Loyalty – you get it from a dog by loving it, rescuing it from a shelter, or giving it a treat. Loyalty – you get it from employees by valuing them, being loyal to them, and building trust by doing what you said you’d do. Loyalty – you get it from a consumer by…what?
In the article Retail analysts: Do the math on loyalty cash, the discussion is about loyalty cards, or discounts on store credit cards, or credits that can be applied to the store. According to a Charlotte-based analyst, the reason to offer these types of rewards is evident – “The obvious benefit here for the retailer is the additional trip.”
So to answer the question above, loyalty – you get it from a consumer by…giving them a discount? Hmmm.
Not real creative stuff here; but the analysis that companies have to make before they embark on these “cash for the consumer” loyalty programs must be done by looking incrementally. What is the net increase in profitability through these programs? To calculate, you have to look at the revenue from the sale less the item’s cost (standard profit stuff) less the cost of the program. Then compare that to what the company would have generated in profit if it had done…I don’t know…nothing! Or maybe if it had improved between-sale communications with the client, or if it had improved customer service, or if it had improved service recovery processes, or if it had been more particular about what customer service-oriented characteristics it looks for in employees, or if it were better at motivating employees.
In other words, these types of loyalty programs should be a last resort. It’s like a price drop for a salesman to get a sale; it’s weak; it’s like having a sale but not wanting to call it a sale.
It might be harder and less sexy to improve performance, hiring practices, client relationship development, and customer service than to have a new cash-based loyalty program, but in the end customers evaluate businesses based on the Employee Attitudes, Service Processes, and Products/Services, and these loyalty programs often put too much focus on a small piece of the loyalty puzzle.
Sometimes it’s good to be less sexy to be more successful in building customer loyalty.
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