loyalty program turn offs

Loyalty programs want their customers to be exclusive, but program members often prefer to shop around for the best fit. A recent survey of 1,600 U.S. airline miles collectors shed light on some of the most desirable traits a loyalty program can have, as well as some of their most frustrating ones. Here are customers’ top three turnoffs when it comes to settling down with a loyalty program.

Turnoff #1: “The redemption process is too complicated.”

According to the 2014 MileCards.com Mile Satisfaction Survey, 90% of airline reward travel is booked online. Customers who speak positively about their loyalty program’s redemption process mention factors like ease of online booking, while less-popular program websites are cited as being “difficult to use” and “inaccurate.”

Turnoff #2: “There are hidden fees.”

In any relationship, honesty is the foundation of trust. UK e-commerce site Vouchercloud reports that getting slapped with a hidden charge at checkout is the leading cause of order abandonment in online shopping. And the lowest-ranked airline in MileCards.com’s satisfaction survey had the most fees associated with reward travel.

Turnoff #3: “Reward points are impossible to redeem.”

MileCards.com found that the airline loyalty programs with the lowest customer satisfaction scores were twice as likely to have their miles deemed “impossible to use for flights.” Customers are frustrated by programs that allow them to accrue enough points for a reward, but place so many restrictions on redemption that they effectively become useless.

So, what can loyalty programs do to inspire more fond feelings from their members?

Be simple. Display rewards and their required points levels clearly, and use a checkout process that’s easy to navigate, even for members who may not be so tech-savvy. Remove barriers that might frustrate consumers and cause them to abandon the redemption process.

Be transparent. Build consumer trust by being upfront about costs and fees. Don’t worry about chasing customers away with honesty — most prefer to know the full cost of their transaction right away, and feel tricked when they come up against additional fees during the checkout process.

Be rewarding. Allowing customers to cash in their points is essential to keeping them engaged. Ensure that your program is thanking them for their loyalty with regular rewards. After all, it’s the reason you started a loyalty program in the first place.

For more insights into loyalty program dos and don’ts, follow @PointsBiz on Twitter.

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