When Does Loyalty Begin?

We all love industry averages.  We get the “what’s the industry average?” question often for a variety of metrics – response rates, open rates, time intervals, customer sign-ups, you name it.  Everyone wants a benchmark number for comparison.  So here’s a question…what’s the industry average for the number of purchases it takes for a customer to become loyal?  In other words, “When does loyalty begin?”  Of course, the answer is the same as the answer to most questions:  It depends.  For a single business, we answer that through data analysis.  But is there an overall number?  3? 5? 10?

We thought it was an interesting question, so took a few hours to patch together a simple analysis.  We analyzed some data from 10 clients, just to see what it shows.  Surprisingly (or not?) the results were fairly consistent.  First of all, here was our down and dirty methodology…

  1. Looked at purchase activity for 10 businesses. These were from various industries, including retail, entertainment, hospitality, casino, online ecommerce.  Just an unscientific mishmash really, of data we had available.
  2. Analyzed customers after their first visit and noted what percent came back again within a defined timeframe. Then analyzed the percent of customers returning after their second visit.  Then analyzed third visit retention rate, and so forth up to ten.
  3. The “defined timeframe” for the next visit varied based on the industry. It was whatever made sense for that industry.  Could be short (3 months) for local casino players, who typically have a high frequency, to long (2 years) for some durable product retail brands.
  4. Graphed the results and looked at the overall trend.

As mentioned, the results were fairly consistent.  There was a steep upward curve for a few visits, followed by a more modest uptick.  So, here’s what we found…

In most cases, we can see the typical curve. In the cases where we have a more consistent line (yellow and blue), that’s rewards program data for members.  In the case of the yellow line, some of those customers actually paid for the membership, so we expect them to have a higher initial retention rate.

Typically, we see a range of 25%-45% of trial customers returning for a second visit.  So that points to a real opportunity.  Looking at the other end of the chart, we see a tighter range of 80%-90% of 10x visitors returning.  So, there is definitely some love in that room!

To make it easier, we then averaged out the ten lines.  Here are the results…

We can clearly see the steep incline until we get to the 4x buyers, after which the line continues to move up, but at a slower pace.  The average 1x retention rate shows about 42%, which in reality is on the high end due to some high loyalty entries.  Remember, most of this is data from loyalty marketing programs, so there is a self-selection bias at play.

A 50% retention rate happens after the second visit.  And after 4 visits, the line starts to flatten out.  On average, 75% of your 4x buyers will return.  At 6 visits we cross the 80% threshold.

So…where does loyalty begin?  If we define loyalty (in transactional terms only – not any emotional factors) as 75% of your customers being retained, the answer is 4 purchases.  If we are a bit stricter, the answer is 6 purchases.

Remember, this was a fairly simple analysis patched together with whatever qualified data was readily available.  But we thought the results were interesting, show a consistent pattern, and seem to validate “gut feelings” about retention and loyalty.

We use this for clients to help determine the appropriate loyalty strategy.  There are specific key indicators in these charts, such as the first purchase (trial) retention rate.  Also, the steepness of the incline and point at which the line flattens point to the loyalty strategies and tactics that will work best.

Have you gone through this exercise with your customer data?  What does your retention rate pattern look like?  Once you have your graph completed, look at the number of customers at each purchase level.  That will show you the opportunity you have.

Find your magic number and work to get as many customers as possible to that level.  Even if you can get 10% more customers to 4 visits (or 6), the value to the bottom line will be tremendous.

Can You Buy Customer Loyalty?

Now there’s a loaded question! It seems whenever a group of loyalty marketers gets together a debate breaks out over this topic. Funny thing is, as I observe and participate in these discussions, there is never truly a debate or argument. There are plenty of stances and positions on the topic, but mostly it comes down to a matter of semantics. What does “loyalty” mean? If we all agreed on the precise and singular meaning of every word in our marketing vernacular, we would never argue. But what fun would that be?

So, let’s analyze some common arguments around this and see what they really mean…

“You can’t buy a customer’s loyalty. It has to be earned.”

If you hear someone say this, you can be sure they are considering the emotional meaning of the word “loyalty”, as opposed to the transactional meaning. Most people would agree that loyalty has a strong emotional component. What they mean by this is that you cannot make a customer emotionally loyal to your brand through discounts, rewards, and other pricing levers. You have to earn that through non-purchase behaviors such as service, experience, or unique products.

