When we think of loyalty programs, we don’t immediately think of customer service.
We think of making sure that in-store associates know how to get people to sign up for a free loyalty program.
But there’s much more involved with a paid program.
Although people might not think about it much, customer service plays an important role in any premium loyalty program.
Why is Premium Loyalty Customer Service So Different?
With a traditional, free loyalty program, the goal is often just getting a name and email address from a customer so they can be sent promotions.
Many traditional loyalty programs are automated after signup. Points are added automatically for transactions and the responsibility rests on the customer to use the benefits.
With this loyalty model, there’s not much need for customer service because there isn’t much at stake. The customer hasn’t invested anything into the program.
When you’re dealing with a premium loyalty program, however, you’re dealing with your best customers. Consumers raise their hands and pay to become members of a premium loyalty program. Customer service then becomes critical.
Members of a premium loyalty programs pay a monthly fee, so if there is ever a question or concern about anything related to their membership, from benefits to billing, they need to be addressed swiftly and properly.
These are your VIP customers, and they need to be treated as such.
Who Handles Customer Service in a Premium Loyalty Program?
Some retailers that have premium loyalty programs own their customer service. When a loyalty program member contacts the brand about the program, they are speaking to someone at the brand itself.
But not all retailers manage their own loyalty programs. They often rely on loyalty vendors to build and manage their programs.
For example, we are what’s known as a hybrid loyalty vendor. This means we not only have a loyalty technology platform, but we also provide all the services with that.
All our partners receive full access to our entire team of loyalty experts. We build, manage, and optimize all aspects of these premium loyalty programs. We include things like creative, marketing, data analytics, and, of course, branded customer service.
What is Branded Customer Service?
For many retailers that work with a loyalty vendor, that vendor takes on customer service on behalf of the retailer as part of the service it offers. We call this branded customer service.
Essentially, the vendor becomes an extension of the brand. It’s all about bringing customer service to a new level.
It’s critical to reinforce the brand promise at every touch point. That’s what creates loyalty moments and makes for a seamless customer experience.
Our Customer Service team infuses our clients’ values that reflect brand promises and images on behalf of the client.
So, when a member calls the brand about anything related to its loyalty program, we are the ones fielding the call, email, or chat.
But as far as the customer knows, he or she is talking to the brand.
How is Branded Customer Service Actually Executed?
We can only speak for ourselves, but we do everything on behalf of our clients.
When we partner with a new retail client, we assign specific customer service reps to that client exclusively. And then we train them intensely.
We tend not to use scripts (unless that is specified by our client). We like it to be more organic so that when a member calls, they don’t feel like they’re talking to a robot.
Part of that training includes giving the Customer Service Specialist a membership to the program. That way, he or she learns it inside and out and can address any question.
When our retail clients’ loyalty program members interact with customer service, they are getting an awesome experience that reinforces a brand message.
To illustrate our ability, in the past 18 months, 90 percent of our customer service calls were answered in 30 seconds or less, with an average speed of answer of 14 seconds.
These are your best customers in the program. They deserve the best possible customer service.
Customer Service as a Differentiator
We really look at customer service to help differentiate a brand at a deeper level.
Every interaction and every moment is an opportunity to reinforce our brand promise and build loyalty with consumers.
The thing to remember is that when you’re dealing with a paid loyalty program, customer service becomes much more critical.
While some brands handle it themselves, others look to hybrid loyalty partners to provide the customer service, in addition to all the other services required to build, manage, and optimize a successful loyalty program.
If every touch point is an opportunity to build loyalty and momentum with your customers, don’t you want to make sure you’re reinforcing your brand promise at every moment?