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Customer identity management drives loyalty program success

When done right, a rewards program can establish strong connections with customers, cultivate brand loyalty and even drive sales. A 2017 MIT Sloan Management Review study revealed that companies with high-performing rewards programs were more likely to have customers who were willing to pay more for that brand and who intended to increase the amount and frequency of their spending with that business.

Reaching that level of loyalty program performance isn't as simple as offering monthly promotions and limited-time deals to mobile users. It takes personalized engagement, a unified rewards program interface and enterprise-level scalability. In short, it takes customer identity management.

Where rewards program challenges emerge

Brands understand the importance of a robust customer loyalty program, but often get tripped up on the execution. For instance, according to a 2017 Forrester Research survey, only 55 percent of brands personalized their content, offers, and overall experiences provided by their customer loyalty programs. Making matters worse: only 35 percent managed customer data from multiple sources to fuel their rewards program efforts.

Even organizations that do manage to bring in lots of data from a wide range of sources, struggle to leverage it in actionable ways. The same Forrester study discovered that a mere 45 percent of brands use information regarding customer preferences to inform their rewards program efforts, such as which offers are presented to specific users and how companies communicate and interact with different individuals.

Other common obstacles brands might encounter include poor user experience, impenetrable data silos and the inability to scale up rewards programs to keep up with customer demand.

If you're not capitalizing on the inherent benefits that a rewards program offers, you're letting a golden opportunity to drive engagement slip through fingers. Consider this: According to Forrester Research, loyalty program members are among the most valuable customers a brand can have. They typically spend more, demonstrate higher levels of brand attachment and are your best bet for cultivating a life-long devoted customer base.

Customer IAM: The missing ingredient to loyalty program success

Customer identity is the key to unlocking the real potential of loyalty programs. In particular, customer identity management solutions help bulldoze rewards program roadblocks and create a truly one-of-a-kind, personalized experience for users.

Creating a consistent customer experience across multiple touch points, including mobile, online and in-store is flat-out impossible without a customer IAM solution for loyalty programs. Realizing that the person updating their online account profile with specific product preferences is the same individual making purchases over a mobile app becomes a lot easier with CIAM keeping everything straight.

Due to data silos, many companies have difficulty drawing those connections between two disparate channels, much less reliably recognizing a specific customer across every single touchpoint in their omnichannel ecosystem. Their customers may even have multiple rewards program accounts, making matters even more confusing.

That kind of fracturing between different portals can be especially frustrating for customers, who may have trouble accessing their accounts depending on what device or interface they use. CIAM uses solutions like social login and single sign-on to make life easier for your customers and remove obstacles to engagement.

With rewards programs, your brand can achieve a true 360-degree view of their customers - but you'll need customer identity management tools to ensure you can recognize your customers wherever they happen to go.

What a CIAM-driven rewards program turnaround looks like

Even the best, most forward-thinking companies can stumble when it comes to cutting-edge loyalty programs. One of our multi-national retail clients experienced a great deal of friction with its rewards program due to an uneven user experience.

For example, each one of its rewards program platforms -- mobile app, website, etc. -- required users to create a distinct account and profile for that interface. Customers held multiple accounts for the same loyalty program with the same brand, preventing the brand from capturing a complete view of its user base.

Without that 360-degree visibility into customer behavior and preferences, any attempt at personalizing engagement would always be inherently flawed. The brand would always be working off of an incomplete picture of its clientele.

Our customer identity management solution considerably streamlined our client's rewards program platform to remove complexity and enhance the overall customer experience. For instance, through the Akamai Identity Cloud, our team implemented single sign-on capabilities to enable users to quickly and easily access their accounts across all of the brand's mobile and web-based applications.

The Akamai Identity Cloud also effectively removed lingering data silos and provided a centralized repository for customer information. And it seamlessly integrated with a variety of third-party analytics and automation tools to provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behavior that can be leveraged for personalization and engagement campaigns.

By taking advantage of customer identity management software, our client is continuing to build strong, long-lasting relationships with its most dedicated customers.