Money & Business

Wednesday Buzz: The Give-and-Take of Verizon's Loyalty Program

By / Jul 23, 2014 (photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The mobile giant’s new Smart Rewards program offers significant discounts—but it’s what consumers have to give as part of the deal that’s raising eyebrows. Also: what bugs associations about boards the most.

It makes sense that corporations would want a piece of the loyalty program pie, right?

That’s why Verizon is jumping on board with its new rewards program, Smart Rewards. Like a Starbucks plan or airline miles program, it offers big benefits in the form of discounts and travel. But there’s something that’s bugging a lot of folks about the program: what consumers have to agree to when signing up.

As CNET notes, Verizon customers will have to sign up for another program, Verizon Selects, which tracks their use of Verizon products and services. The purpose: to target ads at customers based on their interests.

Consumer groups are skeptical. The Consumerist, a blog published by the nonprofit behind Consumer Reports, suggests that the trade-off may raise some eyebrows.

“Basically—you give Verizon your loyalty, your money, and your information about what you’re doing on your phone and where you’re going, and it gives you chances to spend more money with what we’re going to assume are its partners,” writes Mary Beth Quirk. “Everyone loves a discount, I guess?”

That reaction is a reminder for associations that offer loyalty programs. Members are keeping an eye on the balance—they have to feel that they’re getting more out of it than they’re giving up. Do you have any advice for the mobile giant as it moves forward with Smart Rewards?

A Board’s Weak Points

As we mentioned not too long ago, SCD Group’s Steve Drake was asking for survey responses ahead of a 2014 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition session he’s taking part in, “Why Boards Fail and How to Fix Them.”

After receiving 140 responses, he can tell us the biggest problem with boards, according to association execs: They are too focused on tactical stuff and not enough on strategic issues.

Of the 25 challenges on the list, that one hit the top without a problem, beating issues regarding the board’s role, poor vetting of candidates, and governance, among others.

“Yes, we know this was a poll that was neither scientific nor random,” Drake admits. “But it gave us a good reading on what the association community is thinking.”

Check out the full list on his blog. (ht @SteveDrake)

Other good reads

What makes a successful newsletter? Fast Company asks the authors of several popular TinyLetter emails—who happen to be individuals, not brands.

Social networks don’t do well on customer satisfaction surveys, reports InformationWeek.

“IPad sales met our expectations, but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing the recent decline in the iPad’s fortunes.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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