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From Engagement & Experience Expo: AARP, Domino’s Keep Things Fresh for Customers

$html.esc($author.firstName) Allen By Kurt Allen on November 17, 2015

Delivering on consumers’ many and ever-increasing demands requires a commitment to constant improvement. For AARP, this meant a new loyalty program that fosters personal and goal-oriented interactions. And for Domino’s, it meant a deep focus on technology, e-commerce and, frankly, better pizza.


Even the biggest consumer brands in the world must keep freshening and re-examining every aspect of their operations so consumers stay engaged.

At the “Engagement & Experience Expo” in Dallas last week, industry leaders explored the customer journey, from creating personalized experiences to harnessing the power of big data to refining the relationship between online and off-line shopping. Of particular importance to the brands in attendance – from Bridgestone to Gold’s Gym to AT&T – are deepening the loyalty relationship with consumers and providing leading-edge digital experiences.

Here are insights on how two of those brands, AARP and Domino’s, keep their customer experience fresh:

Better CX, Slice by Slice

Domino’s has been part of the American culture for more than 50 years, but in 2010 it decided to rebrand and go digital in a big way, moving away from a pizza delivery with 30-minute service to an ecommerce company selling pizza. As a result, digital orders are now 50% of business, representing more than $2 billion in annual sales.

“It’s all about leveraging data and technology – used together they are the most powerful tool in building engagement strategies,” said Dennis Mahoney, Domino’s chief digital officer. He credits the Anyware platform – which lets customers order via text, tweet, smart TV, voice, car and smart watch – for much of the digital success.

Domino’s has been on a technology journey since 2010, expanding online ordering to multiple channels. “Customers are happier, spend more money and try a broader range of products when they order online,” Mahoney said.

The platform allows customers to save favorite orders and integrates voice and social media technology to use on demand. Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle has said, “It's the epitome of convenience; we've got this down to a five-second exchange.”

Indeed, improving convenience has been key to attracting more millennials – the coveted demographic of people born between 1981 and 1997 – through multichannel options.

Technology hasn’t been the only focus in the customer experience journey. Domino’s also took on product quality, admitting a few years ago that it needed better pizza and product range. It revamped its recipes and began offering wings, salads and hot sandwiches, although pizza is still its core item. Domino’s also invested in specialty cars for delivery, with vehicles without passenger seats for more efficiency and installation of ovens in the back seat to keep the pizza warm.

Domino's uses voice of the customer data to measure the results of this new e-commerce focus, and gathers feedback at every touchpoint from employees and consumers. Engagement tactics include a straightforward new loyalty program called Piece of the Pie, which awards 10 points for every order of $10, with a free pizza at 60 points.

The new focus seems to be working: One in four pizzas in the United States is delivered by Domino’s, Mahoney said. And the company is now ranked among the top 10 e-commerce companies in the country.

Out with the old, in with the new

AARP has nearly 40 million members and is one of the most recognizable brands in the United States, but the organization saw a need to build more loyalty with its customer base. Member surveys were showing key signs that there was a gap to close.

  • AARP website users saw little reason to register.
  • Time spent on the site was declining.
  • Engagement with AARP’s Social Mission program was lower than desired.

To address these issues, AARP created the Rewards for Good loyalty program, a first-of-its kind model that rewards members for engaging with exclusive tools and education platforms that deliver meaningful content to help members live better lives as they age. Rewards for Good offers points whether members belong to AARP or not, but members earn 50% more points as an incentive to join.

Nataki Edwards, vice president of digital strategy, said the program requires participants to take educational courses and complete activities to earn points. Each activity is tied to AARP’s Social Mission, which focuses on members living their best lives as they age.

Edwards said there are 5.6 million members in Rewards for Good, 1.1 million of whom are actively earning points; of those, 275,000 are redeeming, with 25% being repeat redeemers. There are hundreds of ways to earn points in support of the Social Mission program, and members can redeem points for local offers, travel and a variety of merchandise.

Personalized communications and target messaging are the basis of marketing to engage members, said Edwards, with three targets:

  • AARP members who have joined Rewards for Good vs. those who have not.
  • Points earned vs. never redeemed.
  • AARP member vs. non-AARP members.

Earning 50% more points as an AARP member has been a great driver of new memberships. Since the personalized communications campaigns, Edwards reported a 13% increase in Social Mission activities and a big jump in website engagement with the Rewards for Good website, from an initial low of 7% to a current login rate of 70%. Overall customer satisfaction has also improved to 74%.

Edwards presented results of a recent membership survey that shows an increase in AARP members’ awareness and education related to critical retirement issues that will impact their quality of lives – perfectly fitting the purpose of the Social Mission program.

For example:

48% say Rewards for Good has increased their knowledge of critical health issues.

39% are more educated about Social Security options.

31% say the program helped them save money in retirement planning.

26% report that diet and nutrition have improved their quality of life.

Although AARP has seen success in customer engagement, Edwards said there are still challenges to keep members engaged, particularly in the areas of: freshness of offers and communications; complexity of rules and rewards mechanisms; expectations of first-class, 24/7 service; and adherene to the Social Mission mandate.

Whether a business focuses on pizza, special-interest advocacy or widgets, there’s one thing that doesn’t change: A dynamic focus on great customer experience is the foundation for everything.

Meet The Author

Kurt Allen

As general manager, Kurt leads the teams responsible for editorial, marketing, customer experience, brand strategy, business development, events and public relations.

Kurt brings more than 20 years of experience in loyalty marketing, customer management, big data analytics, innovation and thought leadership through his senior executive leadership positions with Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, both in U.S. and international markets.  

Prior to joining COLLOQUY, Kurt served as group vice president of marketing and strategy at Gannett Co. U.S. Community Publishing Division. Past positions include senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Ameritas Corp., vice president of marketing and sales support at Allianz Group and head of international marketing and customer management with Royal & SunAlliance in London, England.

Kurt graduated from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management, Marketing, Organizational Behavior and Finance. Active in the community, he has held leadership roles with the International Red Cross and University of Southern California Alumni Association.

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