I read an article once that said “loyalty is the holy grail of fundraising”. In actuality, it’s the holy grail of marketing, not just fundraising. After all, it’s easier to “sell” to an existing customer than a new customer. This is why so many marketers focus on retention and lifetime value.
In the non-profit world, there are many ways to retain a donor that range from strategies to get a second gift to stewardship programs. The purpose of a stewardship program is to thank the donor for supporting the organization, letting him/her know the organization recognizes and values the gift. The idea is to keep the donor engaged and make him/her feel special and feel good about supporting the cause.
Often times you’ll see for-profit companies try to do similar stewardship through the “donor loyalty” programs. The difference is, these loyalty programs don’t make the customer feel special or thanked for doing business with the company. Instead, the customer has to jump throw hoops in order to receive the privileges. Airlines force consumer to travel many miles with them before giving them the option for a free upgrade or ticket, access to their private waiting areas, or even priority boarding. Many chain restaurants require that the customer eat there X amount of times (with proof) before giving them a free meal or sandwich.
The problem with these loyalty programs is that they don’t make the customer feel special. Instead, they continue to remind the customer that their relationship is transactional. The company doesn’t appreciate the customer; instead they want more of their business – or should I say – more of their money. There is no “good vibe” that the customer gets from this. Only the feeling that with another purchase something fee will come.
This is where Chick-Fil-A differs. It’s fairly common to hear that Chick-Fil-A is giving away free coffee, chicken biscuits or whatnots to anyone who just happens to go there that day.
Today, I didn’t bring my lunch so I went downstairs to the food court and went to Chick-Fil-A. As I was paying for my meal, the cashier gave me a Valentine’s card with a coupon for free chicken-minis. There was no reason for this gift other than to thank me for my patronage.
And each time this has happened to me, I walk away with a huge smile on my face. Why? Because these are unexpected gifts. They don’t have to give me a gift card. I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t get one because I wasn’t expecting one. I wasn’t trained to spend a certain amount of dollars on them to get a thank you. All I did was show up and order. So my gift wasn’t transactional, it was meaningful.
And for that reason, it makes me happy that I went there. And in the future I will think of going there before any other fast food restaurant. Not because I’m expecting a freebie but because they appreciate my business – regardless of how many chicken nuggets I’ve bought in the past.