“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone, I’ll just blog about it, post it on my Facebook and Twitter – oh and yes, I already checked in on Foursquare and sent out a shout out to all my friends!” said the disgruntled customer at the restaurant to the manager. In an earlier post, I talked about how social networks are the new customer comment cards and we should learn to listen more carefully from now on. I won’t be talking about displeased customers in today’s post, in fact, I want to look at the happy loyal ones – ironically, we tend to take those for granted as well.
I’m not a psychologist, and my experience has been limited to and intro class during my bachelors in business – but I clearly remember something called reinforcement.
Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior (e.g. pulling a lever more frequently) by the delivery or emergence of a stimulus (e.g. a candy) immediately or shortly after the behavior, called a response, is performed. (as defined by Wikipedia)
Now let’s look at through my favorite goggles – my marketing goggles. Reinforcement seems to be a great way to reward loyalty – I have to pause and stress on that last part – it rewards loyalty, not increases loyalty – these two are very different.
In this post, I’ll be addressing the subject of rewarding loyalty or what I refer to as brand ambassadors or brand champions. I’m talking about unsolicited loyalty – one that is purely a result of love of the brand, and all it represents! Not only should such loyalty (love) not be taken for granted, but I say it should be rewarded (reinforced).
Due to my frequent travel in my previous job, I have attained the highest level in the loyalty with the Intercontinental Hotel Group – my fortunate loyalty is rewarded by room upgrades, free nights, late check-outs, priority check-in, gifts, and much more … As a customer, I feel privileged and more importantly, I feel appreciated.
OK, some of you might be frowning at the fact that I’m talking about businesses with millions of dollars in budget! But think about it, is rewarding loyalty so expensive. Whoever follows me on Foursquare (or on Twitter for that matter) will notice that I’ve checked into Gloria Jeans Coffee over 16 times (and that’s only because i forgot to check-in every time I went there). Unfortunately, my loyalty has been taken for granted – do you think I’ll have a guilty conscious switching to another coffee place given the opportunity? Not for a second!
In my humble opinion, small businesses have a greater opportunity to reward loyalty, I’d go so far as to say, they have an obligation to do so (if they have any hope of survival).
Case Study: La Ville Cafe & Restaurant – Amman, Jordan
During my visit to Jordan to attend the Media ME Forum that took place on the 7th & 8th of November 2010, I was fortunate enough to meet a great number of like-minded people. One of these people is Zamil Safwan, who among many other things is the community manager of La Ville Cafe & Restaurant. He delighted me with his experience in using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Gowalla to engage their customers, and Foursquare to reward them. They’ve been using the latter for the past 6 months, and he shared with me his learnings to share with you.
How did you use Foursquare for La Ville?
Users started to use Foursquare to check in and the owner thought of rewarding them with something when they returned. We contacted Foursquare and after they verified us as the mangers of the La Ville, they added the management tab, which allowed us to add more info to the venue page at Foursquare and allowed us to create specials. After Foursquare approved the specials, we started with get a FREE coffee and dessert every 5th check in. This special showed up to anyone using foursquare in the area.
What were the results of using Foursquare? ( increase frequency? new customers? word-of-mouth? bottom-line?)
We got Foursquare users from all over to come and check La Ville and some came back to get the special. La Ville is the most checked in venue on Foursquare in Jordan because of the special.
How are you measuring your results? Are there any key-success factors you’re keeping a close eye on?
We check the Foursquare stats page from time to time to see when people check in, which day of the week. Very soon we will try different specials at different times of the day.
I noticed that La Ville has had 425 check-ins on Foursquare, a figure which clearly outnumbers the competition – how did you inform customers about La Ville’s Foursquare activity?
The special acted like an advertisement on Foursquare anyone in the city will see the special ad and will notice La Ville. We used Twitter and Facebook to let people know we are on Foursquare. We also hosted many Social Media activities like Young Leader Social Media Cafe and many #JoTweetUps were hosted in La Ville.
What are some of the customers’ feedback regarding this activity? Any negative ones?
Most of the feedback was positive but some BlackBerry users had some issues with not getting the FREE special showing on the device.
What do the internal stakeholders (owners/management, staff/waiters) at La Ville think of the activity? Positive/Negative? Why?
They liked it for the past 6 months and lately they asked to turn the special off because some people started to abuse it by checking in from far away and then when they have 5 check in they come and claim the FREE special. We are working with Foursquare to add some checks to limit the abuse.
What are some of the lessons you can share with us regarding your experience with La Ville & Foursquare?
Being on Foursquare website / app is a FREE publicity and if someone from out of town comes to the city and just checks their Foursquare they will see your venue and might try it. You can customize your special the way you like and you can have many specials approved and ready. You can alternate between them or run them all at the same time – you’re in control!
Zamil was kind enough to share screen shots from La Ville’s Foursquare statistics.
Have a look for yourself, see how easy it is to show your customers you care. Think About It!