Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Loyalty for Sale.

Times are tough. This economy has rocked our world and will continue to for some time. So people start to panic and look for ways to make money. And sometimes those ways are stupid.

I am a loyal United Airlines flyer. I fly over 100K miles a year. Domestic. Last week I found myself in a middle seat on a 6-hour flight from Washington DC to Portland, Oregon. It wasn't because I booked my ticket at the last minute or went stand-by. It was because of a new policy United put in place - to make more money.

Beside me sat a rookie flyer complaining about the 50 bucks she paid to get 5 more inches of room. She was a large woman and apparently didn't read that the extra 5 pertained to "leg room" not "seat room."

United Faux Pas

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I thought this essay from Denise Wymore was amusing and true.

The Showdown by Denise Wymore

Are your rewards out of reach?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when designing a reward program, is making the reward not worth the effort. Or teasing me with stuff, only to discover I would have to spend $100 an hour for 5 years to get that flat screen television - it begs the question Who does that? Who are they targeting?

The answer: no one. Some of these programs are just jumping on the loyalty band wagon hoping that if they build it - they will come.

Case in point. Dunkin' Donuts announced a new reward program. The DD card must be registered online. It's only valid at participating outlets (I put in three different zip codes that I know have stores and none of them were playing yet) and the perks were, well, lame. For example - if you spend between $25.00 and $49.99 a MONTH at participating DD stores AND remember to present your card they will MAIL you a coupon for a free medium coffee and donut. If you go over $50 per month you have your choice of the free coffee and donut OR a coupon for $4.00 off (which will also be mailed). Reading the fine print - you do not get both - you must choose. I can only imagine there's a form involved.

Now is a good time to review your loyalty program to make sure that:

  1. It is free of all deception (fine print) and does not involve a chart listing things like "If it's a full moon and a Tuesday you have a chance at 1/4% off of a new loan (VISAs, used car and signature loans excluded).
  2. An MSR can explain it without using a cheat sheet.
  3. The reward is worth the effort. Put yourself in the member's place when reading your rules. Would you care about the reward? Is it fairly easy to get?
  4. You thank them for their business when redeeming rewards.
  5. You constantly update them on the balance of their reward program.

I'm gonna go get my free pastry at Starbucks now. I guess I just have to "show up" before 10am.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Loyalty and the consumer

During this past six months I've been down a long and winding road through good, bad and downright hellish experiences as an individual dealing with various corporations and their customer service departments. Between negotiating the roadblocks and minefields set up by Comcast while converting to hi-def, attempting to ensure that my husband's computer is protected by a good spam filter/virus protection via McAfee, and downloading/synching the latest IPhone version from Apple, I have determined that sometimes going into a small room and screaming curses to the heavens is not only justified, it's downright therapeutic.

In each of the cases with Apple and McAfee, I have discovered that even after much time and frustration with some of their people, there were still a number of really good people who were willing and able to help me. With Comcast, not so much and in fact - not at all. It truly is amazing how many people at Comcast really enjoy using and abusing what little power they have to ensure that I not only felt beaten up, but now I never want to deal with them again in my lifetime. Maybe that is their plan - make sure no one ever calls back because they know you won't help them.

This occasional blog is about loyalty and how people and companies actually benefit financially and emotionally when there is loyalty and trust between them. I can truly say that I am loyal to a number of companies that haven't always done everything right, but in the end they were there to fix things. We're all human, so you can expect some problems, but also expect a willingness to help. For us to effect change in our relationships (both business and personal), we have to be willing to work with each other. If you don't find that in a company then it's best to give them the message via a "cancel/termination" request. Then and only then will those companies get the message that being successful requires loyalty TO your customers, not just from them.