It's been almost a year since I started working on various loyalty marketing conferences, and while I would still hesitate to call myself an expert, I feel pretty confident that I've at least spoken to many a loyalty expert. From Mexico City, to San Francisco, to Toronto, I've been speaking with the best and the brightest, getting their feedback on trends in the industry, major challenges, and where they see loyalty marketing heading in the future.
While the experience has been eye-opening, one thing continues to perplex me; the continuous focus of "loyalty programs" as the means of gauging how loyal your customers are. Time and time again I've been told "We don't have a loyalty program, we know nothing about loyalty." Guess what! Loyalty is not won and lost on programs alone.
I recently conducted a quick poll among friends on LinkedIn and asked people "what is the fastest way for a company to lose you as a customer?" and the ONLY 2 answers I got were "poor service" and "poor quality products." No where did anyone mention the loyalty program as a deal-breaker. If that's the case, why is there such a strong focus on loyalty programs? Obviously a loyalty program can provide a lot of great services for the customer, but if we continue to focus on solely the loyalty program, rather than the more inherent needs of the customer, loyalty will continue to evade us, and our customer base.