the brains and brawn behind the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference, a prestigious gathering of some of today’s biggest thought leaders on the topics of search, social and mobile digital marketing.
- Transcription of this podcast provided by Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services.