A strong word, hate. It may seem extreme, there are customers out there quietly stewing, their loyalty being chipped away by poor service at each interaction. They may not move to a competitor instantly, there could be other signs which – not obvious to begin with – point to them well and truly falling out of love with you.
So back to what I dislike about “loyalty” programs:

1. Complexity

If I have to take out my slide rule to understand the conversion from price paid to points earned to redeemable for x value, it is too complicated. That goes the same for a salesperson having a card they have to refer to in order to tell you the value.

2. Requiring a Card

I understand not every company’s point-of-sale systems can look me up via name or phone but I don’t want to stuff my wallet with a card for every loyalty program I belong to. I don’t want a Costanza wallet.

3. Breakage

I’ve been on the inside where conversations take place touting how breakage makes the program profitable – how for instance, it would be detrimental to turn on the ability to inform customers at checkout that they have value to redeem. Wrong. The best programs encourage usage and focus on the customer.
Over time, the customer will reward the company with more business and spread good word-of-mouth advertising.

4. Programs without Benefits

You need to think about what you are trying to drive with your program; instead of finding benefits that won’t get used, are inexpensive or paid for by someone else, focus on your customer and find out what is valuable to them and then offer that as a benefit.
Don’t give away the moon, but listing off 10 benefits that you know won’t ever be used is pointless.

5. Fine Print

I know we are lawsuit crazy these days, and you have to protect your business.
But other than the necessary legal, nothing else should get buried in fine print.

6. Spam

I signed up for your loyalty program, and you spam me with email daily or sometimes even more often. Send me relevant email, and quit telling me “last chance” or “urgent” or “lowest price ever.”
Either let me choose when you send me emails, or be conservative and send less. More email just gets me to unsubscribe.

7. Bad User Experience

With so many digital experiences available at their fingertips, customers have grown accustomed to good design and responsive interfaces. That makes it completely unacceptable to run a program that looks like it hasn’t been made a priority.

Broken links, ugly design, and programs that look disconnected from the rest of your customer experience are surefire ways to lessen the appeal of joining your brand community and have your customers heading for the door.

Putting your brand front and centre can be the difference between customers trusting your program or walking away from it. When they see a logo and colors they recognize attached to your program, they’ll automatically associate the good feelings they have for the rest of your brand with what you’re offering through your rewards program.

8. Members forget they’re enrolled

If I asked you how many loyalty programs you’re actually enrolled in, would you be able to answer? Chances are you’re enrolled in more than you think – you’ve just stopped engaging.

The same thing happens to your customers. Even if they really love your brand, your members might forget they’re enrolled and start shopping with your competitors, weakening the connection they have to your community.

A simple way to remind people that they’re enrolled is to simply remind them! Incorporating behavioral emails into your marketing strategy is the perfect way to meet shoppers at every stage in the customer journey.

9. Members have issues redeeming their points

There are few things that will have customers looking for the exit quicker than points they can’t redeem.
After all, what’s the point of earning something you can’t take advantage of? Technological hiccups and related program issues are extremely detrimental to your customer experience, and will leave customers questioning whether they can truly trust and depend on your brand.

Choosing a loyalty program provider that can stand up under pressure will do wonders for the reputation of both your program and your brand as a whole.

10. They don’t take your complaints seriously

Once upon a time, complaints could be shrugged off. However, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, one little voice could ruin your reputation. That time provided us with an additional reminder on why it’s so important to look after existing customers.
Ideally, you shouldn’t be waiting for a complaint to happen; any hint of disquiet should result in action being taken to avoid the same issue being felt by any other clients. This will help you please your customer, save you time and protect your reputation.

If you do receive a genuine complaint, then it’s important to remember that perception is reality – do not go defensive and start wading into an argument! If you have failed – in their eyes – to deliver, admit it, apologize, and make it right.
Not only will this help get them back on side, but it could actually strengthen their faith in you.

I do love good customer loyalty programs, and they are out there. I am a member of one, and the value exchange has benefited both of us greatly since I became a member.


They are focused on the customer.

By adjusting and reassessing a couple of key areas in your program, you can easily bring your customer loyalty back and help your customers find additional value with each transaction and interaction with your brand community.

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