Verizon is launching a new nationwide program that rewards its customers for interacting with it, but -- like most things in life -- it's not giving its customers something for nothing.
Verizon Wireless is positioning the program as an innovative way to reward customers, but it helps Verizon too. At launch, most of the rewards seem to be for doing things online, like using the Verizon online account management tool, paying monthly bills, using the Verizon Trade In program, or choosing paperless billing. That's all good for Verizon in that it helps cut down on costly service calls and makes sure its customers are paying on time without a paper bill.
Where it gets more interesting is that in order to participate its customers must be enrolled in Verizon Selects, part of the carrier's Precision Market Insights program that sells aggregated customer information to marketers looking to target their ads. Verizon Rewards becomes a clever way for it to get more eyeballs for its opt-in program. (See Big Data Attracts Big Dollars, New Faces.)
Some may see that –- more relevant ads! -- as a perk in itself, but it's already made others uncomfortable since it can include data down to browsing history, location, and app usage.
Verizon is offering additional points for each line opted in for as long as customers stay opted in. It's possible it hasn't had that great a level of sign-ups for its privacy-bending program, so this is likely one way it's trying to persuade more people to get on board. Even if we hate ads, it's a proven fact that people love free stuff.
Verizon says that any postpaid customer can sign up for the rewards program starting on Thursday and get 10,000 points out the gate. The points they earn are then redeemable for discounts on merchandise, coupons from local retailers, Verizon gift cards, and other deals, which it says will evolve over time.
The ad angle aside, Verizon is taking a cue from C Spire , which has had a similar program, PERCs, in place for years now. It doesn't require backend changes to the carrier's policy or charging functions, and a spokeswoman says it's run by a vendor that administers the points and manages the merchandise catalog. (See C Spire Lets SPIT Percolate and C Spire's COO Sees the Percs in SPIT.)
The program won't appeal to everyone who wants a more hands-off relationship with their carrier, but rewards will be enough to entice some people and greatly reward Verizon in the process.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading