Migrating a complex, enterprise-level loyalty platform can be an overwhelming, lengthy, and costly process, deterring—or at least postponing—many large travel brands from re-platforming and updating their loyalty technology and supporting ecosystem sooner. However, despite the massive undertaking a large migration like this entails, staying on a legacy system can hinder your company’s top- and bottom-line growth. And it can put your customer relationships at risk due to an ineffective customer journey. The patchwork of integrations and ongoing maintenance of legacy systems alone comes with a large price tag, but couple that with undesirable loyalty and member experiences, and your most valued customers may start to look enviously at what your competitors deliver.
From start to finish, migrating an enterprise-level loyalty platform requires careful planning, risk mitigation, and agility due to the complex discovery, agile planning, roadmapping, data strategy, and integration steps involved. To avoid common migration pitfalls, consider these four keys to seamless loyalty solutions platform migration.
1. A clear, actionable data strategy is paramount.
Across every level of the organization—from front-line staff to operations and marketing—data fuels the customer experience and is the most important element of a loyalty program. It follows, then, that you should start with a data migration plan and strategy. You will need to understand not only how and where the data is flowing in, but when to activate that data across each touchpoint during the customer journey to enhance and deliver the experiences that today’s members and guests expect from the outset. To do this effectively, identify their relevant data profiles in the planning stage and keep the data intact all the way to their departure from the property and beyond. Companies need to leverage the right data without abusing their customers’ privacy, which can be a tricky line to walk—but, done well, it can strengthen the bond between consumer and brand.
Understand the basics, such as their profile, point balance, preferences, earned value, and even data on the last years’ worth of travel and non-travel transactional data. Not only must the data be accessible, but it must also be accurate and available in real-time. Having inaccurate or incomplete member profiles can lead to issues for the guest, resulting in negative reviews and poor brand recognition. Avoid this by completing a data audit—ensuring every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. Additionally, know how your data is stored, whether in a data warehouse or data lake, and have a plan to move that data as early as possible in the migration process.
2. Put the customer first.
With all the moving pieces of an enterprise-level migration, it can sometimes feel like the customer gets lost in the mix, pushed to the bottom of the priority list instead of rising to the top. Brands must continue to prioritize the customer experience (CX), both before, during, and after the re-platforming, which means clear and open lines of communication during the system change.
Even when things are changing for the better, they are still changing, and your customers and loyalty members of all tiers and segments need to know how to proceed, and more importantly, what to expect. For example, if on the previous platform the member experience would display points required for redemption during a search on the front end, but now on the new system points are added only during payment for the reservation, your consumers may not understand how to apply or redeem their points properly, leading to a negative customer experience. Your responsibility? Do more than sending out lengthy emails about the changes; instead focus on providing contextual, in-the-moment experiences for your customers. Staff on all levels, from customer service representatives to operations and on-property front-line staff, must also be aware of and fluent in these changes so they can help guide customers along their respective journeys. This will help ensure that your internal and external stakeholders are informed about any changes and know the appropriate steps to take, which in turn can help reduce any migration-related CX challenges.
3. Understand your ecosystem.
Change on an enterprise level can be time-consuming, costly, and colossal in nature. To mitigate unforeseen challenges, it’s essential to have a complete view of your organization’s technology and platforms ecosystem ahead of time. How do you build this view? Start by understanding what will be changing across the organization, and which parts of the ecosystem will be affected by a migration of this scale. Although loyalty is primarily a marketing objective, a re-platforming of loyalty solutions can touch many groups—your mobile app team, web team, social media, operations, front-line staff, finance, customer care, and more. Knowing which aspects of the system will change from an operations perspective and training those employees adequately can help squash problems before they occur.
In addition, remember to perform field testing on UX changes. Running these tests ahead of time can dramatically reduce UX problems when the system is fully live. But like in any project, things will come up that are unexpected. As the situation adapts and changes (as it inevitably will), you can respond with agility and efficiency when you understand the full enterprise roadmap and leverage agile delivery methodologies to meet the moment.
4. Lean on your loyalty technology partner’s expertise.
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do when embarking on an enterprise-level loyalty platform migration is to keep open lines of communication—within the organization, with the customer, and with your technology partner. A strong loyalty technology provider will have deep expertise in many of the key areas outlined above, which will allow them to help you achieve an on-time and seamless launch—even if your organization has not conducted the appropriate level of due diligence.
For example, partner integration can often become a major challenge to staying within implementation timelines as well as avoiding scope creep, adding time and cost to the effort. Loyalty programs at the enterprise level can often require anywhere from 50-200 integration partners, and while the organization may have only integrated with those partners once or twice, partners typically have experience integrating often and can play a pivotal consultative role, from both a marketing strategy and technology standpoint. Your loyalty technology provider can also step in and aid in overall strategic business consulting, lend expertise in change management and enterprise architecture, and bridge all of your communications to deliver a successful implementation and launch. All of this, taken together, can add up to a successful enterprise loyalty migration.
Overall, understanding your ecosystem as a whole and having a solid plan in place that is executed with agile methodologies is best practice for a seamless migration. Layer that with open lines of communication, a great relationship with your vendor, and the ability to respond to complex problems with agility, and you can deliver a thoughtful, customer-first, and seamless migration.