Don't forget to remember post-it note

You have created your brand new loyalty program, you have some fab rewards set up, you have informed the staff, and you’re eagerly anticipating an influx of customers really keen to start earning their rewards.

But then, nothing happens. Despite your nice little sign, your social media posts and your email newsletter, customers just aren’t asking for their loyalty points in store. Why not?

Your loyalty program may be the most generous, easy to manage, incredible thing ever. And your brand too. But guess what? Your customers have other things on their mind too. When they stop by to pick up a few things, they are probably thinking of something else. That could be as simple as ‘get home and watch Netflix’ – to ‘plan and book holiday’ to ‘finally get my own business started’. But it doesn’t matter what it is. Bottom line, your customers are busy. They aren’t necessarily mentally present when they shop. They might know about your loyalty program, they might even carry the card or have the app. But because they’re often multi-tasking when they shop – they’re not thinking about it. Physically they are shopping, mentally they might be somewhere else.

Your job then, is to connect with them. Try to get a few seconds of them focusing on you and what they are doing. Exactly how you do it is up to you – but the following demonstrates a strategy that worked really well in a local café.

A few years ago, I worked in a bakery for a summer. We had a loyalty program going – buy 5 breads and get the 6th for free. We had a handful of customers who would drag out their scruffy paper card and give it to us. The rest did to, when we asked for it. There was one very simple thing the manager did, that truly worked. As part of our training, she talked about the program and how it was important that we ask every single customer to join, or to get their stamps if they were already part of it. ‘Noted boss! Of course, yes, that’s easy!’ we thought. And it is. But like our customers, like every other human being, despite our very best intentions – our brains are crowded. We may be focusing to great effect on each customer, but each transaction consists of several different components – the loyalty program fell behind, after getting the order right, put together quickly, and taking and giving the correct change. But still – we rarely forgot to ask. So what did the manager do that actually worked? It’s almost too simple. She simply placed a big bright not very beautiful note right there on the Point-of-Sale itself. ‘REMEMBER TO ASK FOR THEIR LOYALTY CARD!’ it said.

Apart from the most obvious tourists, we asked every single person. And every single one would react in one of the following three ways:

1.) Say ‘Oh thank you!! I always bring it but I forget to ask for my stamp!’

2.) Say ‘What is your loyalty program, how can I join to get my stamp?’

3.) Say ‘I don’t live in town but I will give this to my friend/relative!’

Number 1 directly shows the customer you care about them enough to want them to get their free reward. Number 2 tells new customers you look after regulars, and they will be rewarded for being one. Number 3 gives the customer a positive memory and opens up for a quality recommendation.

Keep it simple stupid – it works.