What’s loyalty worth?

What's loyalty worth?

In an increasingly crowded business environment with consumers bombarded by messages via the internet, advertising and social media, how do you make your voice heard?

“Memorability” is key. Whether it’s through Google, searching a phone book, walking down the high street or trying to find a leaflet. Seeing a memorable name sparks positive emotional feelings and attraction resulting in a more likely booking. So any method of increasing loyalty will be of advantage to you.

Loyalty schemes have been around for many years - remember Green Shield stamps from the 1950’s? Vouchers and coupons are now making a resurgence and ClubCard type points schemes undertaken by some major retailers gather huge data-stores of buyer behaviour.

Consumers see though gimmicks, but do want something special in return for their loyalty. Schemes can help with customer acquisition, retention, increasing spend or frequency and improved understanding of your customers.

Loyalty schemes can offer exclusive offers, discounts, first-buy-try opportunities for members of your mailing list or social media. My Southwold, for example, is a loyalty scheme for the many independent shops in the thriving coastal town, facilitated by a small Portas grant. They offer plastic cards, key-rings and gift vouchers to encourage people to shop in the local ‘indies' .

Many coffee outlets, even fast food retailers, offer a “free” cup after you have collected sufficient stamps or stickers, customers increasingly expect a little something in return for their loyal custom.

Schemes should offer a meaningful and lasting relationship – driving awareness and good repeat business, to help you increase revenue directly and indirectly through word-of-mouth.

It’s worth considering whether your reward scheme applies to all ages and interests and whether you glean key information of benefit to your business, such as greeting a customer by name, the chance to send a birthday card or special offer.

Customers like rewards, be it jumping a check-in queue, exclusive offers for filling in a survey, first chance to sample a new menu or priority treatment.

Loyalty is both behavioural and emotional – it needs to be more than ink stamps on a card, and at best, demonstrates why you put the customer first, to ensure that customer remembers your business and keeps returning.

By Simon Hanney