Tag Archives: customer loyalty program

5 Examples of Loyalty Building Activity

Continuing on the theme of building loyal customers I’d like to look at 5 examples of the type of activities that let your customers understand that they are known, valued, and cared for.


1. Knowing who they are.
I worked for a VERY short time in the car selling business…hated it. One of the things that REALLY bugged me was that we’d collect all the pertinent customer data, name, address, phone number, etc…and then, if we’d convinced them to purchase a vehicle, they’d go into the finance office where the first thing they were asked to provide was their name, address, and phone number. LAME, LAME, LAME…but I don’t feel strongly about that. pffft

I recently rented a very expensive camera lens for the fourth time from the same vendor who has also, by the way, done maintenance work on a camera body of mine. I have had to provide that basic info every time as though I had never been in their store. If I had another choice to rent from I would give them a try in a heart beat.

2. Knowing what they’ve done with you.
I’m becoming a fan of Discount Tire. Every time I go in the look me up in “the system” and quickly ask something akin to, “Great Mr. Fletcher which car today? The Altima, the Toyota Van, or the MR2?” Last time that was followed with, “Shouldn’t be the Altima, looks like you got a full set six months ago at our Arapahoe store.” (60 miles and six months away in Denver.)

It’s a simple thing but it says, “We know you’ve done business with us in the past, we know what it was, and we value that.”

3. Knowing what they need.
I started my corporate career in B2B eCommerce with Corporate Express.  This was way back in the day when people were still saying the internet might just be a fad. We had customers ordering paper and copier toner cartridges from us on a very regular basis. The info we had made it possible for us to proactively suggest orders.

“Based on the timing of your order history it looks like you may be due for a couple toner cartridges, can we order up a couple for you?”

This is non-intrusive, provides a reminder when someone may be otherwise swamped and says, “hey, can we provide a hand here based on what we know about you?”

4. Creating a sense of belonging.
I’m really surprised that more car dealers don’t do this. When I have had a question about my Nissan Altima or my Toyota MR2 I go online and look for car enthusiast forums. I typically find the answer in a heart beat. If I were one of those companies I would be the one creating the forum.

When I was a product manager at Oracle we found HUGE value in creating and monitoring user groups. We knew what our customers liked and didn’t like and were able to be a part of the conversation and in turn they felt like they had a voice. Create the forum and you get to help guide the conversation.

5. Offering based on knowing.
I received two offers in email today. One from Disney for some children’s films and one from The Fall Frenzy Triathlon reminding me that early bird registration was opening next week AND referencing my age group. Both offers knew me as a past customer but only one knew who I was and added that to the offer. The other, sadly because I am a hug Disney fan, didn’t recognize that my kids, whose data they have, are all much older than that.

What are you doing today to build loyalty amongst your customers, followers, readers?

3 Strategies for Developing Loyalty by Promoting Your Brand

I do believe that the first rewards program to which I was ever subjected was in Sunday school somewhere around second grade. We knew if we came prepared with our memory verse each week for enough weeks in a row we’d earn the reward. Pencils, stickers, small toys, whatever it was we wanted it.

The trouble was we always forgot about it until Sunday morning. Mom would ask in the car en route to church if we had our verse memorized and the scramble would begin.

This is really no different than the challenge faced by most loyalty programs today. They’re looking for repeat buying behavior but they have to find a way to stay top of mind so that you’re not scrambling to remember your card, or your coupon, or you membership number when you’re already out the door.

Granted a lot of that trouble is solved with electronic record keeping, I don’t think I have used my Block Buster card at the video store in years, but the challenge remains: How do you keep your brand top of mind for your customers in a way that promotes easy loyalty?

Allow me to suggest three strategies for building *brand loyalty:

1. Offer, don’t Overwhelm
Don’t think that just throwing your name out there time after time after time will build loyalty. It WILL build name awareness sure, but it might build annoyance as well.  Customer Loyalty assumes a customer exists and that you’d like them to be loyal, this is different than pure acquisition.

You offer them the opportunity to self-identify and connect, that’s your loyalty card, or your buy 5 and get the sixth free, or your “subscribe to my blog via”. Now they’re bought in. Don’t feel you need to keep throwing your name at them so they’ll remember you. Move to strategy #2

2. Serve, don’t Suffocate
Now that your customers have self identified find opportunities to serve them. That doesn’t mean sending them a 50% off sales flyer every other week. It means providing value that fosters connection.

In the blogosphere Michael Hyatt is a master at this. If you subscribe to Michael’s blog and follow him on Twitter, as I do, you’ll find that he doesn’t inundate with you email updates about new posts. What he DOES do is regularly tweet links to things he believes his subscribers will find valuable. In short he provides a service to his community. He gains credibility in an unobtrusive manner and in that way he stays top of mind because he serves.

3. Analyze, don’t Assume
I’ve mentioned this one before but your long term strategy must be based on understanding your customers behavior. Capture, analyze, test, don’t assume that my return visits automatically mean I am a hug fan of everything your brand entails.

Starbucks is a great example of a company that want’s to tailor your experience based on your behavior. Their Gold Card program helps them understand who you are as a customer and react to you accordingly. It isn’t nine stamps on a paper card to get your tenth coffee free. It’s knowing what you order and when. Their analyzing you as an individual because you have self identified and joined. That analysis helps them make you feel known, valued, and cared for.

