You need to keep pace and adapt without giving yourself whiplash. It’s not easy. Baskin Robbins has fewer flavors of the month than what today’s marketers have to choose from. It makes sense. Monty Python sold fewer Holy Grails than Marketing tech providers.
Rather than obsession with the current, be sure to keep an eye on the timeless. People are loyal to the brands they like, all things (price, convenience, interoperability…) being equal. Some brands use loyalty “programs” to codify that relationship. Some of those brands do so to great effect. Some, however, don’t ‘keep score’. They focus on the moments of interaction (all of them, not just transactions). Win those, the logic goes, and everything else takes care of itself.
When it comes to structured programs, everybody says they prefer ‘rewards’ when asked, but I’m not so sure. I think about some of the businesses I’m most loyal to.
Yes, it’s “Points” program is legendary. But, let’s be clear— I pay (a lot) for the privilege of banking points (which often go years between redemptions). Why? The experience. Access to airport lounges, free bags on certain airlines, nifty reports that show how you use the card by category, and, of course, their legendary service when issues arise. Got a bogus charge? No problem. Lost your card? You’ll have a replacement faster than you thought possible.
Also has points associated with it. Also costs money to join. This is clearly a case for perks and experience. Free expedited shipping. Free or discounted associated content. One-click functionality. No friction. I may not ‘love’ the brand. But I need it. That may be equally if not more important. And there are plenty of options. Amazon Prime just has a mousetrap I happily scamper into nearly every damn day.
No points or programs outside of the odd free drink for loyal patronage (whimsically delivered, not according to any schedule). Why do I go? They know what I like and have it ready as soon as I open the door. My favorite bartender also has a photographic memory. He can pick up right where our last conversation left off—even if that was a month ago. That makes me feel special regardless of the fact I’m sure he can do that for everyone in the place. I can get the same drink anywhere. I can only feel known in one place. I feel welcomed.
This one’s really interesting. My local mechanic is actually actively irritating. He’s often gruff bordering on condescending. So why do I go? Trust. I don’t need another friend. I’m all set there. I need someone who knows cars generally— and my car specifically. If he says it needs new plugs, I believe him. When he says it doesn’t need a certain service (“It’s a scam”) I believe him then too. He never oversells. It’s never cheap, but it’s always fair.
Points are great and can really accelerate adoption and deepen engagement, but it has to sit on top of something more fundamental in the here and now of brand interaction.
A superior customer experience is its own reward.
Here’s my checklist to make sure you’re making your appreciation for your customers clearly understood so they, in turn, might reciprocate.
Do these, and you’ll be the one the others are knocking off.