I was on a large financial company's website the other day and I saw they were offering coalition loyalty points as incentives to their channel partners. Nevermind the dubious nature of the value of these points to a partner (a rant for another day), what it really got me thinking about was how often customer loyalty just means points.
Now there are plenty of ways to define customer loyalty. You can talk about people's attitude towards a brand or company that makes them feel like they can relate to it or you focus on repetitive and frequent purchase behaviours. You can look at referrals and advocacy. You can even, as several academics have used up a lot trees doing, define loyalty as 'a multidimensional set of attitudes and behaviours'.
You don't see too much about points.
So why are businesses so quick to launch a points program and call it customer loyalty? I mean if you are going to buy it, are you really getting loyalty?
It seems to me it has become easier to create (or buy) a points program than to really figure out what best customers love and why switchers switch. What if marketing just spent some time to know why and acted on it?
Would they still be flogging points?
Photo by Chris Krylov. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License