I posted a few days ago about social justice research among primates. Jack added this provocative comment to the post:
"A thought at a customer level: Should an offer to renew a service be equitable with the offers being made to new customers? How many times do you see an offer that is available only to new subscribers?"
I have to agree. This is so one sided, it hurts. Instead of being repaid, our loyalty gets taken for granted. While these kinds of incentives are totally understandable from the company side, and they work, existing customers often do feel hurt by the lack of parity. New customers get a cool widget of some kind, and current customers get a piece of cake on customer day. Makes us feel like we would switch ourselves, if it wasn't so darn much work!
It's a sticky problem, because we know that an incentive to try out a new organization is often important to overcome the inherent change/risk avoidance of most people. How do you do that and still make current customers feel valued?
One thing I've seen is programs based on volume of business. A good example is Staples/Business Depot, which sends out coupons every quarter for bonuses and discounts based on how much business you did with them.
Some credit cards have preferred-access packages available to customers. I'm taking in the film festival later this year because VISA cardholders can buy a three-film package where festival staff pick the films for you at times you specify. Kind of a concierge approach that is really nice. It's available to all VISA customers.
Special events for customers can be a nice way to show you aren't taking them for granted. I went to a retirement seminar sponsored by my investment company some months ago. This kind of thing works great to attract new prospects, but it was offered to me as an existing customer, which I really appreciated. I know of another company that is hosting a concert series for loyal customers later this year. My lawyer sends me ball tickets every now and again, which make me feel very special, since I know I'm a very small account for him.
Pricing is an area where loyal customers are often punished for not shopping around. While we understand the mechanics of this, this too feels really unfair.
The thing is, you know what your loyal customers do for you -- you can measure it. Your costs of acquisition are long gone. You can afford to invest a little. Don't take them for granted -- do something special for them, too.