A Proper Welcoming Goes a Long Way

How to set up an onboarding experience that’s right for your program

Onboarding is an integral part of program communications, helping your brand show empathy and appreciation to its members at pivotal moments in their consumer journey. Onboarding doesn’t stop with welcoming new members into the program. Loyalty programs should be welcoming and educating members along their entire journey. For example, when achieving a new tier. Members need to be informed about what that means for them as a customer. We’ve identified three key stages of the onboarding experience that create a personal touch across the consumer lifecycle — each serving their own distinct purpose.

3 Stages of Onboarding

Welcome – the first few touchpoints help ensure that there is a sense of personalization and appreciation based on where the consumer is in their journey.

For new members, these initial touchpoints are typically the first time a member has truly interacted with the program, getting a sense of its value in their life, and most importantly making a positive impact from a brand perspective. It’s best to avoid information overload and gradually provide digestible pieces of content throughout their onboarding process.

For tier members, there is a sense of gratification for work put in when reaching a new level in a program. As a result, a program should show their appreciation, especially as these members tend to be high-value members that become your brand / program advocates. At this stage in their journey, it becomes about the little things that a loyalty program does to show its appreciation.

Data Mining – learning more about the member in small, bite-sized ways to create more informed, relevant content moving forward.

A few things to consider when seeking information about members at different stages of their journey is to ensure (1) you are asking questions that you can act on so that the member sees the benefit of having provided you with information about themselves; (2) this is done gradually and not as an overwhelming or laborious tactic; and (3) you strategically place these opportunities to learn about your members in moments that don’t interrupt their intended experience.

Since a program typically knows more about a tier member as the relationship has matured, these data-mining tactics open opportunities to hone in on snippets of information that will help enhance experiences and tailor content / offers.

Engagement – based on what we know about the customer, provide relevant content to a member (new or tier) that serves to resonate, educate and engage with them where they are in their onboarding journey.

This part of the onboarding experience is about the relevant output grounded in the data that has been gathered about the new members or tier members. For new members, content should educate them on the benefits that will allow them to experience the full potential of the program. For tier members, it means showing them how to reap the rewards and leverage their newly acquired status. It also means enhancing their experience with the brand and loyalty program. Possible ways to do this include using modeling to determine the next best offer that they would be likely to act on, offering credit card options that will help them get to rewards faster, gamification to try different partners or aspects of the program, or capturing preferences to deliver the best possible in-person experience.

Final Takeaways:

  1. When looking at humanizing loyalty, onboarding experiences should focus on driving empathy and appreciation of the new members and new tier members. Ask yourself, what would I want if I was this member, in their shoes.
  2. This should be an omnichannel approach. Email channel — although potentially the easiest to execute — is just the tip of the iceberg when developing a personalized, holistic onboarding experience. Consider how each of these different phases can come to life through all possible touchpoints: email, digital, social, in person, contact centers, etc.