There’s Work for Loyalty Program Operators to do to Create a Better Customer Experience for Members

At the beginning of Thursday’s Loyalty360 webinar titled, “The Battle For Love & Loyalty—Key Findings From The Loyalty Report 2017,” which was presented by Bond Brand Loyalty, Scott Robinson, vice president design & strategy for Bond Brand Loyalty, polled attendees and asked them to agree or disagree with the following statement: “Our organization treats our loyalty program members as our best customers, and better than our non-member customers.”

Webinar attendees responded with 64 percent agree and 36 percent disagree. Robinson and Sean Claessen, executive vice president strategy & innovation, Bond Brand Loyalty, contrasted those poll results with the report’s statistic that says only 22 percent agree with the following statement: “As a member of this program, I sense that my experience with the brand is better than the experience of customers who are NOT enrolled in the program.”

“It’s quite a gap of your own perspective and your members from 64 percent versus 22 percent,” Robinson said. “It says that loyalty program operators are not enabling any different experience for members. It should feel like a huge call to action for our best customers. There’s work for programs to do to enable a better experience for members.”

Robinson and Claessen stressed that the main theme of the webinar was “the experience” for loyalty program members because when members evaluate and interact with loyalty programs, the experience is unequivocally the main driver of satisfaction.

Robinson and Claessen presented some key findings from Bond Brand Loyalty’s seventh annual Loyalty Report 2017. opportunities to help brands punch above their weight to differentiate the member experience and increase program performance.

“This year’s study is our biggest and best ever,” Robinson said. “We assess over 55 program attributes and map DNA of nearly 400 programs, including Amazon’s Prime. Experience is the weightiest factor that drives satisfaction.”

Robinson and Claessen said that the anticipation of the reward is just as sweet as the reward.

“But the lack of awareness and goal-setting are barriers to higher engagement,” he said.

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.

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 actively communicate progress toward this goal to help mitigate post-redemption attrition risk.

According to the report, there is a staggering $100 billion worth of unredeemed points.

“It’s a call to action for marketers to better convey these (redemption point) totals,” Robinson said.

Claessen said that providing loyalty program members their point balances is one thing.

“If you keep them aware of the value, you can get the satisfaction lift,” he added. “Instead of having them sit around oblivious, not knowing what that value is.”

Claessen and Robinson offered attendees some key items to remember:

Focus on the redemption experience, not the reward.

Encourage goal setting.

Foster better awareness of accumulation status, and communicate progress.

Take advantage of higher engagement upon redemption eligibility, to drive outcomes.

Mitigate post-redemption attrition

The report listed its Top 10 loyalty programs (excluding grocery, pharma, and fuel): Amazon Prime, Walmart Savings Cather, Costco Membership, Sally Beauty Club, Cabela’s Club Rewards, Dollar Shave Club, Bass Pro Shops Pro Rewards, Sam’s Club Membership, Vitamin Shoppe Healthy Awards, and Carter’s Rewards.
Here are the Top 10 Grocery, Pharma, or Fuel) programs: Kroger Fuel Program, Harris Teeter e-VIC, Sheetz My Sheetz Card, Speedway Speedy Rewards, Smith’s Fuel Program, Giant Eagle fuel perks!, Winn-Dixie fuel perk!, Price Chopper AdvantEdge, Walgreens Balance Rewards, and Fred Meyer Rewards.

Earn and burn drivers are important, but it’s the experience that makes the greatest difference in overall satisfaction, Robinson noted. 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.

Members evaluate their program on a variety of attributes, benefits, and experiences. Robinson and Claessen listed the report’s Top 10 factors that drive loyalty program customer satisfaction:

Program meets needs

Enjoy participating in program

Program makes brand experience better

Ease of redemption

Program consistent with brand expectations

Program rewards/benefits appealing

Level of effort needed to earn redemption

Time to earn desired rewards/benefits

Amount accumulated per $1 spent

Ways rewards/benefits can be earned

Robinson and Claessen offered a final key takeaway:

“Successful programs are designed, managed, and tweaked using advanced preference and behavioral analytics,” they said. “Use your people to enable a better member experience. Differentiate on experience–higher perceived value and lower cost.”

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