Can you earn a customer’s loyalty through a rewards program or discount program? Some argue “absolutely”. If the customer appreciates these programs and perceives them as a positive move on the part of the business to show their appreciation, then they can certainly improve customer loyalty. Yes, the emotional kind.

“Loyalty marketing is an oxymoron.”

This statement takes the position that marketing does not produce real, emotional loyalty. It can affect financial performance, but that’s short-term and fickle. Others would argue that loyalty marketing can be much broader than discounts and rewards. It can include messages, especially through owned and earned media, that create an emotional bond. So, marketing can indeed have a positive effect on real loyalty.

“Offers and rewards can increase loyalty.”

This statement takes the transactional view of loyalty. The customer is continuing to choose to purchase at the business – period. They look at the numbers and see that the customers who were sent the discounts bought more than the control group who didn’t. That’s loyalty.

“But wait,” say the emotionals. “That’s not loyalty. That’s retention.” Good point. But again, it’s a matter of semantics.

There are plenty of customers who base loyalty on offers and rewards. Research results from many of our casino clients show that customers have a heightened sense of loyalty to the properties that continue to provide rewards and offers based on their patronage. When those diminish, so does the customer’s loyalty. Just like when the service or uniqueness of the product diminishes.

So…let’s say, hypothetically, we have a high profile, points-based rewards program in place. The majority of our customers sign up and use the program. By all financial accounts, this is a big winner. Panel matched test vs. control segments show double-digit increases in sales and retention rates. The store associates report that the customers love the program. Have we increased customer loyalty?

What do you think?

What is Your Position on…Loyalty?

Every business has a loyalty program. If you have customers and you try and keep those customers, then you have a loyalty program. Not all are thought through and not all businesses use marketing as a primary retention tool, but businesses with a substantial number of customers who have some untapped potential usually employ marketing in some form to increase retention.

For those companies that do plan their loyalty marketing, many (most?) start with objectives, then move to strategies and on to tactics. At least the smart ones do. Although it’s amazing how many skip right to the latest, sexiest tactics.

However, there’s a step that comes between the objectives and the strategy that many marketers do not explicitly consider…positioning.

Just like a brand, positioning is critical to the success of a program. It sets the stage for not only the strategy, but also the entire communication and messaging platform.

Your program’s position is the value that you are offering your customer. To be successful, your program needs to be differentiated and provide your customer an emotional benefit. Remember…people buy emotions. Period.

So, what are you offering your customer? Following are four popular and effective positions. But please note that they are not mutually exclusive. Many great programs contain elements of more than one. But there should be one overriding positioning that becomes the foundation for your loyalty program.

Savings

The most popular positioning is savings. This is all about money. Your loyalty program is going to save your customers money in some form. For savings, you can position this as savings vs. competitors or savings vs. other customers. It’s a subtle but important distinction. Do you want customers to feel they are getting a better value than if they go to a competitor or a better value than other customers. Typically, rewards or other “enrollment” programs are positioned as savings vs. other customers. You have probably been hit up by companies to “join our program and get 5% off your purchases if you do this, that, and the other thing”.

Exclusivity

This is internal positioning, meaning that the program offers customers something that other customers cannot get. Unlike savings, it’s not about discounting (but could include some discounts). It’s about services, products, or special treatment that is available only to people who are part of the program. For example, upper-tier members of a rewards program are entitled to special access or quicker service. Email program members can take advantage of sales or new product offerings a few days before other customers.

Competitive Advantage

This is external positioning and exposes the uniqueness and value of the program over competitors. Here, the messaging is focused on keeping customers from defecting to competitors. This positioning is typically used when the program is truly unique from what competitors are offering. For example, if you have a rewards program and your competition does not. Any time you hear about a rewards program as part of their advertising campaign (GolfNow®, Best Buy®, Hotels.com®), this is the positioning they are using.

Appreciation

This positioning is a bit different. Appreciation focuses on ensuring the customer recognizes your gratitude for choosing to do business with you. Appreciation can include discounts, rewards, or added value, but really focuses on the reason rather than the product. Surprise and delight is a common appreciation positioning. As an example, Citi® actually named their rewards program “Thank You” and even uses the URL thankyou.com.

 

Positioning will help determine the basic direction and strategy of your program. But most importantly, it will help attract your customers and contribute to the success of your retention marketing efforts. So, choose wisely!

