My friend Tom Corr co-owns the Soup Nutsy here in Toronto. More spots opening around town, great soups, good prices, and a very simply loyalty program: Get a card, get stamps, get a free soup after you get a bunch of stamps. Simple.
My office partners and I will head over for soup during the week. We collect the stamps on one card and get a free soup between the three of us. Eventually, it all works out, etc. Good soup and we typically bypass other soup places for the quality. And the free soup.
Compare this to a place called Cora’s, a really nice breakfast/lunch restaurant which stores all over Canada. The women who started the company has a great story you might be interested in reading here. But, I digress.
I’m in the Cora’s Newmarket, Ontario location and I witness an amazing event at the cash register. There’s a customer with a couple of friends up front. They are done with lunch and this women is paying. She has the Cora’s loyalty stamp card ready to get three stamps. Nope. Cora’s has rules. One stamp per meal, per customer, per visit. This women is not happy. She says, rightfully so, WTF! You’ve modeled this to give away a free meal after so many purchases, who cares if it is 3 on one card or 1 on each of three cards, etc. She is clearly angry, her friends are rolling their eyes, and the other people in line are watching all of this.
Of course, Cora’s has a sign saying all of this no no no stuff right there by the register so the person taking the money points to it and shrugs. Yep, points and shrugs as the response.
Here’s the really important part for you: The women and her friends left the place a) without speaking to a manager, b) pissed and c) tossing the loyalty card in the garbage outside the place. All of this in front of other customers. All of this over a free sandwich.
I point out the manager thing because this has or will happen to you, kind start-up person. Something isn’t going to go right for a customer. The reality is most people get angry quietly and you won’t get a chance to fix it.
Lesson/Challenge: What are you doing to empower your people to try and prevent angry people from leaving your web site, store, etc. Is complaining friction free? Do they “point and shrug” or feel empowered?
Cora’s dumb policy forgets the breakage rules, didn’t factor in the math, and has enough friction in it to devalue the program.
Lesson/Challenge: What’s are you doing, in the age of one click they’re gone, to make loyalty as friction free as possible.
Cora’s: Good Food with dumb policies.