Are You Rewarding Customers With Conditions?


Are You Rewarding Customers With Conditions?

I’m sure like me; you’re a part of many membership or loyalty programs because you’ve subscribed to a business’ newsletter or bought their product or service. But are you getting rewarded in its truest sense or simply being asked to give them more money in order to keep feeling special and remain part of the tribe?

Many retailers will offer loyalty discounts to get your details for their database, and these discounts may include rewards for purchasing a product, spending $X per month or a surprise gift for your birthday.

So, my question is, “If you have such a loyalty discount/membership program, are you putting so many conditions on it that what you’re actually doing is simply frustrating your customers instead of keeping them as raving fans?”

Case in point: kikki.K.

I’m a huge kikki.K fan, and I had purchased two diaries from them and agreed to become a loyal member (free) and go on to their database. Then in January, I get an email saying, “As a thank you for buying a diary, kikki.K will give you a special gift each month”.  Great I thought, what a lovely surprise. Um no; it is a monthly ‘gift’ with a few conditions on it:

Condition #1– It is a gift with purchase, so not free.

Condition #2 – I have to bring the diary into the store to prove I purchased the diary, even though their database tells them this and I have the email. (Apparently, the email is not enough evidence because the staff want to see us ‘enjoying and using our diary’ with no thought of the space and weight it takes up in the handbag, and for many, wouldn’t be on them 24/7; especially if you head to the shops on a whim and leave everything in the car except keys, phone and wallet.)

Condition #3 – I can’t get the ‘gift’ if I’m using another rewards voucher that kikki.K have sent me, e.g. a birthday voucher.

So, what does this mean for me as a customer?

I went from being excited and feeling special to getting very frustrated because my store visits went like this:

In January and February, it was OK to bring in the email, but by March, there was a stern, “No, you must bring the diary in to get your gift, but we’ll give you a free pass this time.” This is because now the email says you must bring your diary in order to redeem the gift. March was also frustrating because I had my birthday voucher but couldn’t use it to buy my gift with purchase, so why give me the voucher? Why? To get me to spend even more money in the store which again is not a reward. Then April came along, and I took my diary in to get my gift, and they ‘let me’ do two transactions so I could get my gift and use my $10 birthday voucher. Why this couldn’t happen in March, I have no idea?

So, what’s my future monthly kikki.K gift strategy? I still want my ‘gift’, but I’ll spend the absolute minimum to gain it. The result is that they have a frustrated customer, not a raving fan, which I was prior to this, who may or may not gain the monthly gifts. If the gift is not something I really want, then why would I bother. It now involves driving to the store, remembering to take the diary, then, spending precious time I don’t have a lot of, finding something to buy just to get a gift which is usually less than $10.

If you have a membership or loyalty program for your customers, are you actually rewarding them or are you annoying them so much with terms and conditions that their natural reaction is now “Nope too hard, why bother?”

If you’re not sure, I suggest you do these 3 things to truly find out if you have satisfied customers or loyal ones:

  1. Ask your current members how they feel about the rewards connected with your membership/loyalty program and really take on board their honest feedback; good, bad and indifferent.
  2. Be a mystery shopper in your own business, sign up to your program and see what information you’re getting and be in tune with what you’re thinking and feeling as soon as it hits you, and then decide if that’s how you want a new customer to immediately think and feel about your business.
  3. Have your staff or some alliances undertake Step 2 and then analyse the data from step 2 and 3.

Just because your program is free to sign up to, doesn’t mean you can be flippant with your customers because they have given you something very precious and meaningful to them; their personal details and their permission to communicate with them.  Too often we forget there are real people on the end of sign up boxes, to our detriment.

So, please remember this quote from Jeffrey Gitomer, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” Because you definitely want the latter.

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