LMG is driven by research

[This article appeared in a supplement to Strategy sponsored by Loyalty Management Group.]One of the characteristics of Loyalty Management Group Canada that contributes to the success of the air miles program is its strong customer focus.LMG has three constituencies - the...

[This article appeared in a supplement to Strategy sponsored by Loyalty Management Group.]

One of the characteristics of Loyalty Management Group Canada that contributes to the success of the air miles program is its strong customer focus.

LMG has three constituencies – the collectors, the sponsors, and its employees – and it does a number of things against all of those groups to stay in touch with the marketplace.

The company is intensely research-oriented.

Tracking studies are conducted after every flight of advertising, and focus groups are done on a number of programs from newsletters to its air miles collector summaries.

lmg has also started going right to its base of collectors for input.

‘We recently had a mailing that went out to our best collectors, and, in it, we included a questionnaire,’ says Claudio Rodrigues, LMG Canada marketing manager, advertising and promotions.

‘The Best Collector Survey asked a number of questions about themselves and the program,’ Rodrigues says.

‘What do they think about the program, and how can we make it better?’ he asks.

‘What categories, potentially, would they like us to add. What offers would they like us to add. What kind of bonuses.

‘We’re getting right at our collector base. We have tracking research that looks at the consumer universe in general, then we narrow down to our customer base with usage and attitude studies, now we’re getting down to a more personal relationship level with our customers.

‘Everyone who books a ticket and flies also gets a survey in their ticket jacket that asks if they were satisfied with the service, was booking the ticket easy, and do they plan to continue to collect air miles?

‘We’re getting feedback from these people, and we’re not just getting the questionnaires back, but we’re getting unsolicited testimonial letters.’

Another key to staying close to the collector is lmg’s customer service centre at Bay and Bloor streets in Toronto.

‘Our people talk to thousands of collectors everyday,’ says Craig Underwood, LMG Canada president.

‘The last Friday of every month, I have lunch with five customer service reps,’ Underwood says. ‘And for two hours we just talk.

‘I get feedback from them on the company and what the collector is saying. What can we change to make the program better for the collectors.

‘I’ve never once come out of one of those meetings without some specific ideas we could use to make the program better.

‘They’ve uncovered some problems we’ve had.

‘They’re our front line, a very important part of what we’re doing, they know what’s going on with the collectors.’

On the sponsor side, the company constantly monitors how the program is working for them and what areas need improvement.

‘We have quarterly advisory board meetings and invite all sponsors to come,’ Bryan Pearson, director, sponsor marketing, says. ‘We take them through what our marketing plans are, what the research is telling us, and then break into working groups.

‘In addition, we send out a quarterly feedback form that asks them to grade us on how we are doing. Are we providing the service you want, are we delivering the promotions you want,’ he says.

‘In fact, the results of those forms are built into our employee bonus plans.’

lmgc has a dedicated team of account managers who have weekly, if not daily, contact with the sponsors.

In addition to the air miles marketing advisory board, there are regional advisory boards because sponsors in different regions have different needs.

The Quebec advisory board has been in place since the beginning of the program and, now, plans are in place for a Western advisory board and a Maritime advisory board.

The final piece of the puzzle is lmgc staff.

Underwood says his greatest responsibility as company president is to keep people energized and to instill commitment, adding, that is done by sharing information.

‘We have more meetings than we should, but that’s one of the most effective ways to communicate,’ he says.

‘We also believe that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.

‘One of our innovations is to form cross-functional task forces to address issues that may arise. We’ve found that bringing other opinions to bear on an issue can often result in innovative solutions.

‘The other tool we use relentlessly is voice-mail.

‘We’re in such a fast-paced environment, and people are never in the same place at the same time, so, we find it essential to keep one another up to date by voice-mail.

‘It’s a great tool. I can send out a company-wide message informing people of new developments, or I can recognize an individual for outstanding work he or she is doing.

‘It also allows us to keep in touch at all times, even when we’re out of the office or on the road.’