My barber gave me a card not so long ago which I could get stamped every time I went back and once I had been back six times I would get a free haircut. This is either to thank/reward me for being a loyal customer or, the sceptic in me says, to encourage me to come back rather than go elsewhere.
Of course there are plenty of businesses that offer such reward schemes, supermarkets with their points, coffee shops who give away a free coffee with every 10 purchased etc.
But, I can’t help but think that customer loyalty is, or should be, something that is earned not bought. Earned by giving the customer a good grade of service and providing the customer with what they want.
As a consumer, I am buying a product or paying for a service, providing the service is good and to a level I would expect to provide myself through my own business then I’m happy to pay and I would return.
So far I’ve not used the card the barber gave me because I forget to take it with me. But I keep going back anyway because I’m happy with the service and the haircut. I don’t need the promise of a free one to make me return, likewise I wouldn’t return just because of a free haircut if the quality of service was poor. Just like I wouldn’t return to a cafe that gave me bad service or served poor tea/coffee just because my tenth one was free.
I guess my point is, make sure that your service is the very best it can be, always maintain high standards of service and customer loyalty will be a natural consequence and you can stop giving stuff away for free – unless you genuinely want to thank a customer.
Am I just a naive idealist or is there substance to my point? J