Loyalty Programs

loyalty cardsI’ve been away from the keyboard for a while; it’s time to get back to this. I’ve had a lot of balls in the air, but I do enjoy writing.  I may be a bit rusty but hope you enjoy the ride.

Loyalty programs can be as simple as a “coffee card” that gets punched every time the customer places an order and allows her to earn a free coffee after a given number of purchases.  The programs can also be sophisticated programs that allow customers to accumulate points at multiple businesses and/or allow the retail partners to gain information on customers’ shopping habits.

With a loyalty program, I am sharing two things to keep in mind.  First, if you have a program commit to it.  Encourage your customers to participate and promote the program at every opportunity.  My personal experience here needs a little background.  Over the past few years I have been purchasing a lot of building material. We are seasonal campers in a family run campground an easy drive from our home.  We’ve been building decks and fences at our campsite. The initial purchase was for a substantial amount of the material. We’ve since been back for odds and ends. After several trips to the same store, on a rather small purchase the clerk asked if I had Aeroplan. Well, I do, and now I am annoyed that I wasn’t asked when I was making the large purchase at the beginning.

If your company participates in a loyal program, instruct staff to ask every time. The reason you participate in these plans is to encourage loyalty. Every time you ask, you are reminding your customer of another reason to keep coming back.

The second point about loyalty programs; view the program from your customer’s point of view, not your own.  A coffee shop owner made a mistake, in my opinion, when he cancelled his coffee card program.  His reason?  He felt he was giving away product he was going to sell anyway.  His concern, he was loosing a sale (which might amount to a couple of dollars) every time he gave the loyal customer the “free” coffee they had earned by being loyal.  After all, these were his regulars, they would have purchased the coffee anyway, right?  Wrong-headed!  I’ve mentioned him earlier, car dealer Carl Sewell says, anything you would do for your best friend your do for your customer because in retail your customer is your best friend.

I hope you find value here and become a loyal visitor, until next time — be outstanding.