A Case of Mistaken Identity?

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on October 26, 2019

The day wasn’t anything special, but it was a day for doing errands and I thought I would stop in to a local retailer and buy a bottle of wine. I decided to visit a well-known retailer in my area that has dozens of stores throughout my state.

Submitted by: Anonymous

I don’t buy enough wine and spirits to get much value from a loyalty program from this retailer, but since I am inquisitive about how these programs work, I was pretty sure I had joined their “Royalty” program in the past.

When I say “pretty sure”, it is because when I was at check-out and the cashier asked me if I was a member of their rewards program, I said “I think so, but I’m not sure”. Then I asked what was needed to see if they could find my membership. “Just give me your last name and I’ll look you up” was the response from the helpful cashier.

I gave her my name and after scrolling through screens on her computer, she looked at me and said “I have two of you here with the same last name … what’s your birthday?”. I told her and she found me in the system. I was thinking the other profile might have been a duplicate, so I asked the cashier if it was the case. “No” she replied, “this one is Elizabeth”.  This was a surprise to me as my daughter’s name was Elizabeth. And Elizabeth was under 21 years of age.

The next opportunity I had to talk with Elizabeth, I asked her if she was a member of Royalty. She admitted that she had been able to join. Looking for a silver lining in the story, I told her that while the bad news was that she had duped the system, the good news was that she wasn’t a top tier member of the program!

What’s the lesson here? It’s tied to a combination of employee training and data privacy. Protection of member data should be the highest priority in operating a loyalty program. And employees need training to know when casual conversation can cross an invisible line and effectively breach the trusting relationship between brand and the customer.

I don’t hold the cashier at fault. She was earnest in trying to help me get credit for a purchase and clearly did not know that revealing the identity of another program member had potentially negative implications. I do hold the retailer at fault for not equipping this employee with the knowledge and training to manage inquiries about its loyalty program at the point-of-sale in a way that provided good service, but protected precious customer data.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) passed into California law on June 28, 2018. It is the most powerful state legislation enacted to date in the US giving power to consumers in protecting their data. If marketers don’t take the lead in setting data protection standards, then consumer advocates will continue to enact laws that will change the data-driven marketing business forever.

Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and demonstrate that brands are worthy of trust in protecting our personal data.

This is Real. Life. Loyalty. This story is mine and you have yours.

Share your stories via submissions@thewisemarketer.com and we’ll all benefit.