Training & Development

Learning from a botched loyalty program request

Engel Schmidl /

I was at a well-known tea retailer the other week at the register ready to pay. “Would you like to join our loyalty program?” asked the sales assistant.

Here’s how it went down:

Assistant: Would you like to join you loyalty program?
Me: (Exasperated sigh to infer my purse was already groaning under the weight of loyalty program cards.) What’s involved?
Assistant: You just need to provide some information.
Me: How much information?
Assistant: All of it.
Me: What’s all of it?
Assistant: Name, address, phone, email…” (She went on but I’d closed off long ago.)
Me: And what do I get?
Assistant: 10% off once you reach $500.
Me: No thanks.

Pretty simply this assistant and/or the store’s policy had botched the opportunity to engage me in their program because effort exceeded reward. The effort/reward equation is one I’ve flagged before as a useful distillation of what you are requiring of your buyer compared with what they receive.

Both effort and reward should be assessed on financial, psychological and social terms, as well as time and physical commitment.

In this scenario I was being asked to complete a seemingly endless registration form (time and cognitive effort) for a distant and insignificant payoff (10% after $500). Note the significance on the payoff is scaled in terms of effort. Had I been automatically granted 10% discount on the day for nothing more than an email I would have been rapt.

Here’s how it could have gone down (because as my purse attests, I have been known to join such programs):

Assistant: Would you like to join you loyalty program?
Me: (Exasperated sigh to infer my purse was already groaning under the weight of loyalty program cards.) What’s involved?
Assistant: I just register your name and email and as a thank you I can take 10% off today’s purchases.
Me: OK, sure. My email is…” (Immediate benefit; negligible effort.)

From there, the company could and should send me a welcome email, at which point they can establish a relationship and ask me for more personal information.

It’s easy to go wrong when seeking to engage your buyer, so remember to keep effort/reward in balance and you’ll see your conversion improve.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues. Bri is a presenter, consultant and author who you can find out more about at www.peoplepatterns.com.au, viabri@peoplepatterns.com.au or by following on Twitter @peoplepatterns. Bri’s book, “22 Minutes to a Better Business”, about how behavioural economics can help you tackle everyday business issues, is available through the Blurb bookstore.

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