"What Makes Me a Loyal Customer? . . .Hint: It Isn’t Technology"

Nora Lee, Principal

Noralee Et al.

There is a lot of attention being paid to CRM and 1to1 Marketing these days. Books, newsletters, software, white papers and endless seminars abound. The techniques preached through out really boil down to some common sense business practices. Take my dry cleaner for instance. When I moved to a new neighborhood 9 years ago, I took my cleaning to several different establishments. I got basically satisfactory cleaning from each one, but at Champion Cleaners I got a shock. First of all, they accepted my check without ID, and after the third visit, they called me by name. And they still do. It’s a family owned business run by Sammy, who speaks at least four languages, maybe more. He never forgets a face and even more remarkably, he never forgets a garment. He always treats me like I’m important to his business and like he cares about me. It’s an unbeatable combination and a great shopping experience. As long as Sammy is in business he will get mine.

Then there is my huge chain grocery store. Vons Market, a Safeway Company, has been collecting data on me via my Von’s card for six or seven years. They know every product I buy and how often. They know whether I eat cereal for breakfast or bagels. They know I spend about $52,000 a year in their store. They know more about me than my own mother. And yet, instead of rewarding me at the cash register at the time of purchase, my "reward" from Von’s is a bunch of coupons that I have to remember to bring in if I want to take advantage of my "special savings." Think what a lovely experience it would be for the cashier to say, "You qualify for an additional 5% off your bill today. Thanks for shopping with us." I shop at Von’s mainly for the convenience. If they had competition in my neighborhood that really valued me, I’d change stores in a New York minute. They haven’t earned my loyalty.

And finally, a huge company that even Sammy could appreciate. Last year Blockbuster, the video store, started issuing rewards cards for $10. The savings were immediate. As soon as you bought the card, you received a free rental. They do exactly what Von’s doesn’t. When I gather up my movies and go to the cashier, he or she will tell me, "You can qualify for a free rental. Would you like to use it now?" Or they tell me that I can rent a video game for my son for free. Or something. Just about every cash register encounter turns out to have a pleasant surprise waiting for me. I love it! I don’t have to remember to do anything except be a loyal customer and I get lots of positive feedback. That’s how all data should be used – to enhance the customer experience.

Sammy knows that and he doesn’t own a computer. He keeps it in his head. Von’s has all the wonders of modern technology at its fingertips and doesn’t know how to use it effectively. Blockbuster does. The results are quite simple, good customer experiences result in customer loyalty.

Visit Nora Lee www.noraleeetal.com or e-mail her at: NoraLeeEd@aol.com

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© 2001, Nora Lee, Etal

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