Customer Loyalty Programs

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Marketing

By Jenny Brooks

Another topic I’m seeing a lot of these days: Customer Loyalty Programs. Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters is actually covering this topic with an expert on customer loyalty programs for his member mastermind call in November. And it’s been in the news a few times, specifically an announcement from Starbucks.

Starbucks announced changes to its customer loyalty program that ake it much more customer friendly. With its new program, customers actually have a chance to earn rewards and don’t have to pay to get them. And the new program at Starbucks does what every restaurant’s loyalty program should do: provide an incentive to continue to frequent your establishment and then reward them for doing it. Now that $5 latte doesn’t seem so expensive when I know I’m going to get a free one sometime down the road and rewards for other Starbucks brand purchases in stores.

What other things, you ask? Things that don’t really cost Starbucks much to give away to loyal members:

1. Up to two hours of free wi-fi per day

2. Free shots of syrup or soy upgrades

3. A free drink with a purchase of coffee beans for home

4. Free coffee refills

These are great added-value perks with little cost to Starbucks. And it encourages that sense of loyalty, obligation and community.

This is just one example of a loyalty program and one I think that will work much better for Starbucks. I think their former loyalty program was a bit elitist, but they figured out they can’t just go after the elite. We all have $5 in our pocket and if we’re going to drop it on a latte, we like to know we’re earning out way toward some kind of reward for choosing that location. This is true in any establishment – including independent restaurants.

My recommendation? Just don’t make the reward so hard to attain that your customers decide it’s not even worth trying for.

How’s your customer loyalty program? If the answer is, “not so good,” then let us know. A coach from is more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic methods for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her or visit her Web site at

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