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Suzi Shopper: Get with the (Loyalty) Program

Suzi Shopper: Thoughts on business from a consumer’s perspective

So you offer your customers a loyalty program? Great. But now that loyalty programs have pretty much become commonplace, is your program up to the standards customers expect? How comprehensive is it? If you don’t have a loyalty program, that’s a strike against you, but I can tell you from personal experience that if you have a bad loyalty program, that’s an extra TWO strikes in my book.

I bought a blouse at a retailer recently and found that the security tag was still attached when I got home. Bummer. I wanted to wash and wear it the next day, but that was not going to happen.

On the way to my family event (wearing a different blouse), I stopped by the retailer to have them remove the tag. I had called ahead and told them what happened, but I still intended to take my receipt with me just in case. Alas, in my hustle to get out the door, I left my receipt sitting on the kitchen counter. No worries, I thought… I have my loyalty fob on my key ring, so the store can verify my purchase with that.

However, this was not the case. I walked in (security tag still not setting off any alarms, by the way) and got the attention of a sales rep at the POS. I asked her to remove the tag. She inquired about my receipt. When I told her I didn’t have it, she informed me that they require a receipt and that no, they cannot look up past purchases by simply scanning my loyalty card. Huh? I wasn’t too concerned, however, because all the while, she was removing the security tag and handing the blouse back to me.

Despite the sales rep’s willingness to work with me—which I appreciate—I am still disappointed that this store didn’t have all the components that customers would like to see included in their loyalty program.

What are the customer “must haves” in your loyalty program? Do you truly make loyal customers feel appreciated? Do you make shopping with you more convenient, or is your program just a cover for you to get customer information so you can market to them? If so, beware…it will come back to haunt you; they’re called loyalty programs for a reason.