 

Jay Weinberg is President of The JAY Group, a loyalty marketing company in Chicago that helps clients increase customer retention and lifetime value. jay@thejaygroup.com thejaygroup.com loyalty-leaders.com

Loyalty Landmines

5 Ways Your Customer Loyalty Program Can Backfire

Loyalty is a hot topic.  Rewards are everywhere.  Once the favored tactic of airlines and hotels, rewards programs, and loyalty programs in general, are now popping up in almost every conceivable business.  From small corner shops to Microsoft®, companies are realizing that customer retention needs plenty of attention.

However, most loyalty programs ultimately fail to meet their objectives.  And that’s a concern, as these programs are often comprehensive, costly to implement, and prominent.  Many of them get discontinued, but not without some pain, as dropping these announced programs requires communicating (aka admitting) to your customers and your bosses that your prize program has failed to perform.

Others change course to make the program feasible for the company’s bottom line.  Remember the high-profile structural changes by Starbucks® and Southwest Airlines® as they moved from visit-based to spend-based programs?

One thing about a comprehensive loyalty program is that there are a lot of moving parts, which means there are many ways the program can backfire and cause the marketing team a lot of headaches.  Here are five favorites to try and avoid when developing or restructuring a loyalty program:

Going “too rich too early”

At its core, every loyalty program has a value exchange.  Customers and the company each give something up and get something in return.  Typically, the customer will give the company the right to track purchase and other behavior and accept promotional marketing in exchange for hard and soft benefits.  And vice versa for the company.

Going “too rich too early” means that the company provides too much value at the start of the program.  This can be either in the form of a “signing bonus” or the ongoing list of benefits of the program.

This is one of the most common mistakes companies make when designing a loyalty program. Why?  Because companies are often fearful that the program will not generate enough interest, so they try to create a value offer that’s very appealing to the customer.

Unfortunately, that can backfire.  First, it is easy to take your eye off the pro forma.  All offerings need to be evaluated based on their potential ROI or cost exposure for the company.  It’s easy to develop a basket of benefits that customers will find valuable, but make sure they are affordable by the business, even in the worst-case scenario.

Second, it is easy to increase the benefits for a program, but difficult to decrease them.  Once a benefit is out there and customers are used to it, taking it away or making it less valuable (even if it only appears so from their perspective) can have consequences.

So, start from a reasonable position and inch up from there if you need to.

Assuming you need a points-based program

When people think of a loyalty program, they typically think of a points-based program.  Accumulate points for purchases and other engagement activities, then redeem them for free product in the future.  It’s a common and proven approach.  The most popular programs are based on this strategy.

However, a points-based program is definitely not for everyone.  For a points-based program to work, The payback must be meaningful.  A typical program will provide 5% of sales back in the form of rewards.  At a 50% redemption rate, the total investment is 2.5% of revenue.

So, if your average sale is $20 and the reward threshold is ten sales ($200 total sales), that translates to a reward worth $10.  Is that meaningful enough to get your customers excited?  Is it enough to get your 5x visitors to provide those five additional visits?  If not, your program could backfire due to creating an unbalanced value exchange.

Further, points can create an accounting complexity.  Accounting rules mandate that outstanding points and rewards be counted as a liability for the business, which could shed some unwanted light on the program if not addressed properly with the CFO at the outset.  That would certainly cause internal problems for the program.

Counting on lower value customers

If you set the spend threshold too high for infrequent users, your program could backfire.  Companies tend to look at the behavior of the high value customers and think, “Let’s get our low-value customers to behave like this with a rewards program.”  You need to have rational expectations of what a loyalty program can achieve.  In fact, most companies find that their programs actually perform best on the best customer segments rather than the lower value segments.  Your objective, if you are relying on improvement in lower value segments, is to try and get them from trial to one or two additional purchases.  There are certainly loyalty marketing tactics to achieve this, but a points-based program may not be the best way to do that.

Using discounts as rewards

The selection of rewards is one of the most important considerations when setting up a loyalty program (that involves rewards).  Strategists continually struggle with the balance between rewards that are meaningful and relevant for customers, but will contribute to a positive ROI to the business.  One thing we have heard loud and clear every time we ask is that customers want a reward with no string attached.  Their attitude is, “don’t reward me for my loyalty by making me spend more money to use it.”

Often, rewards are in the form of an unqualified discount or gift card.  For example, $25 in “cash” you can use on any purchase.  That’s fine, as long as there is no minimum purchase in order to use it.  Otherwise, customers will consider it a scam and your program could backfire.  Also, whatever dollar value you place on the reward should have some product or service that customers can fully purchase for that amount.

