Do tough customers make the best advocates?

Consumers in the 21st century have become both increasingly loyal but also far more fickle. And with the average customer owning anywhere between three and fifteen rewards cards, are our customers our biggest supporters, or are they in fact our biggest critics?

Do tough customers make the best advocates

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Show me the reward card

There was a time when a loyalty card was only given to a company’s most frequent customers. Nowadays every establishment you visit offers you some kind of reward card. Whether it’s buy 9 get your 10th free, or money off your next purchase, they all do it. It’s no longer a recognition of a consumer being your biggest supporter or most frequent customer, it has become a gimmick.

It’s not just the influx of reward cards that are damaging the once successful loyalty scheme. It could also be partly attributed to the downfall of the high street and increase in online shoppers, or to the fact that with many different options globally via the internet, shoppers don’t see the point in loyalty any more, as they will just keep searching until they find the best deal.

Lots of companies have begun to use membership management systems to track their customers and the services they use. Yet even the offer of a discount or free gift is no longer a surefire way to ensure that these customers champion your services and in essence provide you with free word of mouth advertising.

Rewards unused

The increase in loyalty card offerings has led to many people not bothering to collect the rewards, and some even forgetting they have them all together. The Telegraph even reported last year that there is a possible £6 billion worth of rewards going unused.

There are lots of companies out there who offer tailored systems, with integrated profiling of customers, such as As well as offering these systems, they also profile companies to help them achieve their maximum potential and improve their membership subscriptions.

Are these systems going to be enough to provide a boost to the shopping industry, and in turn bring back to life the loyalty rewards system? Who knows. But one thing’s for certain, if you provide a good service and offer great value for money, customers will always be your biggest advocate. Loyalty card or not.

The author is an expert on occupational training and a prolific writer who writes extensively on Business, technology, and education. He can be contacted for professional advice in matters related with occupation and training on his blog Communal Business and Your Business Magazine.