Loyalty is a fickle thing. While your customer has consistently serviced their vehicle with you, when they get that $19.95 oil change coupon from your competition, will it go in the trash, or will they choose to take advantage of it and defect to the competition?
Most consumers love sales and discounts. In fact, the whole reason negotiation exists in showrooms is the perception of a “good deal,” which is completely subjective and varies from dealer to dealer, as well as customer to customer. A whole new sector of business has sprung up that offers consumers advice on what a good deal is. Then let’s look at Black Friday — a cultural phenomenon where customers camp out for weeks to save $200 on a television. It’s surprising the lengths that some consumers will go to and the time they are willing to spend researching and shopping for that sometimes elusive “good deal.”
So what if your business decided to never have a sale again? Gone would be those customers that only come in to your business for that discounted service, or that customer that drives 100 miles to save $250 on a vehicle, that you’ll never see again.
But, we still want to keep our customers coming back. So, how do we continue rewarding our truly loyal customers and make them immune to competitor offers?
A fascinating article on RetailDive explored the tactic that many businesses are adopting – the premium loyalty program. Amazon has been extremely successful with this program. According to the article, it’s estimated that half of all U.S. households belong to Amazon Prime. Let that sink in a moment. Half of the households in the U.S. pay Amazon $99 per year for the privilege of buying merchandise from them. In return, they get special perks, including 2-day shipping, and that $99 expense is revenue generated before the customer has ever purchased a single item!
The article also states that Restoration Hardware chairman and CEO, Gary Friedman, recently announced that his company is adopting a premium loyalty program. Friedman stated that, “Our lives are filled with complexity – and we long to break through the clutter to find simplicity. We want to shop for what we want, when we want and receive the greatest value. So rather than navigating countless promotions, we’re changing things… because time is the ultimate luxury.” The company plans to charge participating customers $100 per year for membership. In exchange, members get a flat 25% discount on all regularly priced merchandise and 10% off of clearance items.
According to the article, the thought process behind a premium loyalty program is simple: customers that pay to join are more likely to continue to patronize the business because they want to get the most value from their investment (ROI).
The article further found that interest in premium loyalty programs is strongest among millennial consumers. Three quarters of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 and 77% between the ages of 25 and 34 told LoyaltyOne they’d consider joining a fee-based rewards program, while 61% of 18-to-24 year-olds and 54% of 25-to-34 year-olds contend that fee-based rewards are better than free ones.
The beauty of a premium loyalty program is that customers no longer feel as if they need to search for the best price, or wait for you to have a sale. For members, any day they choose to do business with you, they save money. Premium loyalty programs also offer retailers valuable data on their best customers, which can then be analyzed and used to monitor shopping behavior and make more relevant and personalized interactions.
It’s all about how you treat your customers, and it’s about digging in and knowing them, working with them and delivering a better experience.
Author: Michael Gorun
Michael Gorun is founder of Performance Loyalty Group, a technology-based owner retention and loyalty company. He has more than 25 years in operational service management positions for Ford, Nissan and General Motors. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.