Charter seeks customer loyalty in points program

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Charter Communications is rolling out “Live it with Charter” — a customer loyalty program — nationwide this month.

The program offers customers the opportunity to earn points by using Charter products and services or by shopping at an online mall created by Mall Networks. Points can be redeemed for other Charter products, prizes and raffle tickets. Charter's programming partners, which include Disney, Fox and Food Network, provide the prizes.

“One thing we heard most often from customers was, ‘New customers get all the great stuff,' because we're always putting deals out to acquire new clients,” said Paul Belle Isle, director for loyalty and retention marketing, Charter. “So the loyalty program helps us offer additional value for our customers and differentiate ourselves in an industry that is becoming increasingly commoditized.”

Charter will also be able to use its new program to collect extra information about its customers — one way to earn points is by occasionally taking surveys.

“Live it with Charter” is part of a larger focus on customer retention within the company. Charter recently released its Q2 numbers, showing a loss of $276 million. The loss has decreased since Q2 of last year — when it was $360 million — partly thanks to an increase in telephone, digital video and high-speed Internet customers.

Mall Networks' loyalty shopping will play a key role in “Live it with Charter”, offering consumers a way to earn more points and get more involved with the program. Charter is also signing up a second partner company that will give customers more opportunities to spend their points. The name of this company has not yet been disclosed.

Charter launched a pilot of its loyalty program in its East Division in April 2007, and response has been good enough that the company opted to launch nationwide. An e-mail campaign signaling the launch went out last week, and it will be followed by a direct mail campaign in the middle of August. Eventually, points balances will be printed on bills, the Charter.net Web site will link to the loyalty site, and the program will be promoted in Charter stores.

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