This blog post was inspired by a conversation with the CEO of a company who sells gift cards.
I believe Gift Card Score® is an accurate representation of the consumer friendliness of any gift card; it's also extremely easy for most consumers to understand. However, there are several factors which are not included in a Gift Card Score. It's arguable such factors are important in determining the consumer friendliness of a gift card program, but not included in Gift Card Score.
Here are a several aspects related to a gift card program which are not currently factors on the Gift Card Score Algorithm:
Gift Card Score does not take into account the quality of a company's customer service team. I recognize this is an important factor in the consumer friendliness of a gift card program; however, it's a subjective matter and one person's experience may be much different than another person's. Furthermore, it's rather difficult to quantify Company A's service level when compared to Company B without the input of many customers.
That written, it's likely at some point in the future Gift Card Scores will be impacted by consumer sentiment. In fact, in December 2010, we began offering consumers the ability to rate gift cards based on a scale of 1-5 stars and while this isn't currently a factor, I see this as becoming an important attribute of a Gift Card Score albeit just a piece of the puzzle.
Number Of Locations
Another aspect we don't take into account is the number of locations which a gift card may be redeemed. For example, the corner grocery store with a single location can score just as high as the largest super market with hundreds of locations. It's arguable that the more locations where a consumer can redeem a gift card, the more consumer friendly the program. However, it's also possible the corner grocery store is more convenient because it's right next door to the gift cardholder.
Breadth Product Offering
Similar to the number of locations available for redemption, we also don't take into account the breadth of a company's product offering. Again, this is also a subjective matter and what one person sees as a great gift card, another may have no use. For example, I love the Amazon.com Gift Card because there are so many things I could buy and it's just a matter of time before I redeem the gift card. On the other hand, a person may prefer an iTunes eGift Card where only music, apps, books and movies may be purchased. Again, it's a subjective matter and therefore we leave it out of the scoring algorithm.
The Hard Work
Gift Card Score also doesn't take into account all the hard work a team puts into the product offering. I understand a team might give blood, sweat and tears, but this too is very difficult to quantify and is a subjective matter. While I believe hard work is imperative in creating an excellent product, it's also possible to put in a lot of hard work which results in a product which is less consumer friendly, even if it's a result of external circumstances. E.g. gift cards are not accepted at all locations because some locations use a different system or currency.
It's Never Personal
Gift Card Score was not created to give a particular company a bad reputation or to suggest the company is not consumer friendly. It was created to help consumer easily identify and support the best gift card programs. Of course a low Gift Card Score indicates the gift card manager could make some improvements to the program which we see as an opportunity to become more consumer friendly. Even so, gift cards with a low Gift Card Score (0-59) are labeled "Buyer Beware" not "Do Not Purchase" because we aim to warn consumers tey may want to look at the terms closer before making a purchase.
Sometimes Less Is More
The point is: things left out of Gift Card Score because we think it actually makes Gift Card Score better. Ultimately, the scoring algorithm is subjective form the factors included to the weighting of each factor.
For example, a $1 post-sale fees will lower a Gift Card Score more than a $1 shipping fee because we believe the shipping fee is an upfront cost and therefore the decision maker will know they are being charge a fee before making the purchase. On the other hand, a post sale fee is something that we see as a hidden fee and it will likely recur until the balance of the card is $0. Furthermore, inactivity fees are something which have give gift cards a bad wrap and it certainly feels like a company is taking money out of the consumers pocket when deducting such fees.
At the end of the day, all gift cards are scored with the same algorithm. While it may not be easy to obtain a high Gift Card Score, it's certainly possible.
We're Always Open To Feedback
I love hearing feedback about ScripSmart; we're open to listening to what others have to say about Gift Card Score. In the end, it's important for each Gift Card Review on ScripSmart to be fair, accurate and easy to understand. If you have any feedback or suggestions, just send us a note and share your thoughts. With your help ScripSmart can be even better!