They say airlines are just loyalty programs with a flying problem, and that if investors were to buy an airplane, they’d throw out all that stuff and just keep the juicy loyalty rewards program information. It’s worth thinking about, that kind of information. Especially because I think that most “loyalty” programs are far from that. To me, it feels like a lot of times, if you sign up to some program, it just means you’ll be emailed with “offers” more often. Nice if you want the offers, but couldn’t there be more?
How to Build a Loyalty Program
Know me. That’d be good. I buy quite a bit from Amazon.com. They see my purchase history. And yet, they’re asking me at this very moment if I want to buy a dress. I suppose if I had also recently rented “The Crying Game” and purchased some nice pumps in a size 12, I could understand. But no, it’s because most loyalty programs don’t care what I want. They care about what they need/want to sell. So first, know me. Know who I am, how I prefer to be reached, and what I most want.
Welcome me. For all that I travel, there’s really only one place that actually seems to care that I’m there. The Hotel Colonnade in Boston. My airlines, where I spend thousands a year, don’t care. No other hotel I visit cares, unless someone tells them something about me. But the Colonnade makes me feel welcome every single time. Guess what happens? I find reasons to spend my money with them instead of any other hotel. (Pssst. Loyalty.)
Connect me. I heard a story from Derek Coburn when I ran an event in DC a short while back. He mentioned that not only does he handle his clients’ financial matters, he hooks them into new business. Connections that help me improve my worth will always be of more value than just the end client.
Enrich me. Loyalty programs would really rock if they could help me by extending beyond the simple use of the product or service. There are a lot of ways to think this through. I’ll use the Colonnade again. They have a pretty good gym that works great for over 95% of the folks who stay there. I wanted something a little bigger and more robust to get in a full workout. They had a partnership with one of the (if not THE) top gyms in Boston. Any program where connecting with it gets you even more value beyond the core company product or service is a great thing.
Predict me. This is the most difficult. But any time you can do something to make my life even more amazing by knowing what I need before I know, that’s a great thing. Of this entire list, this one’s the most “blue sky,” because it requires the most thought and data analysis. So save that one for later. Work on the other four.
Now look at that list. Does that look anything like the way your company’s loyalty program works? Do you belong to any programs that look anything like that? I’m betting no to either. And yet, think about the value and the potential worth that will bring to your customer base, as well as your organization. COULD you do all this? Absolutely. Will you? I don’t know. You tell me.