ALPHARETTA, GA—Voice-activated assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and the like are a growing technological trend. Shouting “Hey, Siri!” or “Alexa!” aren’t just calls to action, they’re part of a broader effort to streamline daily tasks. Take keeping track of loyalty rewards, for example—there’s a solution for that.
Bridge2 Solutions, based here, is touting the first voice-activated experience for rewards programs that is compatible with multiple virtual assistants, according to the company. With Points Pal, reward members simply say “Open Points Pal” to any number of voice-recognition programs—Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana—to access and interact with their rewards information.
“Points Pal came out of our innovation team that constantly looks at new technology trends and evaluates ideas through an internal Shark Tank-like vetting process. We saw a huge opportunity as Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft upped their investments in making digital assistants smarter,” said Larry Wine, chief commercial officer, Bridge2 Solutions. “Our deep and broad experience with integrations to enhance the capabilities of reward redemption for loyalty programs aligned very well with creating a new and unique reward redemption experience with these enhanced digital assistant capabilities.”
The need in the marketplace came from both large consumer companies managing rewards programs and consumers, noted Wine. “Reward program sponsors need to drive loyalty, and data shows that members who redeem points with regular frequency are the most engaged and loyal as well as drive the most revenue,” he said. “From a consumer perspective, the biggest gap in current programs is the friction that currently exists to redeem points for rewards. Points Pal facilitates the redemption process, making it easier for reward members to feel rewarded and exhibit engagement behaviors.”
Wine shared an example of one of Points Pal’s many features: “The Points Pal rewards platform allows a loyalty participant to place items of a wish list with the click of a button,” he explained. “With digital assistant-based capabilities, users can ask the virtual assistant to keep track of the price of items in their wish list and their rewards as they earn them. When they want to order something from this wish list, one voice command does the trick and even provides them with shipping updates. With visually enhanced versions like Amazon Echo Show, this becomes even easier.”
In addition to displaying point balances, additional features of Points Pal include answering questions about past purchases and keeping track of wish list items.
“It can even remind you of prior items that you looked at and saved as potential gifts for a special occasion like your daughter’s birthday, and lets you order, gift wrap, engrave and ship one of those options—all with voice commands,” he said. “These are just a few examples; there is a plethora of use cases that are enabled by this convergence of intelligent digital assistants and a world-class loyalty commerce platform.”
Points Pal is building upon the virtual assistant concept with Bridge2 Solutions’ existing integrations that include close to 50 merchants and 10 million unique SKUs in order to deliver compelling rewards redemption use cases and facilitate more frequent redemptions.
“Today’s consumers are savvy. They expect the same user experience and the latest technologies across all channels and across all payment vehicles. They also expect to be rewarded and recognized for their loyalty,” he said. “Points Pal delivers on both of these expectations for consumers. App components will be created by our customers to enable Points Pal as a capability within their apps that also leverage digital assistance. We design our capabilities to be stand-alone, as well as pluggable.”
Currently, the capability within Points Pal is designed to be at consumers’ homes, offices, etc. However, Wine has already received a lot of interest from the company’s partners in the travel space to enable this in the field in order to improve the rewards redemption options while a loyalty participant is traveling.
“The prevailing options for shipping rewards while on a flight, cruise, drive or at a hotel simply don’t create any marketing opportunities for providers in this space; Points Pal can change that,” he said.