Customers will return and pay more if they believe in the quality and value of the product or service, and especially if they feel the brand represents their own values and aspirations. Somewhere along the line however, the word loyalty has been hijacked to describe programmes that lock customers into a membership scheme or points system, often in return for obscure and underwhelming rewards.A lot of so-called ‘loyalty’ programmes seem to offer only small improvements to the user’s experience, while giving the company behind them an intimate view of customer movements and behaviours. Similar to electronic police tagging, a lot of points cards and loyalty schemes have become more about data collection and surveillance than they are about rewards or better service.
As customers, our expectations and behaviours are changing. Equipped with a range of research, comparison tools and switching sites, it has become easier than ever for us to move around between different brands to suit our individual needs.
In retail especially, customers are using these tools to demand greater value for money and seek out brands that they can trust. Showrooming is a well known example of these tools being used to play the system, where customers will visit a physical retail store to try products out, or find expert and trustworthy advice, but then ultimately buy the items online at a discount