Loyalty programs are a great way for companies to motivate people to return and buy again and again. Customers will continue subscribing or purchasing especially when they can earn points that are redeemable for products and services they perceive as
valuable. It is the basis of how many consumers choose airlines, hotels, restaurants, credit cards and much more.
While a good loyalty program can drive retention, it can also be the cause of lost customers if there are pain points incurred throughout the journey. Everything from registering for the program, checking point values, redeeming points and getting help needs to be simple and easy. I recently faced a situation that was the complete opposite. Though frustrating at the moment, it did provide good CX learnings.
Over the years, I’ve been a loyal customer of OpenTable. For those who are unfamiliar, the company allows people to make online reservations, read restaurant reviews from diners, and earn points towards free meals at top rated places. They have been consistently reliable and trustworthy, which is why I was surprised and concerned to receive emails informing that my thousands of loyalty points are about to expire. That is something no customer wants to hear! As I became more annoyed, I looked online at their program details and confirmed that I should not lose any points having met all requirements. I proceeded to call customer care explaining my situation, which led to more aggravation as the rep was unaware of the emails and needed time to investigate. After a half hour talking to the rep on the phone and forwarding her copies of the notices, I eventually learned that the emails were sent in error because of a system glitch. The rep sincerely apologized for the misunderstanding. While I was glad my points would not be lost, my valuable time resolving the issue was gone. This would have been a perfect opportunity for the rep to turn a bad experience into a better one by offering me bonus points for the hassle. Perhaps she was not empowered or trained to think that way.
No company or process is perfect, however business managers need to proactively make sure there are quality checks in place. When system errors occur, it is important to make sure all customer care representatives are aware and educated to handle caller questions in a consistent manner. It is also beneficial to allow reps to provide retention offers to irate customers, especially when it is a company’s mistake. While I was understanding, many people do not forgive easily. “82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service.” Also, “95% of customers share bad experiences, and half of those people will tell 10+ others.” (Zendesk). The numbers speak volumes, which is why doing CX right is essential for business success. Which brand loyalty programs impress you and why? Has there been a time that you went to a competitor because of a bad experience?
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