7 Strategies for Building a Five-Star Customer Loyalty Program

Nearly 80 percent of shoppers are more likely to stick with a brand if they have a loyalty program. From Amazon Prime to Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan to Hilton Honors to Domino’s Piece of the Pie, legacy brands have embraced loyalty and in return have enhanced their customers’ satisfaction.

Loyalty program design does not need to rely solely on the percentage of discount or value of the perk itself. Equally important is offering a superior experience that recognizes your best customers. At its core, a successful program creates a welcoming space that uses up-and-coming tech to keep up with the competition and improve everyone’s experience.

But first, you need a slate of eye-catching rewards and a quick path to getting them. Once you’ve set up your program, here are some strategies to take it to the next level.

1. Focus on the Customer Experience

Although it’s important to give your patrons the momentary thrill of an “earn and burn” reward, it’s their experience as part of the program that ultimately keeps them engaged. Loyalty incentives today require a blend of brand alignment, digital presence, and interaction with actual human beings. Get this ratio right, and you’ll compete with the richer perks offered by larger companies.

2. Make It Easy (But Not Too Easy) to Qualify for a Reward

Your loyalty program should be easy to join, and it should then be easy to start earning rewards. It’s good to give your customers something larger to shoot for, but small enticements along the way give them incentive to keep engaging with the program and supporting the business.

3. Let Customers Earn Rewards Quickly

Thirty days is generally considered to be the firewall of loyalty; encourage active participation in the program with a reward within the first month of membership. Wait much longer, and you risk that membership card moving to the back of their wallet or that unopened welcome email slipping further and further down in their inbox. Worse yet, they may stop being a repeat customer.

4. Make the Reward Meaningful

It’s easy to let a tight budget drive the loyalty bus, but that risks the program ending up in a ditch. It’s worth noting why people participate in the first place:

  • Discounts and special offers (43 percent)
  • Free stuff (27 percent)
  • Exclusive perks (10 percent)
  • Members-only benefits (9 percent)

In short, they already love what you put out, and the majority of them want more of it at a cheaper price.

5. Make It Easy for Them to Understand

The value of the rewards is, no doubt, the most important part of any loyalty program. However, it’s also crucial to make the program as user-friendly as possible. Customers should be able to log in, easily check their member status, and know exactly what’s needed to move up the ladder. If you have levels such as silver, gold, and platinum, where do they currently fall and how can they quickly rise?

6. Get Your Team Excited About the Program

The best way to get your patrons jazzed about earning rewards is for your staff to share that excitement. It goes without saying that your front-line employees are the first and last impression that most customers get when interacting with your brand. They should have an encyclopedic knowledge of the ins and outs of your program and be thrilled to share that wisdom with customers.

This level of engagement pays off—member retention goes up by a factor of 12 when an employee gives a customer a better understanding of their loyalty perks, and a factor of 13 when those customers come away with a positive impression of the program.

7. Design the Program to Fit Your Business

There are a variety of metrics to track to reward your best customers:

  • Number of visits. This is ideal if your organization relies on selling lower-cost products, such as coffee. Offer customers points or stars for each visit, with a free or discounted item once they hit a certain threshold. If your regulars stop by for coffee every weekday, give them a cookie after they hit five stars (one week).
  • How much they spend. Consider this approach if you traffic in bigger-ticket items, such as exercise equipment or salon services. Because your patrons may not visit as often, reward them in smaller increments (every $25) or a larger lump sum ($100 or more).
  • What they buy. If there’s a particular category of product you want to move, attach a reward to it. Perhaps pair a loyalty perk with whatever your best seller is at that moment.

Give Rewards, Get Rewarded

Though they may take some time to set up on the front end, loyalty perks that fit your industry and customer buying habits have great potential to boost sales and retention down the road.

Poynt’s comprehensive payment solution makes it easy for customers to enroll in your loyalty program—and for you to offer them compelling rewards and experiences.