Customers should be rewarded earlier and more often in the relationship they establish with vendors.
This is true of any type of customer and any type of business. Keurig does a nice job of providing members with 10% off purchases. That’s not a ton of money when you’re buying coffee, but it’s something. More importantly, it’s an instantaneous and ongoing reward for being a member. On the flip side, Aeroplan is such a ridiculous program that you never feel like you’ll get anything (on top of which the experience with most airlines is painful.)
Discounts are an obvious way of rewarding customers, but there are other creative ways too. Everyone likes receiving presents. Hand-written thank you notes work too. Surprise ’em and they’ll pay you.
If you build a reward program into your strategy, make the early rewards achievable and addictive. This is where a bit of smart gamification comes in handy. Some companies reward loyalty (or try to), but very few reward customers earlier on, after one or two purchases, before loyalty is proven. And I think that’s a mistake.
The reward sign picture is courtesy of Shutterstock.