It didn’t feel good. I recall thinking: “This is my reward for loyalty? I rack up thousands of miles on this airline—and this is what I get?” These days, companies are feverishly looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their competition. They’re searching for best practices that will engage customers and create long-term loyal buyers. Yet, there’s one insulting practice that remains alive and well. Refrain from using it and you’ll have a distinct advantage over your competitors.
Here’s the scenario. I was finally cashing in miles earned from consistent domestic and international flights. Carley and I were headed to Northern California for a week-long “dad-daughter” camp. After securing our complimentary tickets, the airline was unable to provide adjoining seats based on the fine print: limited seating selection. My daughter and I traveled cross-country sitting on different rows—victims of fine print trickery.
I recently received an email from a resort I’d visited. At first glance the bold print seemed to promote an enticing opportunity for loyal customers. It read, “GO DISCOVER. Save up to 30% at one of our 60 properties…” Then, just like the airline experience, they stripped away value in the fine print:
Subject to availability. Minimum stay varies by property, see participating property for details. Application for new reservations only. Not applicable to groups, conventions or in combination with other savings or discounts. Blah, blah, blah…(delete email promotion).
Compare these experiences to the time I visited Starbucks and I had to wait longer than expected for my drink. As a means of making amends, an employee handed me a free drink coupon. My natural reflex was to search for restrictions and limitations. I found none. Starbucks had forgone the fine print in order to simply and powerfully demonstrate their appreciation for my business. Any drink I wanted at any time I wanted it. What a novel idea to substantiate my value as a customer.
Abort fine print. If your goal is to recognize, appreciate, or apologize to customers through a special offer—then do that. You’re better off to forgo the offer all together rather than deflate the customer’s value by restricting how they might enjoy it. A no-strings-attached approach is a sure way to engage your customers. Give without limitations and watch customer loyalty (and profits) soar.
Leave your comments: Tell us about a no-strings-attached approach your organization uses to recognize/reward customers or employees?