Why did you launch a “gold-plated” rewards program for your premium customers who enjoy paying a pretty penny for their coffee and lattes but force them to wait for rewards satisfaction?
Starbucks’ Gold Loyalty Rewards launched in Canada on October 4, 2011. In short, the program allows consumers to earn a star for every purchase made with a registered card. Achievement gets rewarded even further:
When you collect 30 Stars in a year you’ll be reward and recognized for your visits by becoming a Gold Card member. This means you’ll get a free drink with every 15 stars, plus special offers, coupons and your very own personalized Gold Card.
The main problem is that Starbucks would mail you a postcard (if you were lucky to ever get one - I haven’t since the program launched) to earn this free drink - wait times, 7-14 business days. Ouch.
- You’re a premium brand
- You sell expensive coffee. drinks, food and snacks
- You distribute premium offers from Apple iTunes - music, movie rentals, apps
- You promote a premium retail experience
- You launch an elaborate, well-promoted Gold Rewards program
- You release a premium iOS app locked to my gold card for card-less tracking of my purchases
- You generate $42 million dollars in your closed-loop payment platform (See VentureBeat Article)
- YET, you mail me a postcard which will take between 7-14 days. NOTE: Never received any at time 15 stars were earned (in every instance, I’ve had to call)
Sometimes, it’s better to leave good things to the end. Give us the premium experience from the start versus halfway. Your customers shouldn’t be guinea pigs; especially, when they pay for a premium product. This isn’t a big knock against the Seattle coffee-maker. On the whole, they maintain a quality of service that is consistent based on my own experience a retail locations worldwide.
That said, if I were head of digital, I would have deferred in delivering a sub-par experience on the redemption side of earned rewards because that is where it really counts. It’s at the cash register. It’s not about the fuzzy stars accumulating in the digital cup on my iPhone iOS app.
You asked, we delivered. Welcome to the My Starbucks Rewards™ pilot program, only available to residents in the Pittsburgh area.
Starting April 23, you’ll no longer receive postcards in the mail for your free earned drinks or birthday drink. Instead, your free drinks will be loaded onto your registered Starbucks Card automatically.
My track record with the postcards:
- ZERO cards received after 75 earned stars
- Each time, I’ve had to contact Starbucks customer service
Thank you for contacting Starbucks.
I checked your account, and we have sent 4 replacement coupons to your home. These should be received in about 7 to 14 business days.
We appreciate your feedback as to electronic delivery of rewards. At this time, we have a pilot program in Pittsburgh, PA. Hopefully by the end of the year, it will be available to all Starbucks customers.