Where is the intersection of Blockchain Technology and Customer Loyalty?

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By: Bill Hanifin, CLMP™ |

Posted on April 5, 2018

Barely a day goes by without mention of how Blockchain technology is going to revolutionize customer loyalty marketing. I read the promises of several new loyalty technology providers based on Blockchain and listen to podcasts from "experts" who frame their perspective with a sense of urgency to not just understand Blockchain, but to hurry up and adopt it.  

By Bill Hanifin

With so much attention and focus on finding the intersection of Blockchain and Customer Loyalty, The Wise Marketer made an editorial commitment to solve the Blockchain riddle for the customer engagement and loyalty industry. To that end, we'll publish articles on a consistent basis to help stimulate the conversations needed to reach clarity on where the real solutions exist, not just where the newly funded Blockchain providers tell us they should be.

The starting line of this discussion is formed by what we have learned from several sources. While attending the Loyalty Academy Conference in Boca Raton, FL last week, I benefited from solid perspectives shared by a Blockchain panel. Working on a 2018 Trends presentation for the CSP Loyalty Forum last week, I dug into how Blockchain would impact loyalty marketing a little deeper. And this week, a friend shared an article published in the Harvard Business Review titled "Blockchain Will Transform Customer Loyalty programs". The article was published in March 2017 and the list of perceived pain points in loyalty marketing that can be solved by Blockchain technology hit the high points of what is being discussed one year later.

Shifting through the wisdom gleaned from these sources, there is a general assertion that loyalty marketing is due for transformation. To use a popular term, it's an industry prime for "disruption". We can't argue with this idea as we coined the Loyalty Revolution as the theme of our recent Loyalty Academy Conference. We have also landed on a clear list of perceived pain points for loyalty marketing that are proposed to be solved through the adoption of Blockchain:

  1. The overall appeal of loyalty programs will somehow improve, healing the "one size fits all" flaw witnessed in many programs
  2. The complex rules structures that plagues brands by confusing members and limiting participation can be solved
  3. Creating an online exchange of multiple loyalty currencies would benefit members through increased liquidity and higher value
  4. Partnerships between brands with loyalty programs would be easier to create and maintain
  5. Brands and consumers will benefit from higher security of their data and program equity.
  6. The cost to operate loyalty programs will be reduced

We will dissect each of these perceived points-of-pain over the coming weeks. Look for interviews with industry executives and fact-based conclusions based on our unbiased research to amplify our thoughts. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this perspective.

If I am convinced of anything about technology, it is that the human race has proven a amazing ability to create new stuff. Every day we read about devices, software, networks, and products that have the potential to change the way we live. The trouble is, our ability to invent this "stuff" is out-pacing our ability to cope with it. The fundamental source of societal struggle for people and governments today is tied to the "over-adoption" of technology.

Don't misinterpret the message here. I embrace change and expect life to be a source of constant change. I'm also a technology fan. The important take-away here is that we need to execute well for our customers and therefore our systems, communications, and programs must WORK.  The challenge is to refine the art of pacing. We need to push the envelope of innovation while keeping an eye on our ability as businesses to apply the innovations to help, not hurt our customers. Falling in love with the "next new thing" has been the root cause of many of the hot topics today in social media and customer marketing. The growing backlash against Facebook and its data leaks, and the evolution of coping skills with mobile devices are just two examples.

Our goal in pursuing a solution to the Blockchain / Customer Loyalty is to maximize the value of Blockchain for brands and solution providers in the industry. If we are as helpful as we hope to be, we'll unlock new potential and also possibly save some of you millions of dollars investing in a solution that is not yet needed, or just off-target.

Stay tuned and stay informed.

Bill Hanifin is CEO of The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).