I don’t want your loyalty programme
There is a little shop down the road from where I live. It’s a shop that I drove past for 6 months before venturing into, because I thought it was a nursery. Yes, I’m an idiot and no I can’t read. But eventually I noticed that they sold coffee too. I noticed this because they put up a chalk board outside the shop that said “best coffee in town”.
Well, now there’s a bold statement if ever I heard one, and I considered myself a mild coffee snob at that stage, so thought I’d give it a bash. I parked my car and went inside to try it. The shop is run by a wonderful ginger by the name of Lloyd who’s smile when I first walked in made me feel so unbelievably welcome that the coffee could’ve been mud and I’d still want to hug him. His genuine smile and the excitement to have me in his shop won me over before I even got to his coffee machine. First impression: check
I asked about the coffee he served and he gave me a brief, impassioned tale of searching for the right bean for this store for months before choosing Tribe - a locally roasted coffee - that he felt proud enough to sell to his customers. He then told me how he’d searched for a great barista to make the coffee, but felt that he had to be able to make a great cup before handing the mantle over to someone else fulltime. Only after this brief 5 minute chat did he make me the first of many flat whites I’ve enjoyed from Twigs With Beans. It was an amazing cup of coffee. You could tell from the passion and care taken in making that coffee that Lloyd loved his shop and put his heart and soul into not only my first cup of coffee, but every single coffee he made. And yes, it was one of the best cups of coffee I’d ever had.
A few months later he introduced loyalty cards - buy 10 coffees & you get #11 for free. At that stage I’d grown to love Twigs. I would drop by every morning on the way to work (which offered free coffee) and have at least one coffee. There was a small but growing group of regulars who’d struck up friendships. We were regulars. We all declined those loyalty cards.
You see we love this little coffee shop. We love the vibe, the staff (Bright & Jonas are legends) and we love Lloyd for bringing an awesome coffee shop to our little neck of the woods. I know he makes a decent margin on coffee and can definitely afford to give me a free coffee every 2 weeks, but I want to support and prosper him, not take a free coffee because of some industry-wide loyalty gamification that feeds my ego. I don’t want X % of my purchase back in cash, or my 11th purchase free - I want to give Lloyd my money and in return I want him to give me lots of coffee. I want Twigs to thrive. I want to see this shop grow and spread it’s wings to other neighbourhoods and cities.
Over the years I’ve managed to get my friends to join me in what I’ve experienced and while some agree, others don’t - and that’s ok, because everyone’s different. There is no silver bullet, no single “customer retention strategy” that works for everyone. This one worked for me, and that’s why I don’t take part in Lloyd’s loyalty scheme.
Because he doesn’t need me to.
And that’s proper loyalty.