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  • USA Today

A Book Before You Leap

The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information into Customer Intimacy, Encapsulates 20 Years of Insights from Loyalty Industry Leader

For many people, sharing personal information with a merchant, bank or airline is a simple by-product of being a consumer today. With every swipe of the loyalty card, we know that someone, somewhere, is tracking our purchases.

But behind the scenes at these companies, customer data means more than knowing who owns a cat and who owns a dog. It is the raw material that feeds their company marketing strategies, and ideally, enables them to leap from mere customer acquisition to long-term customer loyalty.

Getting there takes a good amount of research, though. And this has led to a lot of discussion, as well as some angst, about the ways in which consumer data is gathered, used and protected. Thirty-two percent of North American consumers say that they have been notified that their information has been stolen or compromised, according to LoyaltyOne, one of the largest loyalty companies on the globe and operator of Canada’s popular AIR MILES program, which counts 10 million members.

So perhaps there are few people better positioned than LoyalyOne president, Bryan Pearson, to write a book about the importance of responsibly using consumer data in today’s marketplace. The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information into Customer Intimacy, is due out in May 2012.

In The Loyalty Leap Pearson draws on more than 20 years of first-hand experience in building emotional loyalty in an information age, with insightful stories from the trenches of the data-gathering and marketing communications fields.

“I remember when merchants did not understand the value of customer data. They needed to be convinced of how it could help them better serve consumers in relevant ways,” Pearson said. “Fast forward to today’s marketplace and we have customers who jealously guard their privacy, yet also demand that all their unique needs be met. And the more advanced our capabilities, the more refined consumers’ expectations.”

Pearson says companies such as LoyaltyOne make the loyalty leap by understanding their customers’ needs, respecting their privacy, and having the tools in place to accomplish all of this. He has the numbers to back it up: of AIR MILES 10 million members, 99.99% willingly share their personal information with the company and opt to let it contact them on a regular basis.

The Loyalty Leap comes at a critical time in American politics, when legislators are considering new laws to protect and curb the use of consumer data. Included in Pearson’s book, along with scores of firsthand corporate stories, are the results from an extensive, 2011 consumer survey that provides a snapshot of the North American consumer’s attitudes about privacy and the use of personal information for business purposes.

“From the very beginning we were absolutely focused on finding the right balance between the needs of our clients and those of our shared customers,” Pearson said. “My goal in this book is to explain not only how we build trust with consumers, but also to shed light on how consumer data itself is the next frontier in strategic differentiation.”

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