We have seen programs that offer a catalog of 3rd party merchandise, allowing customers to use accumulated points to fund a portion of the price of each product.  There are a lot of best-practice problems with this approach:

  1. The rewards are not relevant to the brand, causing a disconnect
  2. Redeeming points requires customers to buy something
  3. The value proposition is low, as the price of this merchandise is the list price, and customers can find it less expensive elsewhere

Discounts as rewards are fine.  We want their redemption to create an incremental visit and purchase.  But make sure the incremental spend is the customer’s choice, not a requirement.

Hoping for Breakage

For loyalty programs, breakage (aka spoilage) is the difference between the value of rewards issued and redeemed.  It is the amount that goes unused by customers.  Breakage is an important element to consider when designing a loyalty program.  In most cases, 30% to 70% of rewards issued will be redeemed.  For accurate financial projections, it is important to understand the projected redemption rate.

If you are going to implement a loyalty program that rewards customers, best practice is to design it so you are rooting for the customer to redeem rewards.  Your pro forma should show that customers who redeem rewards are more profitable than those who do not.  You may even implement reminder communications (email, phone, etc.) to customers to let them know they have rewards available to use.

If you find yourself rooting for breakage, there’s a good chance your program is going to backfire.

 

Loyalty marketing can pay big dividends for companies and it seems everywhere you turn there are new programs popping up.  However, designing and executing a successful program is tricky.  The formula for success involves experience, analytics, and a pinch of psychology.  So always keep your customers in mind and find that balance between their needs and yours.  First think about what is going to be relevant and motivational for them, then determine if that will provide a positive ROI for your company.  The intersection of that Venn Diagram is where your successful loyalty programs lives.

Cost Justifying a Loyalty Program – Part 1

Being in the loyalty marketing business for so many years, we have seen just about every reaction possible from CEO’s and CFO’s when we accompany the CMO to discuss the possibility of developing a program…especially one that includes “rewards”.   Usually, the CEO is open to the idea and the CFO is quite skeptical.  Sometimes the other way around.  Regardless, they always have the same question:  “How much money can we make from this?”  They’ll usually let the CMO run with the development and management of the program, but they want to know that it’s going to work…financially.

The CEO and CFO are looking for specific rationales for investing in a loyalty program.  After all, they are resource-intensive and high profile initiatives.

So, how do you provide the compelling case for a loyalty program and show how it will create an economic return for the business?  The answer depends on the type of business you have.

Here are a couple of examples.  We’ll follow-up with more in subsequent posts.

The Hockey Stick Effect

Some businesses have very high customer acquisition costs and low maintenance costs.  These guys literally live and die on customer retention.  Take the insurance industry for example.  There are considerable costs to establish the relationship, pay commission to an agent, set up the customer, fulfill all the materials for compliance, and much more.  It may take several years of premiums before that customer relationship becomes profitable.    This is a classic “hockey stick” business.  The customer must persist for several years before the relationship breaks even.    While there are opportunities to grow the customer relationship, (e.g. selling them additional insurance products) in Hockey Stick businesses the driver of profitability is customer tenure. There are lots of examples of ‘hockey stick’ businesses:  Insurance, credit cards, cable TV, wireless phones.

In hockey stick businesses, maintaining the customer relationship to the break-even point is likely the driver of the business case for loyalty.  Keeping switching costs high is important.  Rewards programs increase switching costs.  Rewards also provide a currency for maintaining retention in the face of customer service issues.  Dolling out points has overcome many service issues.

Playing Defense

Some businesses are very “top heavy”.  They have relatively few massively high value customers.   Airlines are a classic example.  Top end business travelers who travel every week and buy business class fares can spend close to $100K per year.  Moreover, for every “diamond” customer in a frequent flyer program there are scores of leisure travelers who fly once or twice per year.   These diamond members are truly the 1%; the ‘whales’ among the minnows.

In these businesses, the top 1% of customers may have an annual value of 10x to 20x more than an occasional customer.  Defense is the rationale here.  Even a small defection rate among these whales can make a considerable dent in the bottom line.  Hence, retaining these top customers is a huge driver of the business case for loyalty.  Providing high value rewards, especially increased service levels that have a high perceived value and low incremental cost, will help increase loyalty among elite customers.  Other example “whale businesses” are luxury hotels, casinos, fine dining, cosmetics, and fashion retail.

