How many affinity cards do you have in your wallet or on your key chain right now? If you’re like most people, it’s probably a lot. And if you’re like me, you may have a kind of love-hate relationship with them.
Some are really quite valuable. The Starbucks card gives you a free drink of any size after you purchase 15 drinks. The deli with the fabulous chocolate chip cookies offers a free lunch after you buy 12. The card offered by Clarks shoe store gifts you with $40 off after you spend $400. And the pet store card places my name on a mailing list to receive coupons, most of which are useless to me, but sometimes they are worth receiving.
And the grocery store card? Well this one works a little differently. This card shows you your savings (or lack thereof) automatically. YOU SAVED 11% TODAY! YOU SAVED 18%! YOU SAVED 2%! (What?! Now I feel totally ripped off. Why do I even have this card?) Then there are those cards that have gone digital, so you can carry them on your phone instead of with your keys.
I resist getting cards from certain places, either because I feel I don’t shop there enough or I’m just not in the mood. But, each subsequent time I shop there and they ask for my card, I feel a little guilty, knowing I’m probably missing out on some savings.
These affinity cards raise our expectations and if they’re not met, we feel duped and angry at the retailer. And while the benefits generally aren’t all that valuable, I feel pretty happy when I go to my mailbox and find a postcard from Starbucks that says YOU’VE EARNED A FREE DRINK. At that moment, I don’t think about what it cost me to earn it; I just know I got something FREE that I really like.
Why should you care about this? Your most profitable members are also the most connected to the credit union, with multiple products. So how could you reward them for their loyalty? A membership card that gives them a better deal on their next loan? Would an affinity card sound better to the member than instituting relationship pricing?
Just remember that while it’s important to nurture the relationship you have with each and every member, you also need to manage their expectations. You never want them to be disappointed, so don’t offer what you can’t deliver. And don’t offer the moon (something they really can’t use) if what they can use (oxygen they can breathe, 1% interest on their checking account) will make them far happier on a regular basis.
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