The Experience Matters the Most for Loyalty Program Members

When members evaluate and interact with loyalty programs, the experience is unequivocally the main river of satisfaction.

Loyalty programs are among the largest drivers of brand choice as consumers assess their program experience on elements beyond just dividends and rewards.

Loyalty360 will host a webinar titled, “The Battle For Love & Loyalty—Key Findings From The Loyalty Report 2017,” on Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 1 p.m. EDT. The webinar will be presented by Bond Brand Loyalty and the featured speakers are Scott Robinson, vice president design & strategy, Bond Brand Loyalty; and Sean Claessen, executive vice president strategy & innovation, Bond Brand Loyalty.

Robinson and Claessen will present key findings from the Loyalty Report 2017 and highlight opportunities to help brands punch above their weight to differentiate the member experience and increase program performance.

Loyalty360 caught up with Robinson for a sneak peek of Thursday’s webinar.

How can brands differentiate the member experience and increase program performance?
Robinson: Of all the ways in which members interact with and evaluate loyalty programs, the experience matters the most. Experience drivers are more important than monetary drivers in achieving program satisfaction. Earn and burn drivers are important, but it’s the experience that makes the greatest difference in overall satisfaction. The experience–comprising the digital experience, the human touch, and the way in which a program aligns with the brand–offers the greatest opportunity to differentiate from competitors. When the experience is brand-aligned, when it supports the brand promise in a brand-right manner, the program experience is less susceptive to competitive mimicry – and becomes a sustainable form of competitive differentiation for the organization. Often, these experience elements carry higher perceived value, yet are the most cost effective–for instance, priority boarding for air travel program members.

What factors drive member satisfaction today and are those factors much different from five years ago?
Robinson: Members evaluate their program on a variety of attributes, benefits, and experiences. In each year of this study’s long and successful tenure, we have conducted an in-depth analysis to identify the most important factors driving members to be very satisfied with their program. The top five drivers in this year’s study are as follows:

  1. Program meets needs
  2. Enjoy participating in program
  3. Program makes brand experience better
  4. Ease of redemption
  5. Program consistent with brand expectations
This year’s top five satisfaction drivers comprise experience-centric attributes. Year-over-year, the top drivers of satisfaction have been fairly consistent, and each year our analysis has highlighted the importance of experience-related program elements over dividend/monetary-related elements.  Program operators should focus on the drivers that matter most, and different on experience, not on rewards.

What is a good loyalty program out there now and what sets it apart?
Robinson: Programs that rank highly in our study tend to score highly on the top drivers of program satisfaction. In other words, they earn top marks on key drivers such as Program Meets My Needs, Enjoy Participating in the Program, and Program Makes My Brand Experience Better.

Amazon Prime is a consistent top performer in our study, and program operators frequently cite Prime as a benchmark-worthy Program. Prime’s shipping benefits are most familiar, garner most of the attention, and fulfill members’ needs for expeditious delivery. Additional benefits such as Prime Video and Prime Photos do much in supporting program enjoyment; and continued innovation, as evidenced by the Dash Button and most recently Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo, do much to enrich the overall experience with the brand.

This year’s study is our biggest and best ever; we assess over 55 program attributes and map the DNA of nearly 400 programs, including Amazon’s Prime.

Redemption seems to be a critical area today for brands that have loyalty programs. What can be done to increase redemption levels?
Robinson: That’s true. Redeemers are 2X more likely to be highly satisfied with their program than non-redeemers, yet still 1/5th of program members have not redeemed. Interestingly, Members eligible to redeem are just as satisfied as Members who have just made a redemption – suggesting the anticipation of the reward is just as sweet as the reward itself. Many members show a lack of awareness of their points balance and the absence of a redemption goal. Fifty-seven percent do not know their points balance and 34 percent do not have redemption goal. Program operators should encourage goal-setting, foster better awareness of accumulation status, and communicate progress toward this goal to help mitigate post-redemption attrition risk.

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