The Disloyalty Card

Let's take a break from technology for a second; please indulge me. (That's for you Erick.)

A few months back, James Hoffmann reported that Gwilym Davies, the 2009 World Barista Champion, had implemented a rather unique idea for his cafe: the disloyalty card.

His card lists eight nearby cafes in London that the cardholder must visit and try a coffee. After sampling all eight and collecting the required stamps, Gwilym provides a free coffee from his shop. His idea sends customers to his competitors.

disloyalty-card.jpg

What does this say about Gwilym? First, it tells me he's confident in his abilities to make a mean cup of java. Second, it tells me he's truly passionate about his his trade. But was this a sound business endeavor?

Obviously the risk is that one of his loyal customers might just find a better product at a competitor and not return. But the goal isn't really to strengthen his customer base -- its to strengthen the market, which will in turn provide more customers over the long run.

This idea seems great for frequently purchased products like restaurants, bars, bakeries, music, and of course, cafes. Its probably not a good idea for high priced merchandise or infrequently purchased items like shoes, electronics, and housewares.

Nevertheless, its a great example of thinking in reverse. Try this: Instead of telling your staff how you want customers treated, list out the ways you don't want customers treated. Why should you limit people's imagination and freedom to engage customers? Instead, give them guidelines to avoid the bad behavior, and leave them open to be creative with the positive behavior.

Instead of asking the question, "how can we get more people in our stores?" try asking the inverse: "why aren't people visiting our stores?" Innovation doesn't only come from asking "why?" Often it comes from asking "why not?" (Wow, I just went Jack Handey on you.)

Comments:

What a fantastic lateral thinking idea, I absolutely love it.
I would be very interested to hear how it went???
And will watch intently for Gwylim's next idea.
We all need to know how our customers rate us against our competition.

Posted by Gerry Lawler on April 12, 2010 at 02:04 AM CDT #

Brilliant.

Posted by Roger on April 12, 2010 at 01:41 PM CDT #

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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