Bill Hanifin

CEO, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Bill Hanifin brings over 25 years experience encompassing customer centric marketing, payment systems, and corporate banking to benefit the clients he serves. Bill has concentrated on developing and implementing Customer Strategies designed to address a range of business objectives from account acquisition and sales performance to improved customer retention and increased share of wallet and brand preference.

Bill has worked with companies in the airline, banking, hotel, retail, telecom, and business services sectors providing a range of services including Strategic Marketing Plans, Project Management, Financial Measurement, and Operational Solutions. A partial Client list includes American Express, BBVA Bancomer, Banco BHD, FirstCaribbean Int’l Bank, Grupo Posadas (largest hotel chain in Mexico), JM Associates Federal Credit Union, LaQuinta Inns, Scotiabank, Visa, and

Bill is a Founding Member of the Customer Strategy Network, a global network of independent relationship and loyalty marketing practitioners. He authors Loyalty Truth, a blog covering all aspects of Customer Centric marketing, and serves as North American Contributing Editor for The Wise Marketer, a global publication covering the loyalty marketing industry.

Bill is an accomplished speaker and trainer and is a requested presenter at industry trade conferences sponsored by Airline Information, SourceMedia, the Direct Marketing Association, Visa, Loyalty 360, and the Institute for International Research. He has led public and privately organized workshops in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, EU, and Asia Pacific regions.

Bill is a prolific writer on the subjects of Millennial, Loyalty, and Relationship marketing. In addition to his blog Loyalty Truth, his articles and quotes have been published in American Banker, Colloquy, Cards & Payments, Card Technology,, DM News, Fox, Smart Money, and

  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    What customer service lessons can be learned from United Airlines?

    So much has been said about this incident that I want to take a different perspective. The airlines should not be compared to "retail" or any other vertical market when assessing customer service issues.Why? Because in our post 9-11 world, airline travel has become a quasi-militarized business. Governmental oversight to manage potential terrorist activity has given more power than is customary in dealing with its customers.In the past, an inebriated traveler may run the risk of being asked to deplane should they be rude to the cabin crew. Today, the flight crews seem to be swelled up with their sense of control over their passengers. Buying a seat means nothing to the airlines relative to our behavior on board. I would go so far as to say that travelers are "flying scared," meaning they can be deplaned and then added surreptitiously to a TSA black list.The changes needed in the airline industry are more fundamental and systemic than encountered by most retailers.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    The admired and celebrated business model of leveraging the supply chain to lower costs and deliver value to customers is core to Walmart's success. That said, there can only be a very limited number of players per category who can successfully play this game.Walmart can continue to lower prices and presumably much of this will be accomplished at the expense of suppliers. This business model has limitations in the long run as suppliers increasingly become begrudged captives to the big retailer while they struggle to return acceptable financial results to their own stakeholders.Kroger is wise to be "doubling down on the customer experience." That is a place where Kroger can carve out a clear advantage, as Walmart struggles to make its store a "great place to shop." Cheap, yes -- great experience, well.Price competition usually ends badly for all but the category leader. The rest of the grocery market is wise to pursue alternate avenues to garner the attention of consumers.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    What’s needed beyond KPIs?

    Most marketers we talk with have already adopted the approaches advocated in the article. Very few people would rely on a standalone number without applying context from the business.I find the key elements of measurement plans that are core to successful adoption are to make sure the selection of measures are optimal to support objectives, accuracy is ensured and the output can be presented to clearly communicate a story about the business to stakeholders.Checking off these items builds confidence in the measurement plan and facilitates decision making. Data analytics has always been about interpreting the numbers to create valuable insights that can be implemented for results.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    Are Millennials and Gen Z more about convenience or price when they shop?

    The transformation that is highlighted in the article will increasingly establish the mobile channel as the favorite means of shopping for Generation Y and Generation Z, whether the purchase is made online or the channel is used to research prior to a brick-and-mortar purchase. As use of the mobile channel becomes more prevalent with all consumers, other factors such as price will rise in importance.At the moment, retailers can use their mobile apps and mobile websites to deliver "packaged loyalty" to customers. The way Amazon packages it's growing set of benefits for Prime members, convenience and value is the overall message delivered to its members.As this approach to retailing is more widely adopted, the packaged set of benefits may be treated as "must-haves" and consumers will turn attention to other factors to make purchase decisions.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?

    Health care continues to emphasize "self-care" and most insurance providers, retailers and providers to the health care industry have recognized that focusing on wellness can lower overall costs in the long-term. Consumers who seek to engage in wellness behaviors are bombarded with information that is often conflicting and confusing. Too much information may cause consumers to disengage from the wellness process.CVS's decision to include these information-centric display zones can help establish more trust between consumer and retailer. It also addresses the very personal nature of health care. Consumers generally prefer to research certain conditions with a level of privacy.This new approach by CVS not only affords a level of privacy and personalization, but also presents a sustainable approach that transcends the high turnover of employees in their stores.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Can McD’s succeed with commercials that don’t mention its name?

