We are proud to nominate our client, Discover, for a 2011 Forrester Groundswell Award. View the official nomination here, and be sure to give it a quick rating or review and check out other entries!
When it comes to listening to customers, the credit card industry has been slow to embrace customer conversations. Faced with stricter regulations and an industry image clouded by consumer distrust, financial service providers tend to be overly cautious in social, developing social strategies that do not directly address products or engage customers in dialogue. Instead, most use social as a one-way medium, limiting their social network brand pages to news of corporate responsibility projects and sports sponsorships. Discover, however, stands out from the crowd. Their social efforts began in 2009 with genuine, two-way engagement with cardmembers online. From empowering cardmembers to select the next ShopDiscover merchant partner, to crowd sourcing Discover card art, the brand has paved a bold path for using social media to innovate the member experience.
Discover continues to break the mold as one of the first direct banking and payment services company to actively encourage customer conversations on the brand site. Discover now offers cardmember ratings and reviews on seven different products on discover.com. “The fact that we’re now allowing our cardmembers to advocate on behalf of Discover represents a monumental shift for our company and our industry,” says Kelly Tufts, vice president of Cardmember Acquisition at Discover. “These customers’ feedback is helping us live our brand promise: being a trusted partner to cardmembers.”
In order to become even deeper partners in their customers’ financial decisions, Discover sought to better understand cardmembers, their credit card needs, and how they use their Discover products. The direct banking and payment services company launched reviews in February 2011 to listen to and connect with cardmembers in a scalable, product-specific fashion.
Customers become advocates when given a voice
Discover finds its satisfied customers are willing – even eager – to become advocates for the brand when given the opportunity. Since launch, cardmembers have now published over 2,300 reviews on discover.com. The average overall rating is 4.4 stars, and 88% of reviewers would recommend their card to a friend. Eighty-two percent of reviews are four stars or more. Reviews help evangelize Discover to consumers researching credit cards – in 2010, 50% of US consumers who applied for a credit card researched that card first online.
Beginning mid-August, Discover will feature review snippets on their homepage, calling on visitors to read more cardmember reviews. They plan to feature customer quotes on card application pages soon as well. “I called one customer personally to ask for permission to use her review on our homepage,” says Sanjay Gosalia, Director of Online Cardmember Acquisition at Discover. “She was so excited! Not just that we were using her review on our site, but that we’d actually read her feedback and taken it to heart.”
Customer-created content drives targeted segment intelligence and marketing
Discover ties product information gathered in reviews to their CRM database using the customer’s account number. This allows Discover to map the customer’s ratings and feedback to other aspects of their account profile such as age, location, rewards program enrollment, customer service history, etc. Using this information, Discover is able to cluster feedback around specific customer segments and draw conclusions about cardmembers in each segment’s shared needs.
For example, student-age cardmembers share many similar credit card needs – needs that can sometimes be unique to students. The student card team looks closely at student feedback to tailor their cards to how students would like to use them.
Discover also plans to target reviewers with specific marketing campaigns based on a previously unavailable dimension: sentiment. Reviewers posting high ratings will be targeted with a “refer a friend” email, encouraging them to recommend Discover to friends and earn cash back rewards. Customers who leave low-rated feedback could, for example, receive a contact from customer service teams for one-to-one assistance resolving any problems.
Feedback lets customers co-innovate with the brand
While the vast majority of feedback is glowing – 92% of Discover reviews are rated three stars or higher – both the positive and critical feedback provide the brand with constructive advice. “Cardmembers will write to say they love their card, and it’d be even better if we’d add this feature or that benefit,” says Gosalia. Discover plans to use this feedback to improve their products, and even launch new ones. In this way, reviews have fostered the partner relationship between Discover and their cardmembers even further by making the customer a collaborator in the Discover brand.
For example, Discover teams noticed one line of products wasn’t performing as well as expected. Among other information, cardmember reviews were used to understand why the line was underperforming and whether it could be improved to better serve customers. This direct feedback from customers contributed to Discover’s decision to pull away from the line, strengthening their product portfolio.
Customers promote positive brand associations
In the past, Discover market research has indicated that many consumers don’t think Discover cards will be widely accepted. Reviews from cardmembers, however, revealed the opposite. For the 200 reviews on discover.com that use the word “accept,” 88% are four stars or higher, and 92.5% of reviewers would recommend the card to a friend. Of all reviews that mention card acceptance, about half talk about card acceptance in a positive way, and many actively combat the false belief. “Discover is now accepted almost everywhere. I’ve never had problems in that area,” writes one reviewer. “I have used my Discover card since 1988,” writes another. “In the beginning [sic] not everyone took my card & I always had another card if that happened. I am happy to report that now it is accepted widely. I use it for everything.”
Discover merchant teams plan to use reviews to find the areas where the cards aren’t as widely accepted, and sign more merchants. The company has even launched a new advertising campaign promoting the message that Discover cards are widely accepted – a positive brand association backed by first-person card member experience. Discover plans to use customer reviews to continue to support this association.
Opening up to customer feedback has allowed Discover to engage directly with cardmembers in a scalable, product-centric way. Reviews bring customers to the center of Discover’s business, empowering them to advocate and co-innovate the Discover brand. Authentic customer conversations provide actionable insights, helping Discover better segment their cardmembers and deliver on their credit card needs. By understanding their customers, Discover deepens their cardmember partnerships to better live their brand promise.