The Trifecta of What Makes Customers Loyal to a Brand

bexley ohio houseMy family and I finally settled down this past month.

Near the end of April, we closed on a beautiful little house, nestled in the quiet neighborhoods of Bexley, Ohio.

It’s a great town, filled with families, kids, great schools and plenty of community activities. We’re happy.

One of the other things I dig about Bexley is that Main Street is little over a block away from my front door. This is the main drag and it has just about everything work from home hermits need to stay local.

Our bank, the local Starbucks, my kid’s elementary school and a CVS are now within walking distance. Sweet.

My Customer Loyalty and CVS

Bexley CVSIt wasn’t until we moved to Bexley that I became a loyal CVS customer.

It’s a good bet that I’m not their target demographic or age group either.  And yet, without really spending a dollar on getting me int0 their stores, CVS made it’s way into my heart and more importantly, my wallet.

If you read here enough, you’ll know that NR Media Group operates a virtual company model and I work-from-home. During the school year, the flexibility allows me to help get two of my three minions off to school. One of the schools happens to located across the street from the Main St. CVS.

They open at 7AM on weekdays, and so as a busy working dad, I’ve gotten into the habit of restocking milk, bread, shaving cream and other regular needs right after the school drop off.

Sure, CVS has a bit higher prices than some of larger supermarkets in our area, but for me, time is my most cherished asset.

Just a Little Extra Care

Last week was my son Jacob’s last day of school. After drop off and our usual clowning around, I made my morning trip into CVS to restock my morning coffee creamer.

As usually, I walked in to be greeted by the same clerk. We exchanged pleasantries and I darted for the coffee aisle, grabbed what I needed and headed back for the counter.

“You know, you really should sign up for our Extra Care program,” said the clerk. “I see you in here almost every day.”

“I guess you’re right. I usually don’t like to sign up for those … I get more emails than I need. But, I am in here a lot, huh.”

The clerk grabbed a tri-fold paper form that contained two key fobs, scanned one and then slid it across the counter.

“You can fill that out at home and bring it back when you come in next. Oh, and there’s a $2-off coupon on your receipt just for signing up.”

“Cool!  Thanks!” I said as I smiled and turned for the door.

What Makes Customers Loyal to a Brand

Technology-enabled loyalty programs are all over the place these days.

Chances are, if you own a retail chain, restaurant franchise or other business that targets consumers, you’ve been hit up by one (if not many) of these players.

A lot of them are good at what they do, and if you’re considering getting your loyalty program in place or given what’s already there a boost, make sure you understand how they’ll work for you.

The reality of what makes customers loyal to a brand is only partially in your control.  Sure, a good program can pull and keep customers away from your competitor, but it’s not a magic bullet.

What makes customers loyal to a brand isn’t just the snazzy apps, gamification or free stuff; it’s based more on customer behavior.

  1. Convenience:  Is your business located on a route that your customers take every day? Are you located in their neighborhood or on their way to work?  If it does, then you have a good shot of turning visitors into loyal customers who come back again and again.
  2. Recurring Needs:  Is what you have to sell something that the customer needs on a regular basis?  Do you carry a wide variety of products or menu items that have a place in your customer’s home, refrigerator or kitchen cabinets? If the answer is yes and your consistent, then you have a chance at building loyalty.
  3. Rewards of Value:  Points and playing the games that some apps and software promote are great, but what do you get for participating?  Can your customers really earn enough points to deliver a benefit that saves them time, money or hassle? If so, the technology you use will get used by your loyal customers.

Your Loyal Customers

Is your customer loyalty program working?  How and why do you think that is?

Have you been able to leverage the trifecta I mention above?

  • mkedave

    Well said. Loyalty is a result of many things, but mostly when expectations are consistently met.

  • Mike Whaling

    I’ve had this topic sitting in the back of my head for a while. I agree that technology-enabled loyalty programs can be a winner.

    And besides location, I’d add another convenience factor: Make it easy for me to do business with you.

    Here’s an example: Within a block of my office, I have at least a half dozen options to grab that morning coffee … everything from the local hipster hangout to the Starbucks standby. You know who gets my business 95% of the time? Starbucks.

    Why? Because they make it easy. I don’t even need my wallet … I can pay with my phone, and even add a tip, without ever pulling my wallet out of my pocket. And every time I pay with the app (or Passbook), my purchase automatically earns me those points toward their loyalty program.

    On the other hand, the local coffee shop a block away is awesome. They accept credit cards, but you have to sign, even for a $2 purchase. As far as I know, they don’t offer a loyalty program, online or offline.

    I know it seems like a little thing, but removing a few steps (signing a receipt, scanning a separate loyalty card) makes for a more convenient, better transaction experience.

    Starbucks has invested millions in their technology to be able to do this, but small shops can still compete with services like Square, which manages both wallet-free payments and the loyalty program.

    Bottom line: Make it easier for the customer to do business with you, and you’re more likely to keep them a a customer. Now maybe I can get Brioso to make the switch to Square…

  • nateriggs

    Amen brother. I will choose easy over local everytime. I also feel like I go to Starbucks more now than ever because of the app. Always seem to forget my wallet or cash, but rarely my phone!

  • nateriggs