I was reading Seth Godin’s blog and he made an interesting comment about Customer of the Month programs. In his post, Seth advocates a customer of the month program if you’re not currently doing one.
I don’t agree. There’s only one place I know of that has a customer of the month program — Peet’s Coffee (and actually it’s the customer of the week). As a Peet’s regular for years, I have yet to become the customer of the week. Granted, I don’t sit there and drink my latte and eat my scone everyday while reading the paper, but I buy a pound of coffee once a week as I’ve done for the past 16 years.
So I’m feeling a little more like the jilted lover than the special customer – something Seth raised in his post. Am I alienated as he suggests? No. Will I stop buying Peet’s coffee because I haven’t been the customer of the week? No. Do I get a little tweaked every time I walk in and see the customer of the week’s picture sitting there on its pedestal, smirking as they’re enjoying their free lattes everyday for a week? You betcha.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
The real question is does anyone really care about such programs? Probably not.
I’m sure Peet’s instituted the program when they were a single store in Berkeley as a means to connect to their neighborhood. Not a bad idea. But I think there are better ways to connect to your neighborhood such as customer appreciation days, friends and family events and the like.
If you’re going to create a Customer of the Week/Month program, take five minutes to determine the parameters for the program. Is it because they spend the most, shop the most, or are the most pleasant customer? Whatever the reason, make sure you’re clear in case someone asks. Peet’s actually posts their Customer of the Week philosophy next to the picture of the customer of the week. It’s ambiguous — something like “they embody the Peet’s spirit.” Whatever that means. It’s no doubt subjective and that’s why I get tweaked every time I see it.
So, tread lightly when creating such programs. You’re much better off focusing on loyalty programs and other tools to recognize and reward each and every one of your customers versus singling out one customer each week or month.