Like many people, my wallet is bulging with loyalty cards. Boots Advantage, Costa Coffee Club, Tesco Clubcard, Cass Art… the list goes on. I am just glad I found an app so I can just keep them all on my phone!
Does this plethora of cards mean I’m a loyal customer of all those brands? I’d say no. I use the cards when shopping with the aim of collecting points or stamps and eventually getting money off or a freebie. But it doesn’t make me go out of my way to go to a particular shop.
What does make me loyal is great customer service. Some places get this spot on.
Yes, there is a loyalty programme. And it’s actually rather generous compared to some of the big chains. But it’s not the loyalty programme that makes me return. It’s the lovely man who runs the place.
It started with him remembering my husband’s name and welcoming us all every time we went in. Over time, he also learnt my name and my two kids and greets us all, whatever combination we’re in, with a smile and nice chat every time. He doesn’t need to ask our names or if we are collecting loyalty points. He just knows.
Another example is a bar I used to go to quite regularly. They had lovely wine and live jazz on a Sunday evening so (pre-kids) I went most weeks. Whilst I don’t think the maître d’ knew me or my husband by name, he obviously recognised us and welcomed us personally and warmly every time, chatting to us like he remembered us.
We work hard to ensure a brand’s digital customer journey is seamless. But, if the people who are the face of the brand don’t live the values, all that hard work can be forgotten the second a customer experiences the brand in real life.
Don’t get me wrong, some big brands get it right. But there are a number who could learn a lot from how small independents deliver face to face customer service.