On the UX of Loyalty Programs

Ildikó Tuck
June 28, 2016

This isn’t a strictly web app related topic, however it does have a strong online component. We build applications to solve our client’s problems. Whatever we build are mere tools used to get certain things done. Take loyalty programs as an example: last time I moved house, I had to shop a lot - both online and in real life. As a direct result of this, I am now a member of several loyalty programs (I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind giving out their personal information to get a tangible benefit). I wouldn’t like to get into the details of whether or not this is a good thing - it clearly depends on the benefit you get. What I’d like to point out are some of the most common user experience hurdles encountered while trying to use some of these programs.

Forcing Your Users to Remember (or find) their Member Number

The member number is something you generate so that you can attach rewards to a member. Making them remember this number and enter it every time they log in to your online platform is troublesome. Why not use an email address instead? Why do I need to dig out my little plastic card every time I want to log in? Source:

If You Absolutely Must Make the Member Number Relevant, Make it Easy to Find

Especially if you are using the member number as a way to access the online platform; please send that member number out in your offer email communications. As a user, having to search your email to find that very first one that has the member number is incredibly annoying. Why not add it to all the offers? Source: Qantas Newsletter I like Qantas’ approach on this: the newsletter starts with a recap of the essentials. Whenever I book a flight with them, I know that I need to search my inbox for a newsletter to find my Frequent Flier number. That’s easy!

Not Allowing Tailoring of Offers

Chances are, once someone buys a fridge or a washing machine, they will not be interested in offers on fridges and washing machines for a while I’m amazed at how often this simple fact is missed by retailers who keep on promoting the same type of product that you’ve just bought from them. Having an “offers I’m interested in” section somewhere under your loyalty program management helps retaining those loyal customers by cutting down on the noise and only offering what they’re indeed interested in. As illustrated by the above, people’s interests change quite often depending on their needs so it’s an especially good idea to promote this “offers I’m interested in” category once in a while; it may help reduce unsubscribes.

Having a Confusing Structure, or Multiple Logins

Chances are, the logic of your rewards program and account types are clear to your team. They know what each “cool sounding” name means and what it allows you to do. But chances are, this isn’t entirely clear to your users. Rather than having various account types such as “online shopper”, “loyalty program member” and so on, just stick to one. Have one account and one program: if someone registers, ask them if they want to collect points. If so, sign them up for the rewards area. If not, then leave them as they were. Just don’t make them remember various logins for each and don’t ask them to log in with the right one every time. Source:

The above example is what Howard’s Storage World shows you after clicking “sign in”, along with a long registration form below this that I cut off for the screenshot. They have a separate “register” link in the header, so it’s unclear what’s going on here. Returning customer? Inspirations member? And then it defaults to “Register New Account” even though they already know that I’m trying to sign in (because I clicked the sign in link). This puzzles me every time; I have no idea whether my account with them is an “inspirations” one or a regular one and I have no interest in figuring out. I don’t understand why there are two areas, and the little red NOTE doesn’t help much either. I hope these points helped in making your system’s loyalty program a bit clearer. In a world where almost everyone is offering some sort of program, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for the users if you want them to use yours.

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