images-2Loyalty programs are an interesting concept in the B2C world. It’s based on the premise that there is an exchange of two things that are mutually beneficial – typically an email or a phone number, in exchange for something that the consumer finds purposeful, (i.e., a discount on your products).

Let’s be clear here, the value to you, the business, is far greater then the thing you’re giving away for many reasons but primarily because  with a customers email you can do highly targeted direct marketing – arguably the highest converting form of advertising.

You, the business owner, have a idea of the value of your customer, both in the one-time transaction and in the lifetime value.  Based on that value, you get to decide what percentage will be allocated to retaining that customer, and in acquiring new ones. These are your marketing dollars.

Let’s take a look at this relationship from the perspective of a customer:

First of all, I don’t feel loyalty to a big corporation because by definition that would infer a faithfulness or devotion to them. I’m loyal to my family and to my friends, and would do anything to defend them because I value them in my life on an interpersonal level.

When I exchange my email and phone number with a business in exchange for something of value, that’s not loyalty, that’s reciprocation. We’re trading two things for a seemingly mutual benefit. And let’s be honest here, generally the business is getting the better end of the deal since an email represent direct contact with their target market. (but that’s a different post for a different day).

Let’s take Petsmart for example. We are in Petsmart every 10 days purchasing crickets for my son’s lizard. I drive a mile past their competition in order to shop there because their crickets are a few pennies less (it’s a principle thing). Their cashiers are trained to ask with every transaction, “Do you have a Petsmart card?”

So it’s at this very point in the transaction that I get peevish. There is an opportunity right here in the transaction to separate themselves from their competition, and this is something any business can do and create a customer experience that takes it to the next level. It’s so simple it’s ridiculous, yet highly effective in creating a sense of loyalty BACK to me. We’re talking about a free and easy strategy to reach across the register and build loyalty.

A BETTER WAY TO DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU VALUE MY LOYALTY

It’s as simple as this, as soon as a customer tells you that they are part of your “loyalty” program, you look them in the eye and say with a smile,

“Welcome back Pamela, we totally appreciate your return business!”

Instead all I hear is… crickets.

You’ve trained your people to ask if I’m in the loyalty program, now train them to take it to the next level and thank me for returning to your business. Teach them to be exceptional because let’s be honest, we’re fickle and will turn our loyalty if we don’t feel like we matter to you.