Today, I found out that a major electronics retailer no longer considers me a high-value customer. As I left the register, they reminded me that I had 15 days to return my items, a significantly shorter period than the last time I shopped. Surprised, I asked what had changed, and the clerk said, “Let me see…ah, you’re no longer a high-value customer.”
There it was, just like that.
Never mind that I have spent thousands of dollars each year with that retailer, both online and in the store. Never mind that my lifetime total is likely significantly higher than the average. Never mind that I go to their site or store as my default. It only mattered what I spent since New Year’s Day.
Their problem, whether they know it or not, is that customer loyalty is a fast-evolving practice. While other brands are coming up with “Lifetime ________” to recognize a customer’s overall value over time, some are keeping it simple in ways that won’t ultimately reward the customer or the ongoing relationship, and thus, the brand.
I doubt what happened today was due to the retailer’s lack of appreciation for my business. I suspect, instead, that their loyalty initiatives are behind the times, and they have lost their competitive edge. I also suspect that what they’ve set up took some time to create, isn’t easy to change, and simply can’t keep up with the dynamic capabilities of modern customer loyalty management..
In short, it isn’t personal.
Making It Personal
The data, channels, and processing available today to the modern retailer makes loyalty very personal in several ways. We can absolutely know the lifetime spend of a customer; we can know each and every customer’s preferences; and we can know when they’re likely to respond favorably to a particular interaction. In fact, analytics and right-time marketing make it pretty easy.
When we know these things, we can decide when and where to engage with the customer in ways that are the most relevant and meaningful. We can make loyalty the common thread of their purchases and other interaction rather than transactions and math.
Like never before, we have the chance to make loyalty a key factor in a customer’s buying decision, rather than a seemingly opportunistic program with a very short memory.