Got points? Perks? Discounts? Of course you do. We all do.
Is your 11th coffee free? Do you get a 15% discount on a $7.99 shirt cleaning bill after you’ve invested $100 in the dry-cleaner’s business? Yes?
Yes, we all have. And we’re all “loyal” to these businesses who have trained us to be so when a reward is teased in our face. We happily jump up on our hind legs, tongue wagging and we beg for more.
Until we don’t.
Loyalty programs should be the ones trained to play dead, not us. Businesses have the capacity to understand every personal need and desire. In fact, there is enough data being collected that can accurately predict when we’ll have such needs and desires. Be it for lack of budget or willingness to invest, if the business does not possess such widely available technology, they merely have to ask customers for that information. Or simply listen; customers are feverishly sharing this information across social networks. The point: there’s no excuse to not know.
Focus on Relevance, Not Perks
Why then do I receive the same offer and perk from Delta Airline’s reward program (my favorite airline by the way) that all other Delta Platinum frequent flyers receive? If they understood me, they’d know that while I appreciate free flights, I’d gladly give up those free flight perks for better accessibility to airport lounges, improved access to seat upgrades or free onboard WiFi.
The reality is that every airline awards free flights when you purchase enough flights to justify their expense. So why do I choose to fly Delta? Because of their loyalty card and free flights? Certainly not.
I choose Delta because they have the greatest number of available flights – and options – when I’m stuck someplace because of a storm, a technical delay or simply because I slept in. I’m more likely to get to where I need to be – despite myself and “acts of God” – if I fly with Delta.
What does this teach us? I’m an individual. I have individual needs and priorities. I value speed, ability to work freely while I travel and access to more flights – not free flights. I’d give up those free flight awards if I’d receive more of the perks that I do value in exchange.
Loyalty Is About the Consumer, Not the Business
Imagine: a loyalty program that is about me and not the business; a loyalty program that is more focused on my needs and my preferences. A business that uses a loyalty program to retain customers and increase spend by truly rewarding individuals and not training us like dogs.
That relevance and customization in a loyalty program would cost the same to deliver in the long term, increase true loyalty and better still, increase advocacy. Imagine the improved customer experience they’d facilitate.
So why then are businesses still treating loyalty programs like a lead-acquisition program instead of a true customer development strategy? Because we’re up on our hind legs, tongue wagging and happily begging for more.
Isn’t it time we stop begging?
Sam Fiorella – Sensei
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego