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What leads an established payments powerhouse to reengineer an already popular platform?
According to Julie Loeger, SVP of brand and acquisition at Discover, the answer is simple: listening to the consumer.
PYMNTS.com spoke with Loeger to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Discover’s “it” card, and how the “it” idea evolved from a rebranded solution to an entirely new product. How is Discover injecting a “human element” into the credit card market through its features? Find out below.
PYMNTS.com: We have yet to speak about Discover’s “it” card, which you launched in Q1 of this year. Before we dive into specifics, why do you feel this card has already been attractive to so many consumers as well as the overall response from the marketplace?
Julie Loeger: We saw an opportunity to completely reengineer the credit card experience from start to finish several years ago. The Discover “it” card was built off of Discover’s rich history of rewards, service and value, and was created to enhance the already successful flagship credit card product for which Discover is known. We have not taken anything away from our existing credit card product – only enhanced a product that was already popular among millions of loyal cardmembers. We plan to use the Discover it launch as a platform for future innovation that will keep the customer in the middle of the innovation cycle. We are just at the very beginning of the journey with so much more to come.
What were you hearing from customers or seeing in the market that led Discover to produce what looks to be a very consumer-friendly card?
Our team conducted extensive research to better understand the consumer decision journey and what prompted consumers to choose one card over another. More than 20,000 consumers were engaged to tell Discover what they liked and disliked about their credit cards, as well as other companies with which they had relationships in other industries. These consumer insights led us to develop a new brand positioning and, ultimately, a new product unlike anything in today’s market that answers consumer demand and creates an entirely new experience for cardmembers. We did not originally set out to create a new card, but as the new brand positioning evolved, we realized this could create a compelling product that could easily and effectively round out the existing brand promise that consumers have come to know and love – “It Pays to Discover.”
Can you talk about the fees – or I guess, lack there of – associated with the Discover it card? Why have you decided against including the types of fees we see included so commonly with other cards?
We understand that no one really plans to be late with a payment but sometimes things happen. We won’t charge our Discover cardmembers a late fee the first time they are late with a payment, and we won’t raise their APR for paying late either. Also, the Discover it credit card has no annual fee, no overlimit fee and pay-by-phone fee, and no foreign transaction fee.
Now talk about the rewards – what are some of the specific cashback options users have?
Cardmembers enjoy 5 percent Cashback Bonus throughout the year in categories that change such as gas, restaurants, department stores, online shopping and more each quarter. Signing up for each 5 percent program is always free and easy. Online shoppers can use ShopDiscover, our online mall with over 200 top retailers ready to give 5 percent to 20 percent Cashback Bonus on their purchases. Plus cardmembers earn 1 percent Cashback Bonus on all other purchases. Another newly developed component of the Discover it card includes our Cashback Concierge service, which is now available to help cardmembers. It is a free, personalized service that doesn’t sell our cardmembers on anything. It’s simply there to help them walk through their account online to get the most cash back based on the way they use their card.
There seems to be an effort to try and infuse some human element into the credit card process here: is that a fair characterization?
Yes, we treat our cardmembers the way we would want to be treated. Consumers will feel the difference from the moment they apply for the Discover it card throughout the duration of their experience with Discover. To that end, we have infused several “human” elements such as giving our cardmembers the option to immediately be connected to a live, U.S.-based customer service representative to discuss their account at any time. We also will try to help cardmembers who have lost their jobs. This may include lowering their interest rate or monthly payment.
Finally, can you share with us any upcoming projects Discover will be working on over the next quarter?
We are constantly evaluating new projects that will provide our cardmembers with clear value, compelling rewards, superior customer service and meaningful experiences. This philosophy of taking the best of what Discover offers and adding even greater benefits for consumers is evident across all of our direct banking channels. As we progress through next quarter and beyond, we will continue to make significant investments to ensure we are attracting a loyal cardmember base. These investments have, and will, contribute to a new business model that is resonating in the marketplace and helping us drive growth.