How to Improve Your One-Size-Fits-All Loyalty Programs
Carriers have long dabbled in some form of rewards or loyalty program. They have offered credits for referring a customer, cash back for customers who switch carriers, and even weekly prizes to their existing customers.
But it’s not clear that these one-sized-fits-all programs strengthen the bond between subscribers and the carrier. A quick review of carrier’s Facebook pages shows both positive and negative comments about them.
And, in some cases, the negative comments suggest that the rewards offered are out of touch or not available to all subscribers.
“Nobody cares about baseball. We care about coffee and gas.”
“It is true that there are no concerts in Washington (sic) state on this offer”.
Although these types of complaints may represent just a small universe of subscribers, they could be problematic down the road. A bunch of negative comments on social media feeds – even for something like a rewards program – can ding the brand.
So if carriers are going to invest in loyalty programs, they need to optimize them wisely: from finding the right rewards – for all of their subscribers – to delivering them flawlessly.
Use data to provide personalized rewards
One idea to improve loyalty programs – for existing customers – is to customize the offer, using subscriber’s personal data and a sophisticated business rules engine.
For example, if the carrier provides a gas card reward, the card is only offered to subscribers with home addresses near that gas station brand.
Of course, customers may find this use of their data a bit disturbing. So carriers need to be fully transparent and up front that they are using customer data to make reward decisions.
“You must have transparency when you use customer data in marketing, advertising and product development,”
said Anne Toth, an online privacy expert and Vice President of People & Policy at Slack Technologies.
Another option is to ask customers for their permission to use their location or other data – before they sign up for the rewards program.
Build a loyalty program like the airlines
Carriers can also build a loyalty program, based on spend, usage, and related activities, similar to the airlines.
For example, the program could issue points for purchases, referrals, trade-ins, self-service usage, monthly spend, or other action that is meaningful to both the carrier and the customer.
Using a loyalty rewards application, like Beesion’s, carriers can set up this type of program quickly. The application uses low-code software, where the business logic and rules are configured with point-and-click tools, not custom code. The actual program rewards can be established and changed, using a separate portal. And tracking and management can all be managed within the application.
Treat rewards like inventory
Rewards must be delivered without any hiccups. Participants should never receive a gift card or coupon that has already expired or doesn’t work (which apparently happens quite a bit, according to some Facebook comments).
All coupons, discount codes, and gift cards need identifiers and expiration dates, and should be accurately catalogued and inventoried. They should be treated like currency and managed tightly with clear business rules. (For example, all gift cards have an expiry date of 90 days from the date of order). As a courtesy, automated reminders could be sent to the subscriber to remind them that the expiry date of their discount code is fast approaching.
Weigh the costs
Once a carrier offers a loyalty program, it should think long and hard about discontinuing it. It’s a bad message to send to customers that their loyalty was rewarded last year, but not this year.
So, if carriers decide to implement a program, they need to continuously manage and optimize it, like any other service. They also have to deliver rewards that subscribers find valuable and accessible. Otherwise, they risk more than complaints on their Facebook feeds.