6 ways to get cardholders to love using their card

/ 3 January 2024

In the UK, 1 in 3 credit card users are inactive. This equates to 18 million users.

With stats like this, it’s easy to see why boosting cardholder engagement is a challenge, especially when faced with high competition and ever-changing consumer behaviours.

But with cardholder engagement having a knock-on effect on future revenue, how can you keep cardholders engaged and satisfied?

Let’s look at fresh approaches that encourage customers to choose your card for purchases continually.

🤫Pssst. We’ll also introduce you to a new secret weapon: cardholder engagement through gamification.

Why engagement equals revenue 💸

Before we begin, let’s quickly cover why cardholder engagement is a critical KPI to monitor…

Engaged cardholders are those who find value in a card and its associated services. If a cardholder feels their needs are being met, they are much less likely to shop around for another card.

But that’s not all. Along with retention protecting revenue, you can actually expect to see revenue lines grow with engagement too. Cardholders who stick around are prime candidates for upselling services – ones that are relevant to their current spending habits.

For example, they might be ready for higher credit lines. Not only does this boost their financial flexibility, but it also supports your bottom line.

So, how can you actually improve engagement? In the next sections, we look at 6 key steps you can take to get cardholders to love using their card. 

#1: Gamify the experience

Gamification tops our list of cardholder engagement strategies, and for good reason. When done right, it can be leveraged across a number of key engagement strategies. But first, let’s dive deeper into gamification and how card issuers can use it to motivate customers. 

Simply put, gamification introduces game-like elements into the customer journey so that using a credit card becomes more engaging and enjoyable. It’s a strategy being used across multiple industries that want to deliver the experiences that customers actually want. They want a personal service and they want it to be engaging.

It’s out with the norm and mundane and in with smart incentives and interactivity.

So, how does gamification specifically work in financial services?

Whether it be point systems and badges that reward on-time payments with cashback, or interactive challenges that unlock bonus features, gamification skyrockets cardholder engagement by creating value-adding experiences for customers.

And it’s particularly effective because it taps into human psychology. Every time a cardholder engages, they feel a ‘win’ which triggers a positive emotional response. The more they win, the more this satisfaction builds and promotes continuous use of their credit card.

Ultimately, gamification creates delightful customer journeys that drive retention and satisfaction for a long-term, loyal customer base.

#2: Offer rewards they actually want

Offering cliche rewards just won’t satisfy all customers. And it’s unlikely to create a stand-out customer experience or drive the engagement levels you need. Unless you tap into customers’ unique wants and needs, reward systems are likely to fall flat.

And this is where gamification can help. ✨

Through interactive surveys, card issuers can capture first-hand data on customer preferences – known as zero-party data. This might uncover things like where customers frequently shop so you can provide discount cards relevant to them. Or, they may be a  frequent traveller so you could offer discounts for flights and hotels.

We know personalisation boosts engagement. But the key thing here is that with gamification, the accuracy and freshness of the data willingly shared is more useful. And that willingness is what takes customer journeys from creepy to desirable.

📕Learn more: The role of zero-party data in building better customer profiles.

#3: Personalise communications with transaction data

As well as this zero-party data – which can be used to capture insight on future needs – you can also look at transactional data for deeper insight into spending habits.

For example, do they regularly visit restaurants? Are they a keen online shopper? Do they appear to travel often?

In this last instance, you could send a timely offer for travel insurance.

In addition to this, if you notice customers aren’t redeeming rewards, you can look to create guides to help them redeem rewards. Or, consider offering them swaps based on current behaviour.

#4: Create winning customer service 

Stripping it back to basics, even mundane tasks like verifying contact details can become delightful experiences that support customer retention.

For example, customers could earn points for admin-related activities, like contact information verification, which they can put towards personalised perks. This self-service also saves staff needing to get in touch with individual customers.

You can also use gamification to encourage valuable customer feedback – and enter customers into prize draws. It means customers can resolve account-related issues quickly themselves – when they’re ready. And it rewards them with a positive and more memorable experience.

#5: Be active, not reactive 

Customers don’t want generic offers that seem ill-timely sent. They want something they need, right now. Take restaurant vouchers, for example.

A message of “spend £20 more on dining this week to get a free dessert” is much more compelling than a generic voucher. It shows you are taking note of their interests and rewarding things that matter to them.

With gamification, this is made much easier.

Through an interactive, gamified campaign, you can create personalised challenges that capture their insights – live and in-game – and use this to guide them to more relevant rewards. This nurtures them towards immediate action because of the psychology we mentioned earlier.

It’s a fun experience that appeals to our “winning” needs. The more they engage, the more they can win. And it triggers a a growing engagement loop – especially if you add exclusive bonuses for repeat engagement or “streaks”.

From this, it’s easy to see how an interactive experience like above and beyond a generic customer notification.

#6: Educate on existing card benefits

As well as using gamification to unlock personal experiences and rewards, it can be used to educate cardholders on existing card benefits. Putting it bluntly, a lot of valuable card benefits are overlooked simply because the cardholder doesn’t know about them.

Whereas, if they knew and even actively used these perks, they may be less inclined to switch to another card provider.

Let’s look at an example. 👇

🎳You could create a Card Benefit Discovery Mission. Through this type of game, cardholders can earn points as they learn about new features. These points can be exchanged for exclusive offers or additional service upgrades. And if the cardholder hits certain thresholds for using these benefits, you could reward this with more benefits like free airport lounge access.

The future of cardholder engagement is gamified

So, the question is: Is it worth investing in new strategies? Or can you continue as normal?

The answer is simply no. ❌

Now is the time to look at fresh ways to engage cardholders.

With 18 million disengaged credit card users in the UK, there’s plenty of opportunity to build a retained customer base and actually grow it with upsells.

And it’s clear that gamification is a strong solution – with its data-driven insight and ability to tap into human psychology. Gamification brings enjoyment to even the most dull parts of a cardholder’s experience. And it can save you the expense of staff needing to get in touch with customers. Through personalised communication and offers, as well as a more interactive experience, customers are left delighted.

The game redefines customer experiences and incentivises engagement at every touchpoint – helping you stand out.

The bottom line? If you’re serious about boosting engagement, it’s time to embrace gamification.

Ready to see how easy it is to implement gamification? Speak to one of our specialists today.

Looking for more? 

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