To really know a customer — everything from their preferred products to how they want to be rewarded when using a customer rewards card — companies must closely track the data that they’re provided, generally through a loyalty program. In turn, it can influence how a retailer runs their business, and what products they choose to carry. This is something Michael Poyser, Vice President of analytics with Aimia, says retailers are increasingly getting better at doing.

“If you’re a retailer with millions of customers, it’s impossible for you to be able to talk to the customer every single day and understand them really well unless you use the data,” he says. “The data enables you to get back to being a small retailer and making business personal.”

Using technology to anadvantage

Data hasn’t always been easy to collect and store. “The cost of technology has continued to go down, enabling loyalty programs to store all of the data we have, which then enables us to improve the experience for customers and treat them in a one-on-one way,” says Poyser.

Engaging users firsthand

While Aeroplan engages with their customers in several technological platforms like SMS and a mobile app, it still maintains an advisory panel of members to which the company can refer when seeking program improvements. That way, they can get feedback firsthand. “We can regularly survey them with questions about their behaviours and the program, but also use it as a sounding board for new products and innovations,” says Chris Willoughby, General Manager of brand and member marketing with Aeroplan. “We can very quickly go to our members and say, “What do you think of this? Would it be more    likely to get you to engage with the program?”

Steve Tyers, Vice President of card product management at CIBC, says in order to cater to clients, it’s key to consistently deliver innovation when it comes to both rewards and usability.

“As smartphones have become lifestyle devices for Canadians, it’s important to invest in innovations like mobile banking, mobile payments, and eDeposit, which allows clients to deposit a cheque simply by taking a picture of it with their smartphone.”

Informing the client experience

Stephen Scott, Senior Manager of loyalty innovation strategy at RBC Rewards, says they’re starting to see people use data to inform the client experience in a bigger way.

“We’re trying to make things more relevant to the consumer,” he says. “If they’re relevant, there’s a good chance they’re going to take advantage of an offer because it’s probably something that they’re interested in and is meaningful to the client.”

Scott says data will continue to be used to inform consumer interactions.“We’re going to interact with you in a much more meaningful way, where we’re learning about your preferences, goals, and aspirations so we can create relevant content and relevant rewards,” he says.

The bottom line is that customers who use loyalty and rewards programs can look forward to even better payoffs, thanks to technology that tracks exactly how they want to be rewarded.