Guest post: putting the customer first with Harlequin

Lucy Scinocca, Director of Loyalty and Customer Insight at Harlequin Enterprises, knows a thing or two about putting the consumer first. She's provided us with a guest blog today on who exactly the Harlequin reader is and how that informed the development of their customer loyalty program. This is just a teaser, though! Lucy will be delving deep into the data of romance at Tech Forum 2016.

When developing any new digital platform, there are always many stakeholder needs to consider. But when developing a digital loyalty platform, the customers’ needs are king (or queen, in Harlequin’s case). Her needs and wants become le raison d’etre, leraison de faire. Every decision during the development process is dependent on how it will best serve the customer, if it will derive the most value for her.

To develop a successful loyalty program we leveraged our consumer research knowledge to guide our decision-making process. We wanted to ensure the program reflected who our consumer is, what her values are, and what values she derives from reading a Harlequin book. We knew from previous consumer research that she has traditional family values, she is busy taking care of others—leaving very little time for herself—and she is a value conscious consumer. She loves Harlequin because it brings her joy and optimism in a world where happy endings don’t always exist. We also knew that she was one of the first adopters of e-readers, so she is open to trying new technologies. The program needed to mirror and reinforce these core values.

We also wanted to ensure the program addressed the main pain points she encounters in her reading life. With vast amounts of editorial now available through e-readers and self-published titles, Harlequin readers have more books to choose from than ever before. How does she make the right choice for herself without investing a lot of time through search and discovery? We also knew that through her consumption of ebooks she was missing a sense of belonging: who can she share her newfound treasure with? By having a clear understanding of her pain points, we could then begin identifying ways on how to best approach solutions through the loyalty platform.

By taking a customer-centric approach, we ensured that the right elements were considered throughout our development process. By placing her needs first, we were able to change the question from "How do we get customers to be loyal?" to "How are we loyal to our customers?" And happy endings can be realized when we are loyal to her.

Lucy will be going in-depth about the building of Harlequin's loyalty program and the Harlequin reader at Tech Forum 2016 during her panel, Harlequin's MyRewards Program: One year building brand ambassadorsTime is running out to register though, so make sure you do so by March 15.