The question of loyalty, how to encourage it and then, how to keep it, has been a hot topic this year. We are now 17 years on from the launch of the Nectar loyalty card and 24 since Tesco Clubcard, and it’s been making me thinking about what loyalty is, and as a consumer, what it means to me?
Sadly, paper stamp cards never quite caught my imagination, though that might have been partly my own fault. Over the years I collected many a paper card, I would estimate in advance of thirty. Once, just once did I manage to fill the card before losing it. I am, however, much more engaged now we’re moving towards digital formats; it’s easier to manage and does indeed encourage me to return and build up my points/stamps.
Still, while the stamp card encourages me to repeat spend with a brand, and it fosters my loyalty, it’s not the key to winning it in the first place. So what is? Putting food/drink quality aside, I feel it is the combination of three things: staff engagement, venue design/layout and marketing that gets me.
Working in the city, I would pop to the same coffee shop frequently because the staff always made the effort to engage with me, they were friendly and always offered conversation beyond “that will be £5.25, thanks”. Knowing I would receive a warm welcome made my visits about more than just grabbing a quick drink. When that shop moved location, meaning I’d have to walk an extra five minutes to get my drink, I was happy to add to my journey.
Design and layout comes down to branding, true, but also about well thought-out operations. If I’m going into a restaurant or cafe to collect food that I’ve pre-ordered, it’s usually because I’m short on time. In these cases, I want to be able to see the collection point clearly and to get to it without having to join a long queue of customers that are yet to place their order. The whole process should be simple and streamlined; my food should be fresh and ready for me when I arrive. Give me a great, flowing experience like that and you can be sure I’ll be back again.
Finally marketing. To an extent, marketing comes down to personal taste. I like bold colours and images that shout about a brand being vibrant and unique, but while that catches my eye, it’s not the aspect of marketing that wins my loyalty. Encouraging that comes down to the content and the offers I’m presented with. When a company tells me they do steak and beer Tuesday, I couldn’t care less. I’ve never ordered a beer in my life. If they are running an offer on Saturday brunch with Prosecco, then I will sit up and take notice! Each time they target me with an email or advert that hits home, my trust in them grows. I can trust that they won’t waste my time and that they have put thought into who I am as a customer.
That last point is where I believe some food operators are falling down. Clothes stores, like Finery do this very well, so does Amazon (as we all know). I have less examples of restaurants that have nailed personalised marketing, however I like to think that this will change in 2020. More often, operators are collecting spending data from customers, and it’s just a small step from collecting that data to using it to for targeted, personalised, marketing campaigns.
According to Wikipedia, I am a Millennial. That makes me a target for many mainstream brands. So to them I will say that I consider myself a pretty loyal person, but gaining that loyalty is a slow process. I’m not a fan of routine, I like variety and I’m extremely sceptical. However, if you engage with me and make my experience a good one, you might earn yourself a customer for life.
It’s not as catchy as: ‘When is a door not a door?’ (answer, when it’s a jar) but it speaks to the idea that in-car collection, and the technologies that support it, are flexible enough to bend to the needs of a business and its guests.
Delivery can be daunting to the uninitiated, and it might be tempting to sign up with a third-party ordering aggregator that offers the service, such as UberEats, but other options could suit your business and brand better. Here we present three different ‘levels’ of delivery, starting with the most basic – and cheapest method: doing it yourself.