Your quick guide to starting an F&B loyalty program

Last week I had this major craving for açaí smoothie bowls that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately it happened during the peak of the evening rush hour and to get to my favorite juice bar, I would need to make a detour from my usual path home and crawl for an additional half hour in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam.

Guess what? I did just that. And I’m one among millions of others who would go out of our way just to get that kind of craving fixed — rain or shine.

But what did that health food joint have that others didn’t? Well, apart from serving açaí bowls that were genuinely tastier, I admit that I may just be slightly obsessed about collecting as many loyalty points as I can in order to redeem the cute tote bag they have on display.

What I’m really trying to say is, a member program like that is simple — but effective.

A 2016 study revealed that 76.82% of women and 73.84% of men are likely to shop with a brand that has a loyalty program.

But according to a survey conducted by the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) commissioned by SAS, only 16% of businesses believe they have a highly effective loyalty program.

I feel that loyalty programs are a win-win for both the customer and business owner. Once done right, you’ll be able to gather a large pool of loyal customers that will continue to patronize your business because they constantly feel valued.

And one of the many ways to make them feel valued includes rewarding them for engaging and purchasing from your business. This way, you’re incentivizing them to continue to buy from you, beyond the value of your products and services.

It begins with adopting a member program. Can’t reward loyal customers if you don’t know who’s loyal and who isn’t, right? Equip yourself with a member program that utilizes a digital dashboard that is able to collect all the data of your registered members, and produce reports of their activities such as transactions, redemptions, and more. Check out how you can take advantage of these ingenious features.

But if you’ve no idea where or how to begin with a member program, here’s a few tips to get you started.


OFFER SOMETHING ENTICING TO ENCOURAGE SIGN-UPS

Have you ever walked through a mall and got approached by a salesman from a bank trying to get you to apply for the latest credit card? They’re probably aware that the rates of credit card ownership are rising globally, and that they’ve got to find different ways to attract more sign-ups. And what’s a better way than to offer enticing gifts? Lux-looking luggage bags, fancy stainless steel water tumbler, budget action cameras… the list is endless.

It works the same for a restaurant member program; patrons often reject the offer to register as a member for a variety of reasons —  from being a part of too many membership programs to being worried about the registration process taking too long.

But we, humans are drawn to the word ‘free’, and offering freebies as part of the registration can change the game entirely. It could be as simple as welcome points, free coffee and dessert on their next visit, or just a small gift card. Try this to get your program going and see how things shift for the better.


SUSTAINABILITY IS KEY

But of course, some of us go through the common problem of offering new members too much rewards. We know for sure that it will entice them. But question is, would that be sustainable in the long run? Will these mere rewards become the cause of the downfall of your business in the future?

While the goal is to strive towards attracting new patrons and at the same time encouraging the existing ones to keep coming back, it’s also important to take careful steps of preventing your business from going broke in the future. You would also want to avoid offering enticing gifts only to withdraw them in the future because this could be a major dealbreaker for your patron.


KEEP IT SIMPLE

Take it from Leonardo da Vinci — “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. A complicated member program drives people away. Never-ending T&C pages, points with short expiry dates, and rewards that require exorbitantly high points to redeem.

A study reported that some of the common causes of customer frustration with the redemption process includes expired points (43%), not enough points to redeem (39%), and the reward item not being available (37%).

Go back to basics and offer member programs that your patrons would find easy to use. Offer something straightforward such as physical stamp cards or a simplified points system which allows members to earn and easily redeem their rewards.


MAKE IT FUN

Simple doesn’t have to mean boring. A study reported that 75% of consumers say that loyalty programs are part of their relationship with brands.

Don’t forget that one the main purpose of a member program is to build that relationship with your members by engaging with them, which eventually develops into loyalty over time.

So, try spicing up your loyalty program by introducing contests and games which gives your members the opportunity to earn more points and rewards. Incorporate one that isn’t too complicated and doesn’t take too long to play. It should also be versatile enough to be applied in the platform you are operating from — online store, brick-and-mortar, or both.

In my opinion, one of the easiest to understand, straight-forward and loved by all is the spin-the-wheel game. Customize your own rewards and encourage your patrons to give it a quick spin to win points or rewards. 


Of course there are plenty of other ways you could reward your customers, but it all starts with equipping yourself with a solid member program that could support all of those great ideas that are already running through your mind.

I’m ready to kick-start my own member program, can someone help me out?

Denissa Goh is a Public Relations and Content Manager for Eber, based in Kuala Lumpur. The former journalist and flight attendant is an ESFJ personality type who has a keen eye for luxury fashion and enjoys intelligent conversations. Apart from being a gym rat who often counts her daily calorie intake, she cannot resist great coffee and whisky. Besides being an article churning machine, she also functions as that annoying office colleague who types really loudly on her keyboard because of her long acrylic fingernails. You can reach Denissa at denissa@eber.co.

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