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Are you running a customer 'dis'loyalty program?

(photo - cafe drink)Recently, one of my favorite cafés digitized their customer loyalty program. Previously, they punched a paper card every time I ordered a latte, and every 11th drink was free.

Now, they have a smartphone app and a plastic card that they swipe with each purchase. Rewards now accumulate for any food and drink purchase, offering a cash discount after specific purchase thresholds.

What is the disloyalty?

When I went today, I noticed my receipt said I was an unregistered member and I needed to visit their website to complete my registration. This is not unusual these days since loyalty programs want to market and promote as well as reward their best customers.

But can the program go too far?  While still sitting and enjoying my coffee, I used their free wifi (thank you) to log in my smartphone and visited their website. The first step was I must download their phone app to register. There is no option to register directly from the website.

Why is this a concern?

I use my smartphone to navigate when driving and recently I have had a problem with Google Maps dying midway during several trips. The problem, according to Google, was that the phone had run out of memory and so shut down the app (usually just before I had to make a turn). The solution was to remove unused apps and free up space. So, having to install another app seemed very unnecessary for a free cup of coffee.

I did install the app, though, and then was surprised I had to manually enter two long codes from the plastic card to continue. My first thought was why not have a QR code I can scan with my phone and save some time?

The next steps in the registration process was to fill in personal information. I don't mind entering my name and email address in loyalty programs because that is how they can send me special deals. In fact, I use a certain email address specifically for such purpose since many shops probably sell their list to other marketeers.

But this app wanted more. My birthday, mobile phone number, home address, and other fields were also required to complete the registration.

Given all the data security breaches and security threats these days, there was no way I would enter this data just for a free cup of coffee every few months. As I looked closely, I could see that the app and website were run by a third party and not by this café.

And so I abandoned the registration and deleted the app from my phone.

VoC professional perspectives

As a voice of customer professional, I could not remain silent. I summoned the store manager and explained to her that I have been a regular customer for over 10 years and why I was not going to participate in their loyalty program any longer.

The manager replied that I was not the first customer to abandon their program. So, if this is repeating, I think there is an opportunity for QFD to help them out, as well as many other businesses that have embraced similar loyalty programs and IT designs.

Immediate Blitz QFD® Steps

I see three immediate Blitz QFD steps this shop can use.

  1. What is the purpose of the loyalty program? Is it to attract new customers or retain existing customers? How do we measure this? In Blitz QFD® we use the project goals table to define this.
  2. Who are the key customers whose satisfaction will lead to reaching targets? With the Blitz QFD® customer segments table, we can define different customer attributes and use project goals to prioritize them.
  3. What are the key functions the loyalty program must perform? The Blitz QFD® maximum value table identifies key functional requirements and direct a development team towards them.

When a customer does business with you, they do not just buy the products and services. They buy a relationship that should keep them coming back for more. Attracting and retaining customers is too important to let a poorly designed loyalty program cause customers to leave.

Tools of Modern Blitz QFD®

The tools of Blitz QFD® can help you do it right the first time. Customers do not owe you a second chance. Please consider joining us in the upcoming Public QFD Green Belt® Course to learn these tools and begin applying them in your project.


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