Here is an example of how to cost-justify a loyalty program for a business that is trying to defend its “whales”.

Situation:

The business is suffering defection among its highest value customers and the loyalty program’s reason for being is retaining these whales.

Use Case/Business Case:

  • Our top decile of 40,000 customers are worth, on average, $12,000 per customer per year in revenue and $4,000 per year in margin. The annual defection rate among these customers is 30%.
  • Defection among the top 10% of customer is costing $144MM per year in revenue and $48MM in margin.
    • (40,000 customers x $12,000 revenue x 30% defection = $144MM lost revenue)
    • (40,000 x $4,000 margin x 30% defection – $48MM annual lost margin)
  • By implementing a loyalty program, we believe we can reduce the defection rate among these top customers from 30% to 25%. Reducing the annual defection among these top customers by 5 percentage points will deliver $24MM annually in incremental revenue and $8MM in incremental margin.
    • (40,000 customers x $12,000 revenue x 5% reduced defection = $24MM incremental revenue)
    • (40,000 x $4,000 margin x 5% reduced defection = $8MM annual lost margin)

For more on this and some tips on how to create the “reason for being” and the business case for developing a loyalty program, please download our white paper, 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Justify a Loyalty Marketing Program.

Customer Experience and Customer Engagement: Same, Different, or Just Other Terms for CRM?

There are a couple of buzz words in marketing these days that just seem confusing to most people: Customer Experience and Customer Engagement. What are these terms? What do they mean? Are they the same or are there differences?

Let’s discuss each of them and find out.

First, both of these concepts seem to have their roots in CRM: Customer Relationship Management. CRM has been around for a long time. This is a concept that first gained popularity in the early 2000’s. However it started, the concept was quickly claimed by marketing, sales and customer service. They each had their definitions, applications and tools.

CRM is a term that can be applied to any functional business area that deals with managing customer touch points and evaluating results. This can start at the lead or prospect level and work its way through the customer lifecycle. Agencies, consulting firms and brands began to tout their experience and expertise in CRM. It was (and still is) a big buzzword. Diagrams, charts, and many Power Point presentations espoused the brilliance of the presenter in the CRM concept.

Then, somewhere around 2010, two new terms seemed to spawn from CRM – Customer Engagement and Customer Experience. Again, sales, marketing, and customer service all flocked to these concepts and tried to claim them as their own.  Agencies were now branding themselves at “customer engagement” experts and brands were gushing about how they provided “unparalleled customer experience”.  To further complicate things, now we have two terms fighting for the same acronyms!

Wait. So what changed? Are the two really that different? Or did we just give CRM a paint job? Let’s compare these two concepts and see if there really is a uniqueness or this is just another concept shuffle to keep us from getting too comfortable.

Example interactions between Customer Engagement and Customer Experience.

Example interactions between Customer Engagement and Customer Experience.

Customer experience is about the feelings you invoke in your customers regarding your brand. These are driven by all of the touch points that customers have with your brand, including those that you control and those that are outside of your control. Customer experience is arguably the most important driver of loyalty because, as the old adage goes, perception is reality.

Customer Engagement refers to a marketing strategy for how to interact in a two-way communication ecosystem with your customers. It’s both a strategy and a suite of tactics that companies use to create positive customers experiences and long-term customer loyalty.

So, the basic difference between these two concepts is that marketers use customer engagement to impact customer experience.

A company that is focused on customer experience will have a very keen understanding of their customers using data gathered through observation, data collection, and research. They will employ customer engagement strategies and tactics to improve their customer experiences, measuring the outcomes through increases in behavior and/or attitude.

Bottom line…Customer Experience and Customer Engagement are indeed unique concepts. Like so much other jargon, they are often used incorrectly and interchangeably. So keep these distinctions in mind the next time you hear someone talk about Customer Experience and Customer Engagement.

Sarah Orlando

The JAY Group

Surprisingly Pleasant Service Experiences Highlight 4 Lessons in Loyalty

If there is one industry that takes a hit when it comes to customer service, it’s the telecom industry.  It’s hard to find someone who has not had a horror story experience with their phone company or wireless service provider.  However, a couple of recent experiences point out both an improvement and some important lessons in customer loyalty marketing.  Here are the stories…

Problems with my wireless billing and data usage plan led me to call my provider, Verizon Wireless.  Their website was actually easy to log into and navigate, as well as find a support number.  After an acceptable number of digits pressed, a friendly voice asked how she could help.  Because I was on my mobile phone, there was no need to ask me the same information I had just keyed in, and we got right to the heart of the issue.

