Charter seeks customer loyalty in points program

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

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
Web site will link to the loyalty site, and the program will be promoted in
Charter stores.

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