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Loyalty360 Executive Spotlight: Kim Welther, Baesman



Loyalty360 met with Kim Welther, Vice President and General Manager, CRM & Loyalty at Baesman, to discuss how brands are reimagining their loyalty programs, emerging technologies, and the importance of adapting to changing customer needs. Baesman works with brands across industries to innovate their programs and build lasting relationships with customers.

Please tell us about your background, your role at Baesman, and what makes the company unique.
Welther: I've been with Baesman for over 12 years now and lead our CRM and Loyalty Agency division. In my former life, I was on the brand side and worked at Victoria's Secret for eight years. Baesman works with brands to help them better understand their customers and build more personalized relationships with them. We work to make the customer journey feel like a one-to-one experience. We have clients in retail, home services, healthcare, and more.

What do brands seek to achieve when they redesign their customer loyalty programs?
Welther: Brands want interactions with their customers that are more personal and not necessarily transactional. With customer loyalty program redesign, brands are focusing on benefits that live outside the transaction, beyond savings and rewards. Nordstrom does a great job of this with its anniversary sale, which shoppers get excited about. The savings are available to everyone, but Nordstrom gives its loyalty members early access to the sale. Members perceive this as a valuable benefit. Sephora is another brand that comes to mind. Members receive access to makeup tutorials and skin care routines. These are experiential benefits that add value to the program.

What should brands consider when relaunching their programs?
Welther: If you want a successful relaunch, you must communicate the new benefits to customers. The worst mistake a brand can make is putting resources into a relaunch and failing to effectively communicate how the changes will benefit members. Proper messaging and customer awareness are necessary for success.

Relaunches don’t always involve more benefits. Some brands have reduced benefits to make their programs more profitable. This is a risky strategy. A few big brands have done it successfully, but that doesn’t mean all brands can. We help clients understand the potential impact of pulling benefits. If you reduce the monetary or “hard” benefits, you must compensate with softer benefits like experiences. If you take away too much, your metrics will suffer, and it’s difficult to get them back.

Brands struggle to understand mutual benefit because it requires them to think like a customer. They must step outside their worldview to appreciate the needs and interests of customers — and that’s not easy.   
Welther: Even if you have an incredibly healthy loyalty program, pulling back on benefits can be dangerous. You must analyze the KPIs of the program and the brand itself to determine whether you can possibly take away benefits without damaging those metrics. You may discover you actually need to add benefits.

There's a focus right now on deeper personalization. Brands realize they need to scale personalization across all channels, not just in emails or with a few product recommendations. Is this a challenge for brands?  
Welther: Personalization at scale is indeed a challenge because it requires intense customer segmentation. Our clients are successful when they deliver the right message in the right channel to the right person. Some brands pick a delivery channel based on cost. When you look at a customer at the individual level, you might find they’re not opening emails or responding to texts. They only respond to direct mail, which happens to be a more expensive marketing channel. When you invest in identifying and delivering in the right channel, you’re doing the right thing for that customer. That’s what customer-centric marketing is all about, and some brands do it very well.

What role will technology play in the loyalty landscape in the coming year?
Welther: I see brands continuing to dismantle the silos between technology and marketing. Some brands have already abolished those silos and are leading with a customer-first strategy, which means identifying the best experience for the customer — and working from there to deliver it. When this becomes your brand strategy, marketing and technology are guided by the same principle. They’re focused on the same end goal: doing waht's right for the customer.

How can loyalty marketers keep the customer perspective in focus?
Welther: You must become the customer. Shop every channel and see the loyalty experience for yourself. Make sure it feels seamless. Ease of use is a pillar of customer loyalty. As I mentioned earlier, the benefits must be clearly communicated, but they must also be easy to use. Obstacles to using benefits and redeeming rewards lead to loss of engagement. If you want to improve program metrics, make sure the customer experience is spot-on, and then you can make further adjustments as necessary.

If you could give only one piece of advice about relaunching a loyalty program, what would it be?   
Welther: Loyalty marketing is not a set-and-forget pursuit. Customers evolve and so do their loyalties. When your program relaunches, it may feel like the hard work is behind you, but that’s when it really begins. Don’t assume the relaunch will go as predicted. Always keep your finger on the pulse and be ready to adjust.  

What advice have you received that’s made a real impact on your thinking?  
Welther: Loyalty is not a channel but a brand strategy. Customer loyalty and experience must be top-of-mind as you steward your brand.

What book do you recommend we all read?
Welther: The 6 Types of Working Genius, by Patrick Lencioni. It just came out, and I’m obsessed with it right now. Lencioni helps you understand your working gifts and your working frustrations. The book has been a gamechanger for me and my team.  

Very few schools teach customer loyalty. Could you give some words of wisdom to those just starting out in the industry?
Welther: Envision yourself as both the customer and customer advocate.

Quick-fire Questions:

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?

Not statistically significant.

What excites you?


What do you find tiresome?

Expense reports.

What is your favorite hobby?

Reading for pleasure.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


What profession would you avoid?


Who inspired you to become the person you are today?

My father.

What do you typically think about at the end of the day?

Travel and sports.

How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family?



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