Waitrose is making changes to its newly revamped loyalty programme after “thousands” of customer complaints.
The supermarket relaunched its digitally focused MyWaitrose scheme just over a week ago in a bid to make it more personalised by offering weekly rewards based on what shoppers bought the most.
A Waitrose spokesman said the move to digitise the 50 million vouchers the company previously issued every year was “in response to customer demand”, and that it allowed it to “invest more value directly into the pockets of customers”.
But a flood of complaints claiming the programme was “confusing” and “discriminating” towards those without access to a smartphone app have now forced the company to revert to a printed vouchers system.
The Grocer has learned that “thousands” of the supermarket’s customers – particularly the older demographic – have flocked to its customer service helplines ever since the relaunch, after being told in store that their physical card was not enough to redeem MyWaitrose rewards.
“We know this is a big change for our customers,” the spokesman said. “Digital first does not mean digital only and, now that we have a better idea of which customers are engaging using smartphones, we’ll be identifying customers’ preferred ways to receive their offers, including print at home, vouchers in the post and coupons printed at till.”
The changes – which were also based on customer feedback via the pilot scheme that Waitrose ran with 250,000 people ahead of the launch – will be rolling out within the next two weeks.
Additionally, the retailer is simplifying the app in the coming week and increasing training opportunities for branch colleagues to become better acquainted with the new MyWaitrose programme in order to help shoppers navigate the new system.
The Grocer understands Waitrose also has a follow-up mailer scheduled to “land soon” with vouchers for those unable to access rewards digitally.
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The supermarket’s decision to overhaul its loyalty programme first made waves last month when it announced it was going to withdraw the popular free newspaper offer in exchange for weekly personalised offers and exclusive discounts across the store – including 20% off all food counters in the first month.
At the time, Waitrose sent both digital and post updates to MyWaitrose cardholders with instructions on how to access the new personalised offers. But customers have since complained about the lack of clarity on what the new personalised rewards system actually entails, as well as on how to use it.
Many have also complained about the “irrelevance” of the personalised offers, and that the new programme is “too much trouble” for what they consider “paltry offers”.
Another Twitter user pointed out the digital nature of the new MyWaitrose meant they wouldn’t be able to use the vouchers in their local store as there was no phone signal.
Under the current system, shoppers must either have the Waitrose app or be logged on to the website to redeem their weekly vouchers. They must activate their preferred coupons before scanning the barcode displayed on the app or the website at checkout to be able to enjoy their rewards.
The Grocer understands that there is currently no way for physical cardholders-only to check their available rewards when in store. There is also no option for users to link the vouchers from the website to the physical card.
Alternatively, they can access their account via the Waitrose website and print out their weekly vouchers one by one. The monthly exclusive discounts though, such as the current food counters offer, can be redeemed at the till by simply swiping the MyWaitrose card.
This has resulted in confusion for many Waitrose customers. The Grocer understands that those who are currently reaching out to the helpdesk in Waitrose stores are simply being told to phone the customer service helpline.
A customer service helpline source said it had been “utter chaos” ever since the launch and that customers were “angry and frustrated” – with most complaints coming from older or less tech-savvy shoppers, who often did not have a smartphone app or even an email address.
They added that many of the callers claimed they would have to shop elsewhere as there was “nothing for them” at Waitrose.
“Either they will continue to shop and not get rewards or go shop elsewhere.”