Recently, I went to a local store that had a punch card loyalty program. I had to bring the card with me every time I wanted to get a “punch” to be rewarded for spending my money there. Aside from rarely remembering to bring the card with me, what really got me was that I had to spend at least $20, on 20 separate occasions, to be rewarded with… $20. I usually spent about $100 in that store each time I went. That meant I would spend about $2000 to get $20 off! It was so frustrating that I only got it punched three times – and never went back.
Their ‘loyalty program’ pissed me off!
Loyalty programs should be fun, inviting, and universal. I want to feel like that merchant is acknowledging that I have a choice to shop elsewhere, and appreciates my decision to spend my dollars with them.
So what keeps customers coming back for more? How do you keep your loyal customers loyal?
First, most loyalty programs aren’t universal. They alienate some of their customer base. Do you really only want to reward people who have a smartphone by creating an app? Do you really only want to reward people who are tech-savvy? Think about it – does every single customer that walks through your doors have a smartphone? Essentially telling your customers they don’t mean much to you unless they have an iPhone AND know how to download an app. Ouch.
Second, it has to be worth my time to participate. What’s my enticement for jumping through hoops? Don’t be cheap, I’ll be loyal if you’ll make the promo a good one. I don’t need to save 50 cents – but I’ll make this my regular hangout if you make me feel special.
Third, can I trust you’ll respect the data I’m giving you? What will you do with my email, phone, or other info you ask me for? I don’t care how good the offer is if I feel like you’re going to annoy me. Have you clearly laid out expectations for our relationship? (yes, I have commitment issues)
Loyalty is something that must be earned. Not once, not twice, but every single time that customer walks through your doors. It’s when loyalty programs require something of the customer more than simply spending money at your store that alienates them.
Earning loyalty – and keeping it – is something that needs to be worked on every day. From the time your doors open until the time they close, making sure every customer feels special is essential. It’s making sure your customers are happy, and that means happy customers coming back.