4 Foundational Principles for a Seamless and Successful Enrollment Process for Your Customer Loyalty Program

How to Make an Impactful First Impression With Your Enrollment Process Using 4 Key Tips

Stephanie Patchev, PhD

Written by Stephanie Patchev, PhD

April 22, 2020 | Reading Time: 10 Minutes

4 Foundational Principles for a Seamless and Successful Enrollment Process for Your Customer Loyalty Program

„Before winning, there is always the beginning.“
German Proverb

Enrollment is the first touchpoint your customer has with your loyalty program. Here, they make their first practical experience with the program, receive information about your benefits promise, provide you with the first data for your Customer360 machinery and start their journey in your benefits world.

You need to ensure that this first experience is a positive one through and through, because you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression! If the first effort is unsuccessful, your customer won’t make a second attempt at enrolling in your benefits program (see the psychological principle of cognitive dissonance).

Where and how can your customers enroll in your benefits program? What exactly does the registration process look like? Make your customer the focal point of these decisions.

If your customer has a great experience right from the start of enrollment, this positively impacts further decisions and interactions within the program. A seamless and valuable user experience during the enrollment process makes a convincing first impression and will also have a positive impact on your brand perception!

We recommend following these 4 basic principles when designing your registration process:

1. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)!

The simpler the enrollment in your customer loyalty program is, the better the user experience for your customers. It must be immediately clear to your customers what is required of them to enroll as a member.

Another mandatory requirement for your enrollment process is that it runs error-free and without any technical complications. Offer your customers a smooth and pleasant enrollment experience as part of an optimal user experience.

The clearer, easier, and more practical the enrollment process is, the higher your subscription rate will be – and the faster you will be able to build a membership base.

2. Make Use of All Important Channels

Here you can draw on the strategic foundation of your program:

  • Which touchpoints does your customer have with your company?
  • Which channels does your customer use?
  • Through which channels does your customer prefer to interact with your brand?

Accordingly, when choosing the enrollment options for your bonus program, be sure to use the channels which are important for your customers – whether they be offline (e.g., at the cash register or through enrollment forms) or online/ mobile (e.g., on the website or in the app). This enables your customers to register wherever and whenever they wish. This flexibility within the registration process delivers a positive first impression and also increases your subscription rate!

3. Only Ask for the Essentials

No one readily gives out their personal details. This kind of trust needs to first be earned. So, only require essential information at the beginning, such the future member’s name and email address. This helps you keep the reluctance towards enrollment as minimal as possible. The more information you require from your customers at the beginning, the more likely it becomes they will change their minds (the underlying concept of the socio-psychological phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance).

Also, including too many optional fields can unnecessarily inflate the enrollment process and make it confusing (as a result, 88% of users enter incomplete or incorrect data into the enrollment form). You will still have ample opportunities throughout your customer loyalty program to collect more customer data by polling or requesting completion of the customer profile and by incentivizing and rewarding the sharing of such details.

Your customers might find it especially practical if they can enroll with an existing (e.g. social media) account. This saves them the step of having to reenter their information. But be careful: Keeping the GDPR in mind, you need to know exactly which data is being tapped and stored and for what purpose by the integrated provider (without your control). This option includes a certain dependency on third parties, which is not always ideal.

4. Show Your Customers How Much You Value Their Loyalty

Once their registration is complete, welcome your customers heartily to your loyalty program. This is a valuable opportunity to show them right from the start how much you value them as customers and as participants in your program.

For example, to greet them and congratulate them on their membership, you can send them a personalized welcome message in the form of an email or a posted letter. When done well, even such a small gesture like a personalized message can exceed your customer’s expectations and thus be used as a positive surprise – a so-called “surprise and delight” element.

In making your welcome greeting as personal and as memorable as possible, you make your customers feel that they are now part of a great community and a truly unique experience.

As your budget allows, you can also create an impressive surprise moment through a welcome gift. How about a personalized version of one of your products accompanied by a postcard: “Welcome, [Julia]! You are now a part of our wonderful loyalty community”. You could then thank them for their trust and loyalty and summarize all the great benefits that await the new member in your customer loyalty program.

Another possibility would be to put the benefits and incentive strategy of your loyalty program into play right away, by gifting your members with a starting points balance on their awards account or a discount coupon for their next purchase. This simultaneously allows your customer to experience your appreciation and creates an added motivation to enroll and become active immediately in your program.

To summarize: The more personal, warm, relevant, and unusual your welcome element, the more valuable the impression logged in the minds of your customers – and that has many benefits for you as well:

Benefits of an effective welcome communication

An effective welcome communication can raise your program engagement by 33%. Members who have just been delighted by your welcome message are 50% more likely to open your next communication.

And the benefits are even more far-reaching: If your customer is really thrilled by your surprise gift, their enthusiasm can lead to a word-of-mouth communication chain or even social media buzz!

Case study: How TD Bank generated a social media buzz via „suprise & delight”

A moving example of this concept is the U.S. national bank TD Bank, which employed the surprise and delight approach in the campaign #TDThanksYou: To thank their longstanding customers, TD installed a special ATM at several branches: An Automated Thanking Machine.

Due to the nature of their personal customer relationships, bank advisors have special knowledge of the life situations of their clients, and thus a deeper insight into what kind of appreciation they would truly enjoy. Using these insights, emotional gifts were selected for individual customers and then dispensed by the “Automated Thanking Machines” – which initially looked like a normal ATM. For example, a single mother received tickets for Disneyland, another mother a plane ticket to visit her sick daughter, and a young man was gifted with a once-in-a-lifetime experience with his favorite sports team.

The ATM experience of the customers was captured on video and triggered a massive social media buzz. One of the most popular videos has already received 24 million views on YouTube. With these gifts, TD makes it clear: they are not only concerned with the bank balance of their customers, but also care about and have an interest in their day-to-day lives.

The #TDThanksYou campaign shows that when you focus on your emotional connection to your customers, it immediately takes the communication to another more meaningful level. The customer is deeply moved: they feel truly understood and valued as a person. Here, positive memories emerge which they are happy to share with others. The positive association created by this first impression not only boosts your subscription rate, it elevates your brand and your business as a whole.


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About The authors

Stephanie Patchev, PhD

Stephanie Patchev, PhD

formerly Content Specialist | Loyalty Prime

Stephanie is truly passionate about outstanding, well-researched content that inspires people. With her background in Neurosciences, she has a deep understanding about the bio-psychological basis of customer behavior and customer loyalty.