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Saturday, October 31, 2009

What am I being rewarded for, exactly?

Starbucks executes a lot of service aspects exceedingly well. Their rewards program is not one of them.

It’s too complex. Welcome, Green and Gold levels of differing benefits class customers on the basis of the number of “stars” they’ve earned. When the basis of reward recognition needs its own definition, they’re missing an opportunity to simplify the program dramatically.

It has benefits not valued by everyone. Two hours of free wi-fi is great for those that stay to do work, but a lot of people don’t – a fact recognized by the increasing number of drivethru locations. Likewise, free syrup and soy milk will be valued by some, but not by others.

It isn’t universally recognized. It’s recognized only if you use your registered Starbucks card, and only at participating locations in the U.S.

A loyalty program should be as simple as possible.

If a customer exhibits the purchase behavior, regardless of the circumstances of their purchase, they should get rewarded for their loyalty. Every time. With something they are certain to value.

Anything else creates confusion, makes the rewards program exclusionary and cheapens the loyalty aspect by caveating what behavior is recognized as loyalty.

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