    If you caught the segment on the subject of brain hacking on CBS 60 minutes two weeks ago, you might say that a significant portion of viewers of this ad will compulsively whip out their phones and start playing along with the Google search game. The question is, what portion of that audience will engage?It's long overdue that we stop referring to all young consumers as Millennials. The group we studied in 2005 is now 12 years older. Most of that group probably can't be bothered to play this Google game. They're too busy preparing for tomorrow's work or putting their young children to bed.The likely audience that will engage with these commercials is the preteen, teen group. Call them Generation Z if you wish.It is easy to criticize anything out of the norm and, in this case, this unbranded approach is a worthy experiment. Not all will get it, but McDonald's will hopefully discover who will engage with this form of interaction. Hopefully that group has the power and resources to influence additional sales after watching the ads.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    I'm pretty sure to have validated each of the RetailWire founders as real people, but as for the rest of the internet...?
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    The gap in consumer recognition of AI in their online interactions tells the story today. The article cited that "while only 34 percent of respondents thought they had directly experienced AI, it turned out that when further questioned 84 percent had actually used at least one AI-powered service or device."Technology is best used when it accomplishes a specific intended purpose as designed without becoming the center of attention. When AI is used to more efficiently serve up product suggestions and relevant offers, consumers are generally delighted. When the customer experience is enhanced, I'll bet consumers will not be as concerned with "how" it happened.The implications of increased proficient use of AI by e-tailers will be interesting to watch. Will the efficiency have any impact on lowering prices for consumers or will the impact be a "better customer experience" for consumers with the operational savings accruing all to the merchant?
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    It’s the Millennials’ world

    The premise that a silent competition exists between generational groups to garner the attention of brands is flawed.The attention afforded to Millennials by marketers over the recent past is founded in Millennial comfort with personal technology and their expressed desire for authenticity from their favorite brands. These characteristics have influenced the way many Boomers and Gen X'ers interact with brands. Effectively both groups have learned from Millennials and have incorporated similar approaches to making purchase decisions into their own lives.The lesson for retailers is how to become more proficient at data-driven marketing and how to incorporate new communications channels into their marketing efforts. Doing so will not jeopardize their relationship with Boomers, it will widen the net to become more relevant to all customers, regardless of their generational affiliation.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Driverless truck delivers 50K cans of Bud on supply run

    No matter was pre-disposed opinions I may hold regarding the potential of self-drivers, I have to respect the results of this successful test. The goal of using the technology to provide the human driver relief and extend his/her driving time can add to productivity for over-the-road truckers.I hope the goal is to use the technology to supplement the human "leadership" of the machine rather than replace the human altogether. My comment should not be interpreted as being scared of the technology. It is in recognition of the gradual process that should be adopted in implementing these changes.Public safety is too important to be in a hurry here. Using the tech to add to drive productivity makes sense and this test is a strong step forward.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Does talking to a human still matter?

    As much as I want to embrace the future of AI, I can't say that I know anyone who says "Let me talk to a machine." I do know many that say "I desperately want better customer service."When AI works well, the consumer will truly not care if they are talking with a machine or a person. Yes, they will cognitively know the difference, but as long as the decision-making process is efficient and serves the customer needs, the source of the voice on the other end of the line won't be so important.At the moment, there is a wide disparity in the efficacy of machine based customer service efforts. I am aware of technology in development that detects potential fraud based on voice analysis. When certain attributes of the customer's voice are identified, the caller is referred to a specialist. The transfer takes place without letting the customer know they have been tagged as a potential fraudster.This is an area where machine intelligence may be adopted even sooner than in direct communication with customers.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2016

    Will retailers lose retiring boomers to experiences?

    Developing a strategy to attract Boomers into the future, retailers should consider not just Boomers themselves, but their sphere of influence in their families. Boomers become grandparents and stay connected with two generations of family as a result.Retailers should continue to explore the creation of entertaining "how-tos" that support the purchase of a particular item, e.g. grilling classes for those buying a Big Green Egg. At the same time, creating connections across generations is a way to tap into the Boomer dollars that are spent as an investment in their own families. I like the Lego example suggested by one of our panelists and think there are many more across games, sports and even electronics.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2016

    Will the Galaxy Note 7 snafu send Samsung up in flames?

    The visibility of the problem is widespread, as flight attendants on a flight last week included a special message directed to passengers holding a Galaxy Note 7. Beyond placing them in airplane mode, passengers were asked to turn them completely off during the duration of the flight.Samsung has the opportunity to recover quickly if it finds a fix for these devices and communicates the plan for repair clearly to consumers. Long term damage may be linked to how consumers evaluate the root cause of the problem. A spectrum of opinions will be drawn depending on whether the root cause is faulty design, a bad batch of batteries or another unknown problem.Also in favor of Samsung is that the immediacy of information dissemination online often highlights the "latest" big story, meaning that if Samsung does its part, consumers will soon move on to another headline.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2016

    Why are retailers struggling with Big Data?

    The potential of Big Data is enormous and retailers (or other marketers) who seek to grapple with the entirety of that potential may fail to execute well in any area.I am an advocate of collecting just the data that you plan to use in a thoughtful manner. Identifying specific objectives and customer behaviors needed to reach those objectives leads to creation of a short list of data-enabled offers that can be measured for success.In easy language, keep it simple, narrow the field of what data you collect and make sure you execute well on specific promotions, campaigns, or offers. Success in small steps creates the foundation for a richer embrace of the potential of Big Data.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2016

    Is a grocery price war inevitable?

    A focus on customer service would be a solid way to navigate the deflationary time predicted to be ahead. As an example from my local market, I have noticed that while Aldi has highly competitive prices on selected items compared to competitors, they often staff with only one cashier station open.The result is longer wait times for checkout, meaning the consumer effectively must "pay" for the lower-priced product with another currency -- time. Knowing that some customers shop Aldi only for price, some segments will not be impacted, but Aldi would be well advised to monitor customer feedback.Great customer service can take the consumer eye slightly off the price and grocers fighting for market share can use this strategy to gain market share in every environment.

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