The other day I visited Westside at Kala Ghoda. As always, the guy at the cash counter asked, "Do you have a Club West card?"
But then, he said,"Sorry ma'am, it's expired".
The loyalty card has expired although the customer is standing in your shop - hence obviously loyal.
No communication was sent by the company about this sad demise. Although mailers regarding the annual sale continue to arrive at my doorstep.
What's more, three months ago the Westside in Andheri actually added points to my card (the one which expired 2 years ago). Like one of those pensions being credited to dead men's accounts.
If I had cared to kick up a fuss with the manager he would have renewed the card and given me the 160 points on it, I'm sure.
That's not the issue.
For long years I've heard phrases like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and it's apparently driven by sophisticated software. Yet in most companies there seems to be no relationship with me, no linking of various activities or databases.
Here is another case in point. At the local Food Bazar, I am offered a Future Group & ICICI credit card. I say 'no thanks', I already have enough credit cards.
But they persist and dangle two baits:
- A bunch of coupons and discounts @ Future group outlets
- The fact that I am an ICICI Bank account holder, and hence will get the card after 'just two phone calls'.
Several calls and two unannounced visits from a verification agency there is no sign of the card. Which is ok because I don't need it. But here is what I want to know:
If I have an account with you, you know my credit history, bank balance, PAN card no. You have verified me in the first place! So why this endless farce?
The irony is that ICICI Bank called the other day and offered me a pre-approved Titanium card. So one department in the bank thinks I am a premium customer, the other thinks it needs to 'inspect the goods' more thoroughly.
I know much of this verification process is handled by outside agencies. But that does not absolve the bank! Someone somewhere needs to create a robust system so that information is shared efficiently.
And all you marketers who conceive of loyalty programs please note: Loyalty with an expiry date is an oxymoron!