One of the biggest requests we have is for the ability to expire points automatically. The reasons why points might need to expire vary from business to business: some offer tiered discounts based on the number of points earned in a given year and need the accounts reset on January 1, some simply don’t want to be exposed to large outstanding balances and want the points to expire a set period of time after they are issued, and most simply want to encourage people to return regularly to earn new points to reach a target before the existing points expire. In all these cases the business does not want to have to go through each account manually to calculate when and how many points to expire.
We’ve been working on the best way to automate the process and have tried a number of options. The technical aspect proved difficult but it also proved more difficult than expected to get the whole system working as a whole as it affected a number of different areas. However these have now been resolved and, after some significant testing I’m happy to announce we have an elegant and simple function that lets you specify the expiry criteria for your points.
The new process works on a monthly basis. You can specify either the month every year when points will expire or the number of full months for which points remain active after they are awarded. At the end of every month the system will look at each card and calculate how many points to expire at that time. It will then redeem that number of points from the account. At the same time it will calculate the number of points due to expire at the end of the following month. This number is then updated at every transaction throughout the month. At the end of the following month the process will repeat.
The setting for the Automatic Point Expiry can be found under Operations/point actions.
Here you have 3 options:
- Points never expire.
- Points expire on a specific date. You will be presented with the ability to select on which month they expire. Remember that points expire at the end of a month so if you want all accounts to go into a new year with a reset balance you select December as the expiry option for Set Date.
- Points expire a set time after being awarded. The number of months you set are full months and so do not count the month in which the points are awarded. So if you want points issued in January to expire at the end of March you choose 2 as the period (February and March being the 2 in question).
You simply set the selection that meets your needs and you can forget about it after that. The system will do the rest.
There are 2 points to take note of;
- You can change the criteria and timing of point expiry at any time. However you cannot do so in a way that will immediately cause points to expire. Instead we will recalculate the number of points to expire at the end of the month and this will include any points which under your new rules would already have expired.
- All points are taken into account in the calculation. This includes any default points you may have put on cards when you received them. If you have not issued the cards within the set time those points will no longer be on the card when the customer receives them.
The Statistics Dashboard has been updated to include the expiring points in the graphs and you can also search for them in the Transaction Filter and download them in the Excel export.
It’s not a lot of use having expiring points if the customer is unaware of when they expire so we have integrated this information into their data. The cardholder will now see the number of points due to expire along side their balance for each card. This will update throughout the month as required. For instance if all points reset at the end of the month then every transaction will be reflected and the expiring points will equal the balance for the full month. However if points expire after specified period of time then only redemptions during the month will be reflected and the number of expiring points will reduce accordingly.
Why this process?
We decided on a monthly process because it is the one most liked by customers and so benefits business more than any other option…
- Customers are happier if they know points expire at the end of the month rather than having a balance that can change every day
- Cardholders can plan in advance to visit the business to use expiring points, something that would not be possible if the expiration balance changed every day.
- Points awarded early in a month will be live for longer than those awarded at the end. This gives customers a feeling that they are gaining something extra by shopping early in the month.
Automatic Point Expiration is a major function that will be of use to almost all businesses. It’s one of a number of major functional upgrades coming in the following weeks. Let me know what you think and if there are any functions you particularly want added.