Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where’s my free shot of Tequila?

As faithful Loyalty Redefined readers know, my recreational drink of choice is beer. But every once in a while, my wife and I will entertain friends over a pitcher of Margaritas on the rocks. (Salt, please.)

Many years ago a friend who knows about these things told me the best tequila for the money was Sauza Gold. Looks and tastes just like Jose Cuervo Gold—my friend says better—for a couple of bucks cheaper.

So a few weeks ago, with my supply of Sauza Gold running low, I picked up a bottle at my friendly neighborhood liquor store. Hanging from the bottle’s neck was a promo tag pitching a $2.50 refund if I filled out the form and mailed in my receipt.

Now for me, a $2.50 rebate is right at the threshold of “is this really worth my time and a 40 cent stamp?”, but I eventually mailed it in. I figured the $2.50 minus postage was the equivalent of a healthy tequila shot—so why not take Sauza up on their generous offer of a free drink?

Only I didn’t get a rebate check. Just a postcard letting me know I wouldn’t be getting a rebate because I used a PO Box as my home address—which I have to do, as my quaint little town has no home mail delivery.

The postcard listed a rewards Web site where I could check on my refund, but after entering my name and address into an online form, I got a message back saying they couldn’t identify me. I looked for another way to contact them—but there was none.

Next stop: the Sauza Web site, where there are some nice drink recipes—but again, no link or mention of how to contact anyone at the company. Unless I want to “friend” Sauza at Facebook, which is an additional step I didn’t want to take.

So here lies my conundrum: My relationship with Sauza has always been a simple one. I give them $20 and change, they give me a quality bottle of tequila in return. I would have been happy continuing this relationship for years to come.

Only, they just blew it. Through a promotional campaign that obviously had some bugs in the execution, they found a way to offer me bad customer service—when customer service didn’t even have to be part of the equation.

Suaza: as far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t have run this promo in the first place, because the bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold sitting next to you on the shelf suddenly got more appealing. But there’s still time for you to make amends.

Like all good companies these days, you should have an ear to the social networking ground listening for chatter about your brand. Sauza, are you listening?

This post is by Tom Rapsas and originally appeared on the blog Loyalty Truth, September 24, 2010. You can reach Tom at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Discover Says They’re #1 in Loyalty. Does Anyone Care?

I saw a TV commercial for the Discover credit card the other day and they made a claim that caught my eye. It was one of those “we’re #1” declarations, in this case: We’re “#1 in customer loyalty”.

The claim was not explained during the commercial and it got me wondering: to a consumer, what does being #1 in customer loyalty really mean? Is there a benefit, implied or otherwise?

Now I’ve worked in loyalty marketing for several years, and don’t think of myself as jaded—but my initial reaction to the claim was, “who cares?” It actually got me wondering if Discover was #1 in loyalty because they had retained a lot of long-time cardholders with monstrous balances who couldn’t switch cards during these tight financial times.

So I did a little research on the Discover corporate Web site and found some substance behind the #1 claim. There it said that: “Discover Card ranked #1 in customer loyalty among leading credit card brands according to the 2010 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index Report.”

Okay, as a loyalty insider I know a little about Brand Keys. But what does this mean to a consumer? I did a little more digging on the Brand Keys site and read they measured loyalty over several categories with a “combination of proprietary psychological assessments and higher-level statistical analyses, allowing us to statistically fuse the “emotional” values with the “rational” attributes that identify the bond that exists between brand and consumer.”

Hmmm, I was still scratching my head. It didn’t appear to be anything that could remotely be translated into consumer-friendly language. Which got me questioning why the claim was made in the first place.

Customer loyalty is an end result, a desired outcome of the great product and service you offer. So rather than tell me your customers are loyal, tell me why they’re loyal—amazing customer service, lower fees, a unique add-on benefit—and how this will benefit me.

Sure, being #1 in customer loyalty sounds nice, and we do know that Discover puts a happy face on lots of consumers, but these days most people don’t want to hear corporate chest bumping—they want a brand that delivers tangible benefits, with each and every transaction.

This blog post originally appeared on Loyalty Truth, Setember 08, 2010, via creative director/writer Tom Rapsas.