For just over a year, we’ve been writing a stream of research around customer loyalty programs. Loyalty is “en fuego” right now, and it’s an exciting time to be covering the technologies, services, and analytics that support these programs. To make things even more thrilling, we just published The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Program Service Providers, Q1 2012.

This is Forrester’s first evaluation of loyalty program service providers. We screened more than 30 companies that build and manage loyalty programs but narrowed down the field to Aimia, Brierley+Partners, Epsilon, Kobie Marketing, Maritz, and Tibco Loyalty Lab. These players demonstrate market momentum, offer a full range of loyalty services to support the entire loyalty life cycle, and generate strong customer interest.

Our assessment consisted of executive briefings; reference calls and online surveys of user companies; and a 60-criteria evaluation. These criteria included the vendor’s approach to loyalty strategy; technology offering; integration capabilities; program management services; and analytics and reporting services; as well as the strength of their roadmap and vision for the future of loyalty.

Forrester clients can read the full report to see how vendors ranked, including scorecard details and the ability to customize the evaluation criteria with personalized weightings.

Given that the customer loyalty vendor ecosystem includes multiple categories of vendors that vary in size, scope, and capabilities, this isn’t the last Forrester Wave on the topic. In the next quarter we’ll be kicking off an evaluation of companies that specifically provide loyalty platform software. We are continuing to cover the entire loyalty program market and are interested in all facets of the space.

If you’re a vendor in the customer loyalty space, we want to hear about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. And if you’re a loyalty marketer, we most certainly want to hear about your experiences to date and plans for the future.

The Forrester Wave methodology takes an exhaustive and collaborative approach to vendor evaluations. Thank you to the vendors and users who participated in the process for their time, effort, and commitment. Additionally, I’d like to extend a special “Thank you!” to my Forrester colleagues Emily Murphy, Dave Frankland, and Allison Smith, who supported the project from start to publish.