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September 23, 2004


Nandan Kamat

Companies cannot buy customer loyalty by developing reward schemes which are not personalised. But most marketers think that having a loyalty card and accruing points/ miles is enough for a loyalty program.
Today I hate to have too many cards in my wallet which really dont mean anything. One of them belongs to a leading retail chain, which has not checked what I would like to buy over the last whole year. Coming to Airline frequent flyer programs, the award flights remain an incentive to keep flying with an airline. But more than that, I would really remain loyal to an airline which assures me safety, efficient and pleasing service and recognition of my preferences whenever i approach any of their staff, at the service centre or in the airports. The last bit is missing but the first two reasons still are strong enough to ensure my loyalty. In absence of excellent service, a customer would look at the first chance to defect by redeeming his points balance.

David foster

Companies that really want customer loyalty should focus on hiring employees who are customer-oriented, and on maintaining a culture that keeps these employees happy. They should also provide efficient mechanisms for front-line employees to forward their ideas and experiences to those in a position to do something about them. And they should avoid the excessive use of Taylorist techniques (like giving employees scripts that tell them exactly what words to say in all circumstances)

Frequent-buyer programs may be worthwhile, but they are merely nibbling around the edges of the real issue.


Good points! Loyalty to American Airlines? Are you kidding me? I hate to say it, but I think these loyalty cards work. The point is you belong with/to them in some strange way. Even if you don't particularly like them. Meet your new in-laws!

I now have a card for a drug store chain, and I have to caution myself before I use it. The drug store is, from my vantage point, indistinguishable from its 2 main competitors. But I only have one drug store loyalty card, and it’s nested with my one gas card and one library card and ....I question myself each time I dig for it in my Costanza-styled wallet.

Since acquiescing to the agent's plea for me to sign up, I don’t exactly look forward to a free bottle of contact lense solution sometime in the next few months. Of course such rewards are presented as the goal, but they're incidental. The reward for me is that I belong.” There you go, Mr. D." I’m afraid whether these cards and their promise of belonging really matches who I am and who the company is may or may not be all that relevant. I belong because I belong.

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