Editor’s note: Once in a while it’s good to revisit the basics. For us that means reviewing the structure, value proposition, and delivery methods of a specific loyalty program. Today we review Verizon Up, the updated version of Verizon Smart Rewards.
Verizon launched an upgraded customer loyalty program, named Verizon Up, and it might just be the best loyalty program you’ve never heard about.
Launched in August 2017, the program is a next gen edition of Verizon Smart Rewards, the wireless giant’s first foray into customer loyalty. We found the program to offer significant value to users of its wireless services, with the one downfall being a lack of communication about the program to drive customer awareness and engagement. Here’s the story.
Awareness is Key
Transcending the ingrained preference of the wireless industry to invest almost exclusively in customer acquisition, Verizon Up delivers interesting value through a variety of reward options. The question is, why have we just become aware of this program?
At the Wise Marketer, it is our job to track program launches, trends, and everything else to do with customer loyalty, so it’s fair to say that we had tracked Smart Rewards previously and “knew” about the new program launch. The head-scratcher is that it was only recently that our staff started to talk about the program around the office.
As consumers, how did we find out about the program? We noticed promotion of Verizon Up in an email designed to remind us when our monthly bill was due. That prompt created curiosity and several people moved on to download the My Verizon app. That action by itself can be useful to manage your account and pay your bill — but of course, most importantly, gain access to Verizon Up.
Once the loyalty feature is activated, a quick scan revealed that “Rewards you really want” were available to all customers. The only catch is that in order to take advantage of the benefits of the program, you have to regularly open the app. And, don’t forget to approve notifications to be sent from the My Verizon app in your mobile device. We didn’t do this at first and missed out on over $50 of Device Credits. More about that in a moment.
Overall, the variety, choice, and value of rewards is compelling
Each month, Members can choose among a list of monthly rewards; here are the latest:
- $10 device dollars
- $ 5 Starbucks card
- $10 off select accessories
- $5 Uber Credits
These awards are available with a 30-day expiration, meaning Members must check in to the app regularly to ensure they don’t miss out.
Device Dollars are the only rewards that can be accumulated over time. Device Dollars can be used on a smartphone, basic phone or tablet upgrade, or a new line of service; these expire 24 months after being claimed.
And then there are more Rewards
In addition to these monthly rewards, Verizon Up offers Bonus Rewards, Exclusive Offers, and Local Offers. Bonus Offers are extras and perks that don’t require a “credit” and change each month. Many of these were “dollars off” purchases of a phone accessory and were roughly equivalent in value to the monthly rewards listed above.
Exclusive Offers are positioned with a count-down clock and Members can gain access to the reward on a first-come, first-served basis. While that is a good engagement tool, the bigger challenge for Verizon is to create communications external to the app to remind customers of these time-sensitive offers.
Local Offers were fun to browse and discover. Members can search by zipcode and distance to discover offers that range from restaurants, to fitness clubs, and to boat rentals. Some of these rewards were single use while others could be selected multiple times. In our area, we found this sample list as an example:
- Little Caesars (fee menu item with purchase)
- Papa Johns (30% off online orders)
- Steak Shop and Deli (25% off total bill)
- Muscle Maker (free menu item with purchase of same)
- PDQ (free menu item with purchase of same)
- ATA Fit (50% off first month classes)
- Boat rental ($100 off)
- Subway (free 6’ sub with purchase of another)
- Rockin Jump (one free admission, $14 max)
There are options in redemptions
The digital wallet in the Verizon Up app has three main categories: Choose, Use, and Track. Of course, clicking on “Choose” allowed a customer to select a reward for placement in the wallet. Going to “Use” allows Members to select a reward from the wallet for redemption. My first experiment with redemption was a bit of fail, as my attempted search to fulfill a Starbucks gift card produced a message that the “transaction could not be completed at this time”. I hope I remember to visit the app again before it expires!
That brings me to the “Track” tab in the wallet. I was disappointed to see that I had missed out on five separate monthly rewards, as they showed up as “not claimed”. While I’ll take responsibility for not having my notification services on for the app, it was mildly crushing to think that I had missed out on $50 of Device Dollars.
Verizon Up loyalty program has room for improvement
The Verizon Up program offers great value to its Members. I’m hoping that my first reward redemption experience was an exception. The biggest opportunity for improvement is in how Verizon communicates this program to its Members, and to customers who have not yet joined.
More reinforcement of the program value is needed via email to raise awareness and stimulate enrollments. Once a Member, there should be specific communications to Members alerting them to reward availability and potential expiration. Now that I’ve activated my notifications for the app, maybe I’ll see more informative traffic coming my way. I hope that I will have the opportunity to designate my favorite communications channel, i.e. text or email.
Kudos and big high-fives to Verizon for creating Verizon Up. It satisfies a pent-up demand from existing customers to be recognized, not just seek to acquire new ones. Maybe tiering of the program will be seen in the future. It would make sense to adjust rewards by account value.
Overall, great job, Verizon!