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I live in a small town and our only shoe store, Payless Shoes, recently went out of business. And while their liquidation sales were awesome – $2 per pair boys dress shoes? I bought one in every size! – now what?

Between my elementary-aged kids’ ever changing shoe sizes, and my inability to be comfortable in anything more confining than a flip flop, I never buy shoes online.

In case you missed it, Payless Shoes recently closed every store and its ecommerce operations in US and Canada “as a result of a challenging retail climate.”

If you believe the news, you’d probably say Payless is just the next chain in a long line of mega-retailers to fall victim to the dreaded retail apocalypse.

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It seems these days everyone has a loyalty program – coffee shops, restaurants, airlines, education associations, hotels, retailers, etc.

And if you’re not currently rewarding your loyal customers and members for their stellar engagement and dedication to your brand or organization, then it's probably time to get moving.

Why? Because 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program, 77% say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands, and 63% say they modify their spending habits to maximize loyalty benefits.

Not only are a lot of businesses, brands and organizations offering loyalty programs, member benefits and discount programs, but a lot of consumers and members are actively participating in them, too.

We're talking 43% of 18-24 year olds, 57% of 25-34 year olds, 66% of 35-44 year olds, 71% of 55-64 year olds and 65% of 65+ years who currently participate in at least one loyalty program.

So, we thought it’d be a good idea to once again delve into our 2018 and 2019 loyalty stats pages to gain some insight on what people really want out of their loyalty program(s).

After all, if a loyalty program is going to effectively do its job – creating higher engagement and long-term loyalty among users – then it has to offer relevant value. So let’s find out what members think is and isn’t valuable when it comes to loyalty programs – at least according to the data.

We’ve ranked these loyalty attributes on a scale of “Heck Yes” → “Nice to Have” → “No Thanks.

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Access is often used by subscription services as a way for them to bring extra value to their product and customers. Discounts offered on or with these subscription-based services are more relevant than ever before as their popularity continues to increase. And we’re predicting this trend will only continue to pick up steam as it’s already grown by more than 100% a year over the past five years.

But what do we mean by “subscription services” exactly?

A subscription service involves paying a certain amount of money in regular intervals to receive a product or service –  everything from magazine subscriptions (i.e. People), to TV and music streaming (i.e. HBO NOW & Apple Music) and subscription boxes (i.e. Birchbox).

15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions and the average amount of subscriptions an active subscriber holds is two, but nearly 35% have three or more.

And as popular as these services are becoming, they are just as popularly being canceled (known in the industry as "churn"). Overall, 40% of e-commerce subscribers have canceled their subscriptions, with more than one-third canceling in less than three months and over half canceling within six.

The subscription service game is a hard one to play. With high churn rates, consumers are looking for some kind of added value that makes them stay - a big part of the reason so many of them start working with Access. So what is it that influences consumers to 1) sign up for a subscription service, 2) cancel it, or 3) become a long-term customer? These stats offer some insight:

Why do people say they sign up for subscription services?

  • It was recommended by someone (68%)
  • They wanted to try something new (66%)
  • It came with a financial incentive (65%)
  • They specifically needed the product (37%)
  • They liked the subscription model (34%)
  • It had the flexibility to cancel (30%)

Reasons given for cancelling subscriptions:

  • Insufficient value for the money (78%)
  • Dissatisfied with product/experience (77%)
  • Preference to buy when needed (69%)
  • Lack of flexibility (45%)
  • Found better subscription (30%)

Factors that positively influence retention among subscribers

  • Personalized experience (78%)
  • Convenience (56%)
  • Value for the money (54%)
  • Tailored experience (49%)
  • Surprise and delight (38%)
  • Sense of community (24%)

Because of the current trendiness when it comes to subscription services and the fairly saturated market for them right now, we thought it’d be interesting to highlight 10 subscription service picks that we think are doing it right and bringing value to the customer.

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Last week, we released the article Superior Customer Service: Your Loyalty Program’s Secret Weapon. In it, we discussed the importance of customer service to any business, but especially to those with loyalty programs, which rely on a positive customer experience to succeed. In part 2 of this series below, we give some tips on how to enhance your own customer service efforts.

