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Forget the Coupons: 5 Innovative Ways to Reward Customer Loyalty [Friday Five]


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With vast amounts of data about your customers available thanks to today’s technology, and the multiple ways of reaching out to them, there’s no excuse for not going that extra mile. Brands are able to anticipate buying habits, respond to comments in real time, track location-based information, and be available 24/7. So why are so many customer loyalty schemes lagging behind these technological advancements? Let’s take a look at how technology, cutting-edge customer feedback and just plain old attitude shape some of the most innovative approaches to customer loyalty around today.

1) Build loyalty into the fabric of your company.

We can’t even begin to think about customer loyalty without Zappos coming to mind. This online shopping company has built themselves into a hugely successful brand by making customer service their number one priority. As they say on their website: “Customer service isn’t just a department!”

Rather than creating a customer loyalty scheme, Zappos ensures customer loyalty by providing exceptional service. The company has an entire Customer Loyalty department with 380 people, and loyalty strategies include: sending personal handwritten cards to customers, and encouraging team members to put in a request to send flowers or a ‘WoW’ package (culture book, stickers, etc.). They can even send flowers for a celebration such as a wedding. It’s not just sending items, though, as customer care is such a part of their ethos that there is no time limit on customer phone calls. One record-breaking call even lasted over 10 hours. Now that’s service. And it works—75% of its business comes from repeat customers.

2) Location-based loyalty.

American Express’ loyalty scheme benefits both card holders and merchants with its secure, effortless integration with location-based service Foursquare, earning it first place at the 2013 Loyalty Awards.   In 2012 American Express launched its partnership with Foursquare enabling their card members to unlock location-based offers from high street brands and then redeem them seamlessly, with savings automatically credited to their American Express account. In just the first 3 months card members were able to realize £150,000 of savings with a 91% redemption rate. The development of location-based technology is key to giving customers what they need when they are on the go. This is a great example of integrating the security of a credit card with the data benefits of geo-location.

3) Give your customers more of what they want.

Using your Nordstrom credit or debit card earns you points, which is nothing exceptional. What is exceptional, however, is the experiences you can unlock once those points start mounting up. Nordstrom recognizes that their customers enjoy fashion, exclusivity and shopping, which is why their reward scheme offers exactly this. Once you’ve earned enough points you become entitled to complimentary alterations and concierge services, and then after that you can become eligible for early access to the Anniversary sale, private shopping parties, and even your very own shopping party hosted at your local store! The clever part of this is that loyal customers are going to spend even more using these privileged services, which earns them even more benefits.

4) Reinforce your brand philosophy.

orange fun finder

If you are at a loss as to how to reward your loyal customers, go back to your brand philosophy and use it as a jumping-off point for a program: after all, if your customers love your ethos, they are going to love anything that is inspired by it.

Mobile phone provider Orange is known for its fun and quirky image, and this is reflected in its customer reward scheme. The Orange Fun Finder is designed to let Orange customers have more fun: customers register what they enjoy doing, and then Orange sends them personalized discounts and offers on tickets and events in their area. The personal touch works well and makes Orange customers feel more valued.

5) Small businesses don’t need to miss out.

With high-tech customer solutions now available at low cost, even small businesses can get creative with their loyalty schemes with the help of smart software. FoBoGro founder Devlin Keating invested in a Belly rewards system for his business where customers are able to scan their own QR code card at a screen to earn rewards. The reward system is pretty much limited only by Keating’s imagination: so far he has offered a 30-second grab around the store and the chance to invent a sandwich and feature it on the menu for a week. Small businesses know their customers and the latest technology is letting them reward them creatively for their loyalty.

Your customers are your greatest asset and you want to keep them loyal, so why not think outside the box and give them what they really want from a company? Discounts and coupons are all very well, but technology can help give your customers a unique experience whether you are a small business or a multi-national company. Give your customers the commitment they deserve and come up with creative ways to reward them for not only their loyalty, but advocacy as well.


Originally published Sep 05, 2014, updated Dec 30, 2022

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