My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Saturday, Nov 11, 2009

Can a loyalty program actually make you less loyal?

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I don’t have many rules when it comes to my blog posts. I occasionally talk about inappropriate nudity and share too much about the views and opinions I have but one thing I never do (and this is really my only rule) is that I don’t take cheap shots at brands….or really ever say anything negative about brands because as someone who represents brands myself I know what it is like to get dumped on and just don’t feel like being “that guy”.

That being typed I am going to share an experience I have been living through for more then 8 months and it got me asking “Can a loyalty program actually make you less loyal?”

So I travel a lot and doing such I joined an airline loyalty program because, well I like free travel and all the things that come from special attention.

Much to my surprise and delight last February I received in my mailbox 6 upgrade certificates to fly the friendly sky from the front of the plane where I can only imagine is similar to the Playboy Mansion. This excited me and instantly began looking forward to my next trip.

You see by sending me these certificates the airline is hoping I get so used to the pampering and private bathroom in business class that I will not be able to return to the commoners of the back of the plane and from that point forward I would pay the extra fees associated with the higher lever of service.
This might have worked because I am impressionable and all, except for the fact that since February (when I got these) I have flown 10+ times and have never been able to redeem these certificates because the I purchased discounted seats and not the full fare ticket (does anyone pay full fare ever?) and on top of it all these certificates will expire at the end of November.
This was an enormous missed opportunity for the airline because not only am I a chatty girl who would have encouraged others to upgrade so they could experience the airplane grotto for themselves but beyond that they have actually made me care less about who I fly with.
So I ask you…how effective was this surprise and delight?
Takeaway for people who don’t feel like reading the whole post : If you want to give something away for free…give it away for free. Don’t make people work to give you money.
  1. I have to agree. I find that a certain major Canadian drugstore actually makes me feel bad because I hate carrying around cards in my wallet…why not make it easier and somehow tie into my phone number or something for collecting the points?

    There's a certain video rental place that I don't go to anymore because they harass you to buy their "rewards" card, which really doesn't benefit you at all.

    Then there's the bookseller who gives you an extra 10% off everything if you buy their card. Why not just give EVERYONE your best price instead of charging people for the privilege of being your client?

    In all three cases, the loyalty programs these companies have put in place have made me frequent them LESS.

  2. "If you want to give something away for free…give it away for free. Don't make people work to give you money." – haha, yeah, we use to call that a company's "effective sales prevention program". So, yeah, when trying to increase sales or upselling, make sure you eliminate all effective sales prevention programs. 🙂

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