Best Buy Having Loyalty Issues

A lesson can be learned from Best Buy – and not necessarily a good one.

Best Buy’s Loyalty Program, Reward Zone, has been around for a number of years.  The point values have changed a bit and customers are no longer asked to pay an annual fee to participate, but much of it – earn points to receive coupons worth dollars off of a purchase – has remained the same.

Any time a Reward Zone member makes a purchase in the store, they are asked to confirm their address to make sure it is current.  I have bought a considerable amount of items in their stores over the years and have confirmed my address plenty of times since moving in October ’09.

The comedy of errors began last Monday when I went to buy THE THRONE Best Buy Exclusive Special Edition by Jay Z and Kanye West.  All of the sudden, my old address was showing up.  When I told them it was incorrect, I was told they couldn’t change it in the store AND I wouldn’t get any points for the transaction because I had told them the address was incorrect.  Knowing that it was a larger database issue that seems like it reverted back to an old version – affecting many more people than me – I said something to them.  There’s no need to go into the details of what happened in the store as I knew they really have no control of it on that level, but the lack of concern and the repeating mantra about my going online to change the address back was almost humorous.

I got back to the office and tried to get into the system and found that the whole system was down, not allowing me to use my credentials to get in and just giving a myriad of issues.

When I finally remembered, today, to get back around to making sure my address was correct, I found that you have to register for both bestbuy.com and also their Reward Zone site separately.  There is an option to merge the two together, but that means having both systems set up – and working.  When I tried it the first time, it told me the system could not complete the connection of the two accounts at this time.  I tried again and was finally able to do so.

Certainly, what I did was probably more than the usual consumer would go through.  Frankly, as a consumer, I had no care for doing that work and figured I would be fine continuing without it.  But, I wanted to see what was going on from a business perspective as many of my clients look for ways to expand their loyalty program.  Sadly, this Best Buy experience was not a good one and provided some insight into what not to do.

If you cannot promise value and return, loyalty programs cost more than they are worth.  If you can’t make it simple for your customer, than it really is not just a value of worth, but a matter of customer retention.  There is always the concern of technological hiccups – and that is fine if you have an escalation process to fix it quickly – but there are systematic issues within the Best Buy experience that add obstacles to simplicity and ease of use (requiring different account creation for both sites)  that make it much easier for competitors to swoop in to convert your customers; loyalty program or not.

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