The issue was relatively easy and was quickly solved.  There was one item that she was not sure about and she said she would investigate it and get back to me.  She then checked my usage and noticed that I could save $10 per month with a simple change.  As a customer, I felt like she went out of her way to help me, despite the fact that it lowers Verizon’s revenue by over $100 per year.  Now, what do you think would happen if the call was actually being “monitored for quality assurance”?  Would my friendly advocate get praised or scolded?

I like to think Verizon is enlightened enough to know that what she did was actually better for the company’s bottom line.

The end of the call was my favorite part.  She ask to make sure there were no other issues, said thanks for calling, and hung up.  No long, scripted speech about Verizon’s commitment and valued customers.  Are you listening, Comcast?

What happened next surprised me even more.

A couple of days later I got a call from the same rep.  She was following up on the one unresolved item and letting me know the outcome.  She was also checking to make sure everything was now OK.  No sales pitch.  No speeches.  Just a friendly follow-up by the SAME rep.

The second experience came a few weeks later.  One of our employees was going to Europe for a couple of weeks.  She has a company-owned phone, so I asked her to call Verizon to get international calling enabled.  She did so, but they needed my authority as the main contact.  As I was walking to work I got a call from Verizon.  It was a service agent who mentioned that he had our employee on the other line and needed me to approve the additional service.  I said yes, he thanked me, and that was it.  The entire conversation took about 30 seconds, just long enough to wait for the light and cross Orleans St.

So those are my stories.  Let’s go back and pull them apart. There are some really great loyalty lessons in there that almost any organization can apply.

Understanding Customer Lifetime Value

Verizon is a data-rich organization.  They have a wealth of information on all individuals and organizations and have developed strong models to understand both past and predicted value of each customer.  They also understand that the most important factor for improving lifetime value is keeping me as a customer.  Infinitely more important than any upgrades or cross-sells they could possibly hook me into.

Verizon clearly understands the importance of retention and these service experiences provided some proof:

  1. Value my time. We are all busy, and the last thing we want to be doing is dealing with the phone company.  By focusing on user experience both on their site and one the phone, Verizon shows that they value my time.  By limiting or forgoing the standard closing statement, Verizon again shows that they value my time.  Telling me how they value me as a customer and repeating their latest slogan does nothing.  Demonstrating it is what matters.
  2. Be my advocate. This is a strategy that the best performers all understand and use effectively.  Saving me $10/month on a bill that averages over $300 makes financial sense.  It makes me feel valued.  It creates an emotional bond, which improves REAL loyalty.  If that tactic results in an increase in customer retention by just a few days, Verizon comes out ahead.  And I have no doubt that is does.
  3. Follow up. Part of being an advocate is following up when necessary to ensure satisfaction.  Verizon did not go overboard with this.  A simple, quick touch point is all it takes to instill positive emotional loyalty.  This was a lesson I learned many years ago when we made follow-up calls to first-time progressive lens (no line bifocals) buyers for an optical chain client.  That simple call produced a verified ROI of close to 700%.
  4. Understand the critical path. Verizon needed my approval to add the international package.  Traditionally, they would have told my colleague to have me call in, get routed through 3 agents, explain the situation (as if I was an expert) to each one, then go through a myriad of security checks to verify my identity so they can push a button and charge me more money.  That creates multiple unnecessary touch points, eats up valuable time, and causes negative emotions.  Instead, Verizon understood that there is a quicker, easier path to completion.  Just call the person from whom you need approval.  They may actually answer.  And when they do, get to the point.

Finally, I don’t know whether these experiences were exceptions or the norm.  Regardless, positive examples are always welcome.  It is especially refreshing to see this in a large, complex, regulated organization like Verizon.  I feel for the loyalty marketers at these large companies who are blocked and frustrated daily by financial and legal overseers.  These cannot be easy policies to implement.

So think about your customers and their experience.  How can you better value their time through your interactions?  Remember the critical path and always try to keep to it.  Understand lifetime value and that lowering revenue in the present only hurts if you don’t increase retention.  And how can you follow-up just to make sure everything is OK?  There are plenty of ways to automate this, and the payback will surely outweigh the effort.