More than half of the UK's consumers (54%) feel that it takes too long to earn rewards in loyalty programmes, with 27% of people saying they have stopped using a loyalty programme as a direct result of the length of time taken to be rewarded, according to research from Grass Roots Group. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The research, which surveyed over 2,700 consumers, concluded that many major brands are simply failing to keep their previously-loyal followers engaged, with 33% of respondents expecting to receive significant rewards from a loyalty programme within just one month of signing up and a further 45% being prepared to wait between one and three months before their membership bears fruit. As a result, many loyalty programme operators run the risk of turning away loyal customers by not keeping them engaged while they wait for their all-important first reward.

Delving deeper into the findings, the older generation are more impatient when it comes to being rewarded for their loyalty, with 12% of over 55s expecting to receive a reward within a week, compared to only 4% of 18-24 year olds. By not understanding this or targeting customers correctly, brands could be contributing to the relationship breakdown with their customers.

"Customer loyalty schemes hold a lot of value to both brands and their customers. Brands have already done the hard work by earning customer loyalty, why then do so many risk losing their customers by not keeping them engaged throughout the entire loyalty lifecycle?" asked Adam Goran, divisional director of customer engagement for Grass Roots Group

The company's research found that over half of customers (57%) are happy to be contacted by a loyalty provider once a month, with 18-24 year olds wanting more frequent contact (38% are happy to be contacted between once a day and every two weeks).

Customers want - and indeed expect - to be contacted by their loyalty scheme providers and, if approached in the right way at the right time, will become true advocates rather than occasional shoppers.

"If marketers fail to capitalise on this expectation, and they don't engage effectively with their customers, they will find it increasingly difficult to hold on to loyal customers," concluded Goran.