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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Credit unions interested in designing a winning loyalty/rewards package should keep it relevant, simple and convenient. A recent Maritz Loyalty Marketing poll finds that when consumers leave a loyalty/rewards program, 70% cite the length of time it takes to build up points as the primary reason. In the “critical” 18-24 age group, the number jumps to 79%. “Marketers need to provide consumers with realistic and achievable goals,” said Gail Sneed, market development director at Maritz Loyalty Marketing. “Particularly with the crucial college-age demographic, it’s the chance to win or lose a lifelong member.” The Maritz Poll also found that consumer defection resulted from other perceived problems with rewards programs, such as: “not being rewarded properly” (23%), “disliked the fee” (22%), “disliked the reward options” (20%), “program rules kept changing” (17%), “poor customer service” (16%) and “other programs seemed better” (18%). High-income individuals earning annual salaries over $125,000 spend money and collect points at a faster rate, but they are particularly choosy and likely to comparison shop. Some 27% of this demographic left a rewards program because “another company’s program seemed better” or they didn’t like the reward options. “The member has to be able to believe that they can earn an appealing reward in a reasonable amount of time. Effective loyalty programs use analysis and modeling tools to ensure the right rewards are offered to the right members and are achievable within a reasonable length of time,” said Sneed. “Programs that customize potential rewards based on the individual customer’s hobbies and interests hugely increase reward program satisfaction.” The Maritz survey also revealed the importance of the Internet as a communication tool. When asked, 58% said they prefer to be updated about their rewards programs through the Internet and some 9% state that they have even stopped participating in a rewards program because they receive too much mail from the company. This trend is even more common among customers in the 18 – 24 age group: 65% say they prefer communication about rewards programs via the Internet, and 13% have stopped participating in a rewards program because they received too much mail from the company. “A robust loyalty program will include a link on the company’s Web site where customers can immediately access their reward points, easily determine required point values, and redeem points with the click of a mouse,” said Sneed.

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