Several days ago, I was at a market I visit only occasionally. As I was checking out, the clerk asked me if I was a member of their loyalty club. I thought I was, so I dug through my purse and finally found the little plastic card that proved that, yes, I was indeed a member.
This is a familiar scene. Most of us have wallets stuffed full of loyalty and rewards cards. And sometimes, with enough purchases, these programs actually enable you to get a discount or something for free.
But does it really make you more "loyal" to that particular business? Do you go out of your way to do business with it?
For most people, the answer is probably "no." I know I sure don't. Loyalty and reward programs are nice, but the problem is that almost every business uses them these days. We've got loyalty club fatigue!
According to author Noah Fleming, loyalty clubs can be a great way to engage your customers if, and that's a big IF, they're done well.
In his new book, "Evergreen," he offers some great advice on how to build a loyalty program that actually works. You can hear what he suggests in this audio clip, from our review of this book.
Listen to the full Book Insight in the Mind Tools Club ¦ Install Flash Player.
The art of customer rewards is just one of the topics covered in Fleming's new book, "Evergreen." He offers plenty of other tips for cultivating customer loyalty that will grow over the long term. Instead of focusing on your latest e-marketing blast or how many Facebook likes your organization has gotten, you learn how to develop deep and lasting relationships with your customers – the kind of relationships that will weather any storm.
Here's a good example.
At first glance, you might not think that buying tires would be an emotional experience. After all, they're tires. But US company Belle Tire has created a community that allows it to actively engage with its customers, all the time.
It has thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, but that's not really what's important. What is important is that Belle Tire employees are constantly talking to their customers through their blog and on social media, in a very authentic way.
Sure, they talk about tires, but they also talk about the Detroit Tigers, the baseball team that's local to where the company is headquartered. They talk about car care, driving, and how to save money on road trips.
They even deal with customer complaints in a very public and honest way on their blog and social media. And they're actively involved in the community, supporting youth sports teams and many other nonprofits.
The result of all this is that Belle Tire has a real relationship with its customers. It's turned the typically bland experience of buying tires into one that's emotional and engaging for people. And the company is a huge success because of this.
The point here is that if a tire company can do something like this, so can your organization.
"Evergreen" is full of practical tips and strategies that you can use to transform how you interact with your customers. Instead of constantly chasing new customers, you can focus your time, money and energy on building relationships with the ones you already have.
Question: What does your organization do to engage your customers? Does it work? If not, what do you think would make it more effective? Join in the discussion below!
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One of the things I constantly remind myself of, is to take a step back and pretend I know nothing about our business. Looking at something from that viewpoint, tells me more about how a customer may experience something. For instance: in the fitness industry, people who work in a gymnasium get so used to the place they forget that other people feel intimidated there. If you take a step back and pretend you don't know anything, what is it that you would have wanted from your gym staff?
By doing that, I can see what a client's most important needs would probably be. If we then make provision for those needs before he asks, the client feels that we truly care. If he feels like that, we've managed to make an emotional connection and we're able to build trust.
I'm curious to know what other people do to connect with customers...don't think we can ever learn enough about it.