Making Rewards More Rewarding

It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times to be in the financial industry -- both as an innovator and a consumer. As mobile and online banking continue to grow, new territories in the customer experience sectors are still up for grabs, including rewards. Simply having rewards isn’t enough, though; they have to be creative and tailored to the customers you're serving.

Here are a few tips to consider when developing your rewards program:

Set Goals – Set a clear goal for your rewards program, such as better customer retention, faster acquisition, or increased visit frequency. Many financial companies create multiple customer loyalty programs with different goals, incentivizing customers to take different actions. You should likely do the same. Rewards programs are an essential part of the marketing funnel, and customers will review them when choosing a bank or other financial institution.

Treat your Rewards Like They’re a Product  – While rewards are viewed as table stakes at this point, that doesn’t mean that simply having them is enough. It’s essential that they look, feel, and function in accordance with your brand and ethos. This extends to how they are communicated to your customers as well -- as much as we’d like to ‘set it and forget it,’ a simple but sparse solution may only work in the short term. It’s the long-term success that you're after.

Use Data and Automation – Making data-driven decisions and adding efficiencies is the key to making your rewards program scale. While being thoughtful and deliberate is essential, it’s still important to know your customers' values and ensure you’re empowering them to pursue those things. Perks like concert tickets and airport lounge access are exciting, but it’s the everyday purchases and habits that your customers will appreciate being rewarded for.

In the end, simplicity is key, and we see evidence of that in every great product and service out there today. You don’t always have to offer free products and services; some of the most successful rewards programs today are simple cashback rewards, discounts on loans and mortgages, and no ATM fees. As long as your customers feel like they're saving money and being supported in their pursuits, they will be happy!