Previous month:
July 2017
Next month:
September 2017

August 2017

Wise up to Verizon Up

Verizon Smart Rewards was a disappointing program from the beginning, and in reaction to customer feedback, Verizon is launching a new program called Verizon Up. 

When the Smart Rewards program was launched we noted that Verizon's chief technology officer was actually quoted as saying Verizon's goal was to accumulate lots of behavioral data about their customers. So the goal was not so much customer retention as customer exploitation??

The new program, Verizon Up, speaks to customer preference for simplicity as well as experiential awards such as concerts and music. However, it restricts the customer tightly in three areas... 

  • In order to participate, we have to be the Verizon user who pays the bill. Other members of a family plan are not able to participate. 
  • The only way to sign up is to place the Verizon app on your mobile phone. 
  • The reason for having to sign up through the app is that you also have to sign up for the Verizon Selects 'share ALL my mobile, apps and browser usage data with Verizon and anyone it deems a partner' program. 

Verizon says you can opt out of Verizon Selects later, but we're sure most people will never think to do so. 

As Verizon is listening closely to customer feedback, I suspect that family members will be picked up eventually, although not at the same level of rewards.

Verizon Up is based primarily on the amount you spend with Verizon Wireless. Reward credits are issued for each $300 spent and would appear to expire in 60 days. That would make participation in the program challenging for us because we work hard to keep our monthly bill down below $300 a month. 

So there's one final remark that I'd like to make as a Verizon customer. The basic customer experience with Verizon is quite good. They've provided many unexpected benefits over the years to keep us loyal. We are not planning to switch, but we won't be participating in this rewards program (which isn't being marketed as a loyalty program, thank goodness). 

Android Police: Verizon Up is the carrier's new rewards program, replaces Smart Rewards, 2017-Aug-1 by Ryne Hager

Part of this new rewards program feels like a knee-jerk response to the marketing success of T-Mobile Tuesdays, but I am not sure that it offers quite the same value. Just last year T-Mobile handed out free stock in the company to its customers. As of now, that's a $60 value that might have even exceeded one's total monthly bill with T-Mobile. A $5 Starbucks gift card for $300 spent isn't quite the same sort of value.

The Verge: Verizon’s new rewards program lets it track your browsing history, 2017-Aug-2 by Chaim Gartenberg

But, as noted by Brandon Robbins on Twitter, the new program comes with a pretty big catch: you have to enroll in Verizon Selects, a program that allows the company to track a huge chunk of your personal data. That includes web browsing, app usage, device location, service usage, demographic info, postal or email address, and your interests. Furthermore, that data gets shared with Verizon’s newly formed Oath combination (aka AOL and Yahoo), plus with “vendors and partners” who work with Verizon. Which is kind of a long list of people who have access to what feels like a fairly significant amount of your data.

Fortune: Lady Gaga Partners With Verizon For Ticket Giveaway, 2017-Aug-7 by Aaron Pressman

Verizon Up... seeks to simplify giving benefits to participants and focus the very best offers on Verizon's best customers. At the [Lady GaGa] shows, Verizon customers will even have their own special seating section. Only a limited number of tickets will be given away, and participants will have to compete against each other for them at designated times in the rewards app. Other rewards will include tickets to NFL games and other major events, as well as lesser items such as several free months of Apple's Apple Music or HBO Now, or 20% off a return flight on JetBlue. Starbucks and Panera Bread are also partners.

Verizon Press Release:

“We spent a lot of time speaking to customers who were telling us they were frustrated with existing reward programs on the market,” said Diego Scotti, Chief Marketing Officer, Verizon. “They didn’t want to spend time tracking or accumulating thousands of points in exchange for trivial items. They wanted rewards that have real value and were rooted in experiences,” said Scotti. “That’s how Verizon Up came to life, it’s digital only, simple to use, rewards are constant and relevant, and it connects you with brands and access to experiences you know and love.”

Fortune: Lady Gaga Partners With Verizon For Ticket Giveaway, 2017-Aug-7 by Aaron Pressman

But Scotti says customers will be able to opt out of tracking. "For us, privacy is really, really important," Scotti says. Customers will have "choice and control," he says, and will be able to decide not to allow Verizon to collect their personal tracking data. "If you sign up to the Up program and then you say 'you know what, I don't actually feel very comfortable with you having this data' you can actually opt out and still be in the program."

From the Verizon customer site (log in required): 

Verizon Selects helps personalize your experiences and make advertising you see more useful across the devices and services you use. To do this, the program uses information about your web browsing, app usage, device location, use of Verizon services and other information about you (such as your postal/email addresses, demographics, and interests) and shares information with Oath (formed by the combination of AOL and Yahoo). Verizon Selects also helps personalize the rewards you see in Up.

Verizon protects your information and does not share information that identifies you personally outside of Verizon other than with vendors and partners who work for us.

Participation in Verizon Selects is required to enroll in Up. You can update your Selects privacy choices at any time at


Walgreens builds loyalty by improving customer experience

The Walgreens "Balance Rewards" program is now 5 years old but stays on the leading edge of technology, creating innovative customer experiences such as "refill by scan" for the smartphone. They are doing an exceptional job of merging digital and in-store shopping, with over half their app users enjoying the app while in the store. In either the app or on the web site, customers can use "Pharmacy Chat" to maintain their relationship with their pharmacist. They also encourage employees to become users of the technology, getting faster and more sophisticated feedback on new features. 

"Balance Rewards" has 150 million registered members, of whom 85 million are active. That huge base makes it easier for them to perform testing by releasing features in stages.