Customer loyalty programs…you got some ‘splaining to do

Yesterday morning at—of all places the gas station—I had an “a-ha!” moment.  My realization: Your customer loyalty program—no matter how it can help them save time or money—will not automatically cut through the “clutter” of your customer’s lives.  Instead, it is necessary to look at how your product or service fits into the lives of your customer and then explain your loyalty offering in a manner that resonates with your customer.   While this simple thought is indeed one of the foundations of “loyalty marketing 101”, as marketers all too often we are quite focused on the intricacies of the product or service we are marketing and forget how it really fits into the tapestry that is the lives of our customers.

The impetus for this return to the importance of “loyalty marketing 101” is this: I saved 50 cents/gallon on gas yesterday at my local Shell gas station.   The reason I was able to save 50 cents/gallon on gas goes back to a trip that I made last week to the Giant Food grocery store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (where I was on a short vacation, leisurely shopping with my father for the makings for a delicious dinner of homemade pizza).  While checking out, someone finally explained to me how the Giant Gas Rewards program works.

Now in full disclosure, I am sure that people have tried to explain how the program works to me more than once in the past.  However, when I am in the grocery store it is rarely a pleasure trip. It is a necessary errand that I am completing before moving on to additional necessary errands, often ruminating on things more relevant to my day: such as whether I have too many perishable items to risk a stop at the drugstore and drycleaner before taking the groceries home.

One more factor in my not paying attention to the Giant Gas Rewards program before now: I live in the suburban sprawl surrounding Washington, D.C. (which has the second-worst traffic in the United States), and as such have no desire to do anything that would mean that I spent more time than necessary in the car or doing a car-related activity.  I automatically assumed that in order to save money on gas it was necessary for me to go into the actual gas station, fill something out, sign something, wait for a voucher in the mail, etc.   However I figured I would give it a try once the ease of the program was explained by a real person: You go to a Shell station, you swipe your Giant Card through the credit card reader at the pump before you start pumping, and like magic you get a discount.

So herein lies my “a-ha” moment—it occurred when I realized this:  Once someone who was knowledgeable about the Giant Gas Rewards customer loyalty program got my attention in a manner that spoke to me, in an easy to understand fashion, I knew that I had to at least give it a try.  And now, less than 24 hours later I am not only a loyal customer to not one but two brands  and I will continue to shop exclusively at Giant and get gas at Shell as long as I save money on gas in the process!!

And isn’t that the reason for a customer loyalty program in the first place?

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