Many companies plan to enter the new customer reality of 2020 equipped with a customer loyalty program. But even if the technology is great, arriving unprepared for the first concept meeting can delay the launch for months. This article illustrates why choosing a loyalty program provider through a loyalty program RFP process is actually a sign of readiness, and can help you launch more quickly and easily.
What Is a Loyalty Program RFP?
An RFP, or request for proposal, is a type of business document that helps companies share the details about a project, in this case, the launch or revamp of a customer loyalty program. The primary goal of a loyalty program RFP is to solicit proposals from various vendors.
A request for proposal is more than just a way to compare providers, though. Deciding to issue an RFP process requires an initial investment from the company, both time and resource-wise. The organization has to do the research, validate their concept and program objectives, and craft a list of questions. But in the long run, this approach undoubtedly leads to better results.
Launching and managing a next-gen loyalty program is an important milestone for every company. For an in-depth look into the process, check out our webinar with Salesforce.
How to Write an All-Encompassing Loyalty Program RFP?
There’s no standardized template for writing an RFP because each companies has its own needs and priorities. Nevertheless, we’ve picked out a few key details and best practices from our experience working with loyalty program RFPs.
Always start by explaining the rules
- It’s beneficial for the vendor to receive a brief overview of your company and the overarching goals of the planned loyalty program, so they have context for the project.
- Include the scope of the project, with an emphasis on the most important aspects of the program, the channels that the loyalty program will focus on, preferred features, or even some of the business KPIs your company is prioritizing.
- If possible, add a detailed evaluation process as well. Most companies only share the submission deadline, but if you are able to disclose additional decision deadlines and other important milestones, it’s a helpful indicator for participating providers.
Design the Questionnaire Around the Expected Solution
The questions included in the request for proposal are entirely up to you. Still, if you don’t know how to start designing a questionnaire, here are the three types of categories most companies tend to fall into.
- Some organizations already have a loyalty program, which they wish to upgrade. In this case, companies are looking for a flexible, easy-to-integrate solution. The best course of action is to include all your existing loyalty program rules, coupled with the new features, and ask participating providers up-front whether they can deliver on each action item.
- Other companies tend to put a high-level concept into the RFP and then ask the participating vendors to express how they would deliver it. This can be a valid strategy for both new program launches and upgraded programs. In this case, vendors will generally respond with a lengthier pitch that demonstrates the capabilities of their technology and provides inspiration.
- The last category is for brands and retailers who require strategic support for the loyalty program. In most cases, this applies to organizations that plan to launch a reward program for the first time. These companies get the best results when they refer to other existing programs or features they wish to have in their own program.
The More Credentials You Ask For, the Better
- When auditing a vendor, ask for samples of their previous work. In addition to case studies and use cases, you can also ask for a team profile or bios of the people you’ll be working with.
- Clearly state what kind of tech documentation and certifications you expect to receive, and make a distinction between must-haves and good-to-haves.
- Proof of the vendor’s integration portfolio is another important aspect.
- If the solution requires the involvement of a partner, then ask for the partnership credentials as well.
5 Reasons Why a Loyalty Program RFP Could Benefit You
Reason #1: The vendor selection is quicker
When you enter an RFP process, chances are high you have already defined your core needs regarding the features and technology. This can drastically reduce the amount of time required to pick the most suitable vendor.
For example, knowing that you wish to run the reward program internally (with your own team) means that you’ll only require the technology platform and nothing else. This realization narrows down the prospects because you only need to look for pure-play vendors, as the service of an LMS provider would be redundant.
Reason #2: No need for additional consultation
Initially, preparing a loyalty program RFP might be an additional expense. In truth, it’s more like an investment. The more time and energy you spend on it, the more time and resources you can save while consulting with your loyalty program vendors.
Since your loyalty program provider was effectively vetted during the RFP process, everyone will be on the same page when it comes to expectations and proposed solutions. Without an RFP, reaching the same conclusion would require plenty of back-and-forth calls and meetings. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can eliminate meetings altogether, but the process of finalizing the loyalty program roadmap should be much smoother.
Reason #3: Less complicated validation process
The loyalty program RFP you create serves as a checklist — both figuratively and literally. It’s a list of action items that the end product should check off. Furthermore, it’s a ledger of expectations approved by the board of directors. A consensus like that can speed things up considerably during the later phases of loyalty program design.
When higher-ups are already familiar with the core concept and preferred outcome, the final decision regarding the loyalty program vendor or other aspects of the loyalty program will happen much sooner. And saving time on executive decision-making can be invaluable. In many cases, loyalty program launches are planned to coincide with major retail holidays, such as Christmas or Black Friday. However, without prior agreement, the launch is more likely to miss the deadline because of a prolonged validation phase.
Reason #4: Less chance of going over budget
Having the loyalty program validated internally also means that you can more accurately budget the whole project. Whether you already have a loyalty program or wish to craft one from the ground up, avoiding to overspend is more important than ever.
The loyalty program RFP process supports companies as they estimate their costs in detail, and will play an important role in negotiating a contract with the RFP winner, your loyalty program vendor.
Reason #5: Easier scoping
Later, when you have your budget, a vendor, and a finalized contract, your loyalty program RFP will continue to provide benefits. The RFP can play a central role in tech discovery, laying down the foundation for the software architecture. Plus, scoping reward lists will be smoother.
Thanks to a quicker scoping process, the loyalty program provider will be able to start working on the product sooner, keeping you on track to meet key deadlines. In the end, the work you put into the initial vetting document means you’ll have a higher likelihood of staying on track and on saving your resources.
We Always Welcome Your RFP
With that being said, it’s time to let you go, so you can start planning the RFP for your own rewards program project. In case you need additional help with research, we offer numerous industry-related guides, as well as a downloadable comparison worksheet that may come in handy in the vendor selection process.
And, if you’re interested in having Antavo participate in your RFP, reach out here.