“Can’t fool me twice”

When I was 15, Jake Taylor sent me a Valentine’s card and bought me a single red rose. I felt so special – for about half an hour. Then word reached me that he’d also given Catherine Brady the same thing – the cheek of it! Unsurprisingly, Jake and I didn’t get married and run off into the sunset (well, not together, anyway), in fact, he’s not even one of my 453 Facebook friends – take that Jake!

Unfortunately, a similar thing happened to me in last week in Waitrose (“Quality you’d expect, at prices you wouldn’t”: very promising). The charming shop assistant, Mike, smiled and handed me a card to fill in and join his club. Utterly flattering… except I’d watched him make the same offer to the two women in front of me! Well, as they say, Fool me twice, shame on me – no loyalty card for me, thank you very much! Come on Waitrose: how hard is it to make me feel special? After all, Starbucks manage it:

“And I would walk 500 miles…!”

Our London office is based in Holborn Circus and, like most London-workers, we’re lucky enough to be spoilt for choice when it comes to purchasing our Grande Soya latte! There’s Pret downstairs (confusing queue system), Café Nero and Costa down the road (rude and slow, respectively) and there’s a (so I’m told) wonderful place down Leather Lane: The Department for Coffee and Social Affairs, which I’m too scared to go in. (I used to work in a bank, so I risk becoming coffee bean target practice.) Then, if you go an extra 300m down the road, you’ll find the (now considerably-tainted) green and white Starbucks’ halo, and this is where my feet, nose and importantly, emotions take me.

A while ago, Starbucks introduced the practice of asking for your name and writing it on the coffee cup. Much uproar and jibes of, “I’m not dating the barista!” emerged in the coffee world. I love it. Civilised human contact is so welcome. After the daily full-suited wrestling match at Oxford Circus interchange, followed by a sweaty scrum on the Central line, when the Barista in Starbucks says my name I probably would date him (or even her)!

It seems Starbucks and their personalised disposable coffee cup are what it takes to validate my existence in the morning – so, in the words of The Proclaimers, I would walk 500 miles… well, at least the additional 300m.

“I’ll be there for you”

My 12-month, SIM-only contract with Vodafone has run its course. I’m now classified as a “sleeping customer” drifting along on a month-by-month basis, able to terminate at any moment. But I’m not about to. I feel like Vodafone and I are in an evolving relationship. They’ve started texting me everyday! And this isn’t some inane “thinking of you,” text either: they’re really trying. It seems, wherever I go, they follow and send me a personalised offer, for a product I’m interested in, for a shop that’s just around the corner. When it’s hot, they know I’ll want a refreshing drink, when I’m wondering what to do on a Friday night, it’s cinema offers!

Last weekend I tried to trick them (perhaps I was feeling things were moving a little fast). I drove 200 miles back to my family in York. But, lo and behold, I woke up on Saturday and there they were, determined to make a good impression on me with an offer for an underwear sale on York high street!

Vodafone: You did not have me at “hello” (my phone was locked to your network) but with the effort you’ve shown the last few months, you might want to think about what you’re going to do for my forthcoming birthday!

So, in my opinion, you can’t buy Loyalty. Instead, I think perhaps Cher was a true customer engagement champion, when she said, “It’s in his KISS.” It’s the age-old acronym: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It’s about personalisation, but doing this as a standalone digital offering isn’t sufficient; it needs to be reflected throughout the entire culture of a business so that any interaction will be personal and reflect the concern of the company for the individual customer. It’s also about constant improvement and putting in that effort for the customer. You can’t just implement a CRM system or Loyalty scheme and sit back. If companies don’t evolve and get to know customers then these offerings are potentially serious turn-offs. For example, so called “Bespoke Offers” has just received my unsubscription request after sending me an email with a massive picture of Beef and Pork joints: I’m vegetarian!

In summary, don’t do a “Jake Taylor;” do Say my Name, stalk me (!) and I’ll be There for You.