Whether you’re a blogger, a coffee shop, an author, or a hotel chain you need to offer, serve and analyze. In doing so you’ll stay top of mind and they’ll remain loyal.

What tactics do you use to keep your brand top of mind for your customers?

*There is no way to build brand loyalty if you have a crappy product or service. That goes without saying, which is why I didn’t say it.

The Conerstone of Loyalty: Capturing Customer Behavior

I was saddened to learn within the last few weeks that the television show Cheers is not quite the cultural reference it once was. Sam and Diane’s clumsy relational tension, Norm and Cliff pontificating from the corner of the bar, Carla’s cutting wit…it just doesn’t hold the same sway it once did.

That being said I still believe that show’s tag line pretty much sums up the idea of why we need to capture customer behavior:

“You want to go where everybody knows your name”


Cheers was one of those bars where the regulars WERE known by name. All they had to do was walk in the door and a glass was pulled up to start provision of their favorite libation. Part of the draw of the show was that we all like that kind of service. We like walking into a place where we’re known and treated like family.

But it’s more than that. If it was JUST knowing someones name it would be easy. The difference comes when you can ask, “So what’ll it be…the usual?” and know what you’re talking about.

I fly United probably more that any other airline because Denver is a hub for them. What if United defaulted to an aisle seat when I booked online because I have proven, over ten years, that that is where I want to sit.

I stay at Hilton properties quite often. What if the Hilton web site picked a king size, non-smoking room as a first choice every time I logged in and looked to make a reservation. They should be WELL acquainted with that choice by now.

And perhaps the craziest of all…Based solely on my direct purchase history with them, Disney SHOULD be able to identify:

  • The names and birth-dates of everyone in my family
  • Our wedding anniversary
  • The time of year we like to travel
  • The number of days we typically visit the parks
  • The extras we like to include in our trips

Data like that is a GOLD MINE. With information like in hand they could tailor enticing offers based on specific data and past behavior. They could actually ask, “Mr. Fletcher will it be the usual this year? A three day stay sometime in October?”  or “Mr. Fletcher would you and your wife like to join us for a cruise this July to celebrate your 22nd anniversary? What about bringing the kids this time? They’re probably a little…Grumpy…you left them out last time. We’d like to offer you a free cabin upgrade so you can bring them along.”

I know, I know, it sounds like it could border on creepy and I do push the boundaries there to make a strong example but the data they should already have on file would make that type of communication incredibly simple.

All of a sudden I’m not just receiving 20% off coupons like everyone else. I’m known by name. I’m not standing in line, pun intended, with a thousands of people who have never had an annual pass. I’m appreciated. I’m not clicking on a blanket email link. I’m getting a specific offer that says : ‘We know you and have something special for YOU because we value you as a customer.’

Let me say that one more time:

  • We know you
  • We value you
  • We have something special for YOU

THAT drives loyalty like nothing else.

What more could you do with the customer data you already have? What other types of data should you be capturing in order to show your customers you know their name, and so much more?





Customer Loyalty Programs: Some Do’s and Dont’s

I knew I had a couple loyalty program cards around somewhere. It turns out this wasn’t even all of them.

Let’s face it everybody has some flavor of loyalty program these days. Almost every last one of them is designed to do the same thing: get you to come back to buy more. Airlines, hotels, grocery stores, restaurant chains, they all have something to offer.  In fact the notion of a loyalty card or membership card is so pervasive we almost take them completely for granted.

So how do you rise above that mess on my desk?

1. Don’t assume: just because they come back doesn’t mean they’re loyal.

Loyalty programs are funny beasties. On the one end you have people who love you and WANT to come back. In the middle you have people who feel they OUGHT to come back, they’re more loyal to attaining the next level than doing business with you specifically. On the far end you have those who feel that they HAVE to come back because that’s where they have all their points.

I confess I’m typically of the ought to variety. Old Chicago’s World Beer Tour is one of the loyalty programs to which I am most loyal. I’ve completed the tour twice and am working on my third trip. But that doesn’t drive me in there any more often. It just makes me mad when I forget to bring my beer card.

DO pay attention to whether your loyalty customers are WANTs, OUGHTs or HAVEs.

2. DON’T forget: Loyalty and Appreciation are close relatives

Most loyalty programs include discounts. I’m becoming less of a fan of discounts because they seem to speak to value. I rather like the Chick-Fil-A approach, if they’re going to give you something they’ll give it to you for free. They aren’t going to comment on the value by discounting.

While discounting does make me feel appreciated as a customer it’s really just price manipulation. I’d rather get “something else”. Maybe it’s a particular set of items only available to members, even the standard “tenth one is free” is ok.

Even better though I’d like you to tailor offerings to how I do business with you. For example, United Airlines should know by now, after hundreds of thousands of miles, that I will do whatever I can to get an aisle seat. What if in knowing that preference they offered me priority aisle seating? Not only would I feel appreciated, I’d feel like they knew me.

DO appreciate your loyalty customers by showing that you know them.

I could go on for quite some time on this topic, and probably will. For now though ask yourself two questions:

1. How do I get my loyalty customers coming back because they love us rather than because they are after the next point level?

2. Do I know my loyalty customers well enough to appreciate them personally?

More to come…

In some industries it cost cost as much as five to ten times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an old one. What are you doing to keep your old ones? What does loyalty look like in your customer base?