The Golden Rule of Loyalty

By Ethan Tuxill

In an age where the business environment continues to evolve, accelerate and everyone seems busier than a one-toothed man in a corn-on-the-cob eating contest, I want to hit the pause button and reflect on what has remained a vitally important element of the B2C relationship: understanding and being understood.

Whether you’re an international Fortune 500 company or a single location coffee shop, your brand’s success is directly tied to how well your business and product offering resonates with the public. This may be obvious, but there are countless businesses that don’t take this into consideration when building their brand.

Think about it for yourself; anytime you elevate a specific brand or business over another in your mind, it’s usually due to the fact that what they offer you as a customer aligns with what you hope for out of them as a business and what you care about. This is especially true for loyalty programs.

There are an astounding number of loyalty programs floating around the business stratosphere, and most of them are just added noise in the already cluttered marketplace. Customers can see through a crummy program that offers little benefit for frequenting a business and often, having such a program can be damaging to your brand. Adding more complexity and “features” that customers don’t find compelling is not only a waste of resources, but a mark of an out-of-touch business.

Offering rewards that give a real benefit to the customer and that are perceived to be meaningful, not only generates goodwill and loyalty, but shows you are attuned to what your customers value. Generosity and graciousness show that you care about your customers enough not to presume that you deserve their business.

A glowing example of gracious generosity and an in-touch business comes from one of our most successful businesses; Wooden Legs Brewing Co. On Christmas morning, they sent out a free Christmas beer to their most loyal customers, a no-strings attached gift. This kind of approach to customer generosity and long-term relationship building is part of what has made their program wildly successful.

Customers aren’t ignorant; they understand that business owners can’t give away the whole farm just to get them in the door (good loyalty programs are careful with and focused on margins, profits and sustainable pricing). Customers also know that getting 10% off after spending $200 is like paying with a $20 and telling the waitress to keep the change on a bill for $19.82. However, there is a sweet spot in between skimping and getting pillaged, and customers gravitate towards companies that understand that and whose loyalty programs reflect that.

The most valuable business to customer interactions are more than just an exchange- they are about building a relationship. When this happens, repeat revenue is sure to follow.

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