I worked in a call center. Briefly.

Fresh out of college, I wanted to be making money as I searched for a “real job” so I took a position that was notoriously easy to get, at a place that would hire just about anyone.

Admittedly, this company put a lot of effort into training according to client expectations. However, it’s very hard to make a group of teens, job seekers, recently laid-off, etc., really care.

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Confession time. Whenever I have to call customer service, I always cringe, waiting for that dreaded phone tree before I ever get to talk to a person.

I think my record is 18 selections before I got frustrated and pounded 0, which wasn’t listed but thankfully sent me to the operator anyway.

Seriously, I prefer to use a company’s website to find hours of operation, pay bills, and all the other automated tasks you usually find in a phone tree.

So unless one of your options is “If you would like to hear a duck quack” then I’m probably not going to find my answer automated in your system. No, if I’m resorting to dialing a number, I want to talk to a person, dang it.

Rant over.

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When membership organizations make bad decisions, we can learn a lot from their mistakes. Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at ten easy ways to smother member loyalty and engagement.  About a 7 minute read.

My role as a marketing consultant has allowed me to work with all types and sizes of membership organizations. From large organizations with a million or so members, to small non-profit and trade groups with just a few thousand members. Most organizations seem to get it. They’ve figured out how to adapt to meet the unique needs of their members, and they can seamlessly integrate our discount platform into their existing suite of member benefits and privileges.

A few others -- dare I say -- are unprepared for success.

They have so many fundamental problems with how they run their organization that adding a powerful engagement tool like ours will actually make matters worse.

After more than a decade in working with various groups, I’ve noticed some important patterns among the few groups that struggle the most. The ones that have a knack for suffocating member engagement.

I think there’s great value in learning from the mistakes of others, so here’s my list of the ten easiest ways an organization can smother their member loyalty and engagement: 

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I joined a professional association once. Over the course of several years and thousands of dollars, this is what I had received for joining: a useful PowerPoint on writing press releases.

That’s all. Obviously, that relationship didn’t last too long. The press releases I’ve constructed since are better, I suppose. Worth my investment into the organization? Eh, nope.

Ask someone why they join a professional association and they’ll offer up networking, educational opportunities, certifications, or representation. All important and vital functions of any association.

Then, ask someone why they won’t renew a membership, or why they’re not interested in joining at all, and they’ll tell you it’s because they didn’t see the personal value in it. There’s just not enough in it for them to justify the expenditure.

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I have a confession to make.

I’m 31 years old (almost 32 actually) and I LOVE Disney more now than I did as a kid.

In fact, here’s a little list of all my Disney favorites:

Favorite Disney Character - Snow White

Favorite Disney Movie - The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills version)

Favorite Disney Channel Show – Lizzie McGuire

Favorite Disney Ride - Space Mountain (with Splash Mountain as a close 2nd)

Favorite Disney Park Food - Chocolate-covered Mickey Mouse ice cream bar

Favorite Disney Memory - On a family trip to Disney World, we did a character breakfast and my little brother had to be taken out of the room because he was terrified of Jafar.

Favorite Disney Apparel - An oversized Mickey sweatshirt I’ve had since elementary school that is still my favorite thing to wear to bed.

I’m sure there are a lot of Disney fanatics out there who can relate and have lists of their own Disney obsessions.

Well, for all you Disney lovers out there, we at Access have some BIG news around upcoming summer attractions and exclusive magical savings to the happiest place on earth.

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You’ve probably heard it called customer success – after all, that’s what it’s known by in most of the business world.

Here at Access, we call it client success and we have an entire department dedicated to it.

Or you could call it member success. While not a buzz word, this would be just as relevant a term.

What am I talking about?

All these describe the idea that companies should strategize their business plan with the end user in mind. And little by little, it has taken over the business world mindset and become the preferred way to gain an audience’s loyalty – and all the benefits that come with it.

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When it comes to running a member benefits or loyalty program, your mama had it all figured out.

In honor of mothers everywhere (including mine who's been a mom for 71 of her 90 years), I’d like to share some life lessons learned from the mother hen herself – and how they can be used as best practices in running a successful membership discount club or loyalty program. 

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