Loyalty Initiatives Without PointsJuly (Friday the) 13th, 2012 by Peter Roundhill
Reward programs can enhance customer loyalty, but they aren’t a replacement for exceptional products and service. In fact, some of the most effective customer loyalty initiatives don’t involve points at all – they involve surpassing customer expectations and, sometimes, unexpected rewards. The following is an example:
Driving to the beach with the family yesterday afternoon we drove over a nail and punctured a tire. Not a fun way to start the weekend! Luckily, it caused just a slow leak, so we drove straight to the nearest service station. Unfortunately, it was just before closing time so they couldn’t help, which was frustrating, but 100% understandable. So we drove across town to Kal Tire, thinking that if they were closed we could maybe at least park the car there overnight while it still had air in the tire. This is where our unlucky Friday the 13th became a little luckier.
First, we were lucky that Kal Tire was open for another hour, until 6 pm as opposed to 5 pm at the other store. That was lucky. Second, we were lucky that they could help us right away. And finally, we were lucky in a third way, too, and this is where Kal Tire was very clever and showed how an exceptional customer experience, and unexpected benefits, creates loyal customers.
Kal Tire fixed the puncture. 30 minutes later, when it came time to pay, we were told there was no charge! All they said was, “the service is free, there is no charge. Just remember us next time you need any kind of tire service.” Now that’s a company that knows how to reward customers and build loyalty.
Why was what Kal Tire did especially clever with respect to building customer loyalty? Sure, anytime a business gives something away for free it creates happy (and pleasantly surprised) customers. But businesses can’t always be giving away things for free – they need to be strategic. Kal Tire was smart to provide the free service they did, and how they did it. Their investment in me as a customer didn’t cost them much, but it was a very good investment.
Kal Tire didn’t know that I’m a consultant specializing in customer loyalty, or that I write articles on the topic of loyalty and customer experience, and they didn’t know I would write this article now. What they did know, however, was that I was a person who got a punctured tire at the end of the day at the start of a beautiful weekend, which meant that despite my trying to be positive on the outside, really, I was having a terrible day. My evening plans were being ruined (and potentially my weekend plans too if I couldn’t get the problem fixed right away), and I was facing an unexpected bill for repairs. I was even half expecting to be told I would need a new tire (which was the case the last time I got a tire puncture), so really, my day couldn’t get much worse.
Kal Tire also knew from their records that I have used their services before in the past, but not regularly. I have no idea where I got my tires serviced the last time – maybe Kal Tire, but maybe not. They knew though that I was a prospective repeat customer and that I hadn’t in the past been a highly profitable customer, but that I had the potential to become so. They also knew that it wouldn’t take a whole lot of effort, on their part, to change my attitude about the whole punctured tire experience from extremely negative to extremely positive.
As it turns out, the puncture wasn’t serious and the bill, had they charged it, would have been just $35. But it was amazing how that small gesture changed me from an unhappy person because of my problem to a very happy person because of my appreciation for their company.
I have since learned that Kal Tire typically doesn’t charge to fix punctures for tires purchased from their stores. I know my tires were not purchased from Kal Tire. They may have installed them for me, I don’t know, but I know I didn’t buy the tires themselves from Kal Tire. I probably will next time though. And Kal Tire didn’t tell me they don’t charge to repair tire punctures on tires they sell – I found that out later. All they said was, “no charge,” no reason given.
The above story is an example of how exceptional service and exceeding expectations creates loyal customers. Way to go Kal Tire!
Kal Tire is a BC-based tire service company with 240 locations in eight provinces and territories across Canada. Presently they are not part of any reward programs, but even without one they know the secret to creating loyal customers – through the customer experience, exceeding expectations, and unexpected rewards.
Kal Tire is not a client of PR Loyalty Solutions and has not paid anything for this story. (They don’t even know about it in fact). They are simply a good business that deserves recognition for their effectiveness at creating loyal customers.
(Copyright PR Loyalty Solutions, 2012)