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Reward programs; what not to do?

I am amazed at how almost every business these days is jumping on the bandwagon and issuing loyalty cards.

I happened to go to a fine restaurant called Fire and Ice few months back with a client. The nice server recognizing me as a regular visitor offered to enroll me in their VIP Corporate Card which would entitle me for 15% discount only for $10 per year. Being an accountant I recognized the value and immediately signed up.

Yesterday, I had a client and we were trying to decide where to go for lunch. And after discussing few options settled on Fire and Ice; because it is very close to my office, has nice staff, offers healthy choices, vegetarian meals (we both are vegetarians), fresh ingredients which you can pick and they cook for you.

Just after we settled down in our seats and placed our order I flashed my VIP Corporate card; server smiling goes inside to check and few minutes later came with harsh announcement that the card is not valid for the meals we ordered. Seems like there is fine print which says card is not valid for special of the day which we ordered unknowingly.

For few minutes I was upset but later thought; is there any learning in this behavior. Basically, in this process the Restaurant lost me as a loyal customer and therefore lost the value of loyalty program. In addition to a small discount, I was looking for that exclusivity, a genuine respect by holding the membership card. By honoring the loyalty card the business had a chance to satisfy my ego but missed that opportunity.

Think through your loyalty programs/ reward cards very carefully and look for the opportunity to out serve. The worst thing a business can do is to hide under the fine print and make excuses. Always remember; give more than you receive. That is the value add. See my article; How to get more customers than you can handle


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Mr. Sharma is a management accountant with over 33 years of experience in small business. He has been engaged in independent accounting practice since 2003. With MBA degree in IT Management and CPA, CMA designation he believes in creating value for the clients. Mr. Sharma has been actively involved in imports, exports, retail, construction and IT consulting. He has written articles in the “Canadian Immigrant” magazine on taxation and accounting for small business. He has served as director on the boards of York Regional Community Foundation, Community Living of York South and Surrey Foundation. He is a member of CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers), Rotary Club of Richmond Hill, Markham Board of Trade and Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce.

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