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How to build a customer loyalty program

Jen A. Miller | March 26, 2014
Boston-based restaurant chain b.good started its customer loyalty program with email 12 years ago because, well, it couldn't afford much else. As the chain has grown, so has its rewards program, which now has 53,000 'Family' members using keycards and smartphone apps to connect with b.good.

Wardley says maintaining contact on multiple platforms makes sense. "We might think that everybody's on a smartphone, and that's not true," she says. "Look at the keycard. You've got your keys in your car with you. But when I ride my bike, I have my phone."

Staying active in email, keycard and smartphone apps, as b.good does, is "reinforcing cross-channel connections," she adds. "A customer will move among those channels, considering the convenience of that particular moment."

Customer Loyalty System Getting Results or b.good

Olinto says the system has been a resounding success. Between app and keycard users, b.good has 53,000 family members.

Beyond the numbers, Olinto says the customer loyalty program is about creating "stickiness" and making it easier for people to participate. "We don't care if you pay with your phone," he says. "We just want you to use the system. We want you using it every time you come in."

Customers participate beyond simply using the app at point of sale, too. "The amount of feedback through the app is incredible," he says, with many customers getting in touch while still in the restaurant. Olinto says b.good receives a message every 20 to 30 minutes from people checking in from different locations and sharing their experience.

Wardley says b.good's strategy helps customers become associated with the brand - one that supports healthy food and local farmers - by extending the customer experience beyond the store.

"In a market where there's choice, you're probably going to make a choice on a complex mix of variables that include quality of food, whether or not you feel this brand has good morals, integrity" and respect, she says. "There's loyalty in wanting to be associated with b.good's principles. In a market where there's choice, they are differentiating themselves."


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