Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grinding the Axe...

Consumers across the world have been receiving communications stating their reward points have been devalued, but few of them have stated why or what next?

Dropping the value of reward points, withdrawing privileges, reducing the life of points etc. are common techniques that come into play when strains appear on the bottom line. These are justifiable business measures and would make the finance chaps (and rightfully) rub their hands in glee.

As a preferred loyal consumer, if my lounge access were withdrawn suddenly, I'm clearly not going to be a thrilled loyalist. I would vent and unleash my angst on the brand and its stakeholders, as I've just been told that "I am not special anymore". And here lies the crux of the matter for the financial stakeholders in a company.....Surviving Today v/s Sustaining Tomorrow.

When the tough call of diluting / withdrawing the benefits of a programme are undertaken, take a moment to switch your views and talk to the consumer in you.

A few aproaches that you may like to consider:
1. All OR Some : Do you need to grind the axe on the benefits for all the customers or some? Apply Pareto and compute impact.
2. Price : This may actually be an opportunity for you to price some of your services. Convert a challenge to an opportunity (sounds cliched but quite true). The customers who see true value may actually pay you for it
3. Why are you doing this? : Have a dialogue with your customers. Tell them why you're doing this. Assure them that you're with them over the long haul and this is a temporary blip. They may not like it, but they would understand, which is equally important.
4. What does your brand stand for? : Ensure that your actions are in line with your brand's value system.
5. Measure long term Impact : Its great to compute immediate impact to your bottom line. But also measure and be aware of the future economic impact of losing customers and the cost of getting them back on board. You may still take the call, but be sure to inform yourself and the other stakeholders.

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