Not everyone was happy when Starbucks decided to change up its loyalty program, but the brand executed it correctly. Here are 10 tips for following suit.
Recently, Starbucks changed its loyalty program from rewarding customers based on their number of visits to their number of dollars spent. Currently, customers with “gold status” – which requires 30 stars – must visit 12 times to earn a free food item or beverage.
With the new program, customers need 300 stars to reach the gold level and 125 stars to earn a free reward. Starbucks customers have always earned one star per order, regardless of the number of items they have in an per order. The new program will give customers two stars for every dollar spent.
Starbucks says the change is meant to satisfy customer requests and speed up service at the cash registers. However, the coffee chain’s announcement has spurred negative feedback from many longtime customers who say the change devalues the program and will force them to spend more to earn a free drink. Yet, Starbucks’ changes aren’t for nothing; the new program will allow those who frequent the brand often to rack up rewards quickly.
Without proper planning, changes to a loyalty program could make customers less loyal if you don’t do your homework. If you must update your loyalty offering, it’s important to give proper notice – as Starbucks did- and ensure that the modifications coincide with previous customer expectations.
Here are 10 things to consider before implementing changes to your loyalty program:
1. Seek employee and consumer input
Before you make any sweeping changes to your loyalty program, it’s crucial to reach out to both your employees and customers. Obtain feedback and learn what’s most successful and what could improve. Employees are on the frontlines of your business so their input is valuable.
Likewise, your customers are essential in providing direction to help you improve your loyalty program. Understand what’s working for them, and what you can do to satisfy their needs and bring them back to your brand more often.
2. Review your points economy
When considering changes to your program, you should always review your existing points economy. With a few tweaks, you could vastly improve your margins while still providing value to longtime customers.
3. Explain why you’re changing the program
People don’t like change for change’s sake, so it’s imperative to clearly spell out the reasons why you are modifying your program. Detail how the changes will improve the program.
4. Spell out the changing benefits and value
While the reasons for understanding the changes to a loyalty program are important, consumers really want to know what’s in it for them. Explain how many new benefits consumers will be eligible for and how the company continues to value their business.
5. Offer an incentive
Get your (new) relationship off on the right note and give consumers an incentive – think discount or free low-value item – to show your continued appreciation for their business. Offering an incentive is a great way to keep interest in your program and further extend the value to existing loyalty program members.
6. Communicate the change across all channels
Any good brand knows how important it is to be where your customers are. Whether they encounter your brand on email, social, digital, media, or prefer in-store communication, you must inform customers about your loyalty program changes across all channels and touchpoints.
Taking a seamless approach will ensure that your messaging gets across at the right time and in the proper channels for your customers.
7. Give notice
When you make changes, it’s important to tell people in advance. Give them time to process the changes and to understand them. This, too, will allow you adequate time to properly implement the changes to your program so you can hit the ground running with your new initiative.
8. Arm your customer service team
When anything new is introduced into an existing loyalty program, it’s critical to arm your customer service team with information they need to answer consumer questions and to address complaints. By properly informing your customer care team with the details, you can disseminate the right information and satisfy customer inquiries efficiently and quickly.
9. Involve consumers in promoting the new program
Your customers can be your best allies, especially when it comes to advocating on your behalf. Reach out to your loyal brand advocates – the ones that stay with you through the thick and thin – and incentivize them to help you spread the word about your new program.
After all, there’s no better way to amplify your message than through the words of your die-hard fans.
10. Remind people why they love your brand
Sometimes, consumers might just need a little reminder about what they love most about your brand to understand the reasons for the changes to the loyalty program.
In communicating the changes to your program, remind consumers what your brand stands for, why it’s successful, and what value you bring to their lives.
While changes to a loyalty program are often inevitable to keep your brand growing and successful, it’s important to consider whether introducing something new will ultimately be positive.
By properly weighing the benefits and demonstrating the value to consumers – with advance notice – you can minimize the impact and take your loyalty customers along for the ride with your new program.
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