Loyalty crippled

While recently booking a flight home to visit family, I was both saddened and annoyed that my total accrued Qantas Frequent Flyer points had reached their expiration just 24 hours before and were now deleted. Where is this rule about points termination and why wasn’t I informed, I screamed?!

Ferreting through the terms and conditions I found that yes, 18 months of inactivity would cause points to expire. Members would however be notifed of this via monthly newsletters (IF they chose to receive email communications) or via warnings in their activity statement. For one, I couldn’t remember the last monthly newsletter which I’d received from Qantas – and I do choose to receive emails. And clearly, I hadn’t logged in to my activity statement for some time … ah, 18 months in fact. And I certainly had not received an email stating that my points were about to expire.

This disappointment led me think that perhaps Qantas could have handled their communications a bit differently. Do they want to encourage me to fly more with them or add to my points total via engaging their other partners? I immediately thought of other rewards programs to which I belong to compare.

The UK’s Costa Coffee probably have the most active member email schedule I can immediately think of. Each month without fail there is a monthly points email – this is in addition to separate emails offering new member offers or new products in store. Furthermore, after a morning visit to pick up a caffeine kick start, I received an email not less than an hour later, asking me for feedback on my latest visit to Costa. I was impressed.

Another example which springs to mind is not a rewards program so to speak. A few months back, I purchased some very nice shoes online from UK retailer Moda in Pelle. My custom was rewarded by an instant email subscription alerting me to further discounts – on a weekly basis. Now some people might be annoyed by this or find it intrusive. Simply unsubscribing yourself will do the trick. As a result of this subscription I’ve been alerted to further reductions available from their online store which aren’t available in their main store. This email campaign typically followed the pattern of:
week 1 – email of offer
week 2 – email reminder of offer
week 3 – email reminder that the offer is about to end

What these examples highlight is that rewards programs are not just about the points. The points are simply the tool or a hook for getting a customer to engage. It’s about keeping customers – loyalty cuts both ways.

In my case, giving Qantas the benefit of the proverbial, there might have been an email but I missed it. I think it goes without saying, that people are busy and inundated with emails these days. A little empathy may have shown that the fact of potentially losing quite a few points may not be want the customer really wants. And something which could have been approached differently.

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