In this day and age, when consumers have more choices on where to spend their money, and more economic incentive to be overly selective about those choices, having a throw-away benefit is risky. It leads customers to question where their dollars are going, and gives them no reason to continue engaging beyond an initial perusal.
Here's why member benefits are so important: unless an organization makes great smartphones, computers, televisions or automobiles, chances are their customers aren't interacting with the brand every day. There's a good chance they've totally forgotten the organization entirely. This makes for an awkward conversation when bills come due or the customer is asked to make another purchase.
An Example of How Not to Benefit Your Customers
A mid-sized company looking for a discount program benefit contacted us about a year ago. After a few meetings and demos, they were totally seeing the positives of a quality program. Then when the time to make the decision came, they went with a freebie solution - a compilation of affiliate deals that drive small amounts of transactional revenue back to the organization.
It didn't matter if people wouldn't actually use or benefit from the program, they explained, because the company just needed to check the "discount program" box so their benefits could match what their competitors offered.
Over the next year this company saw very little usage of that program and their retention rates had actually dipped a bit. They even discovered that the discount program provider had been selling off their customers' data. They came back to Access, and now have a very effective, high-usage discount program. Yes, there are costs, but if retention is important to an organization, a benefit that people will actually utilize pays for itself.
A Quality Discount Program + Your Customers = Love
As simple as it sounds, a discount program done correctly can be a major asset to customer retention efforts. Why?
- As much as 90% of the population uses coupons, meaning it's almost universally appealing
- For many organizations, discount programs are a way to offset membership dues (and wipe out financial objections)
- They lend themselves to everyday usage, which means everyday exposure for the providing organization
- That frequent engagement opens the doors to every other message the organization wants to share
- They give organizations a chance to say something other than "Hey, give us some more money." In fact, they carry the opposite message - "Save some money, on us."
Discount programs, when done properly, can do what no other benefit can: make an organization relevant on an everyday basis by impacting customers where they need it the most - their wallets. They open the doors to new dialog with members, and give new members comfort in the decision they've made to do business with the providing company.
When an irrelevant program is paraded out as a benefit, or when a benefits package is bereft of relevant benefits, the benefits become just the opposite - a hindrance, obstruction to engagement and retention.