Loyalty Programs – For Clients and Lawyers

A recent article confirms that customer loyalty programs that reward customers for frequent purchases are more popular than ever. The article reports that today, consumers 3.8 billion memberships in customer loyalty programs, up from 3.3 billion just three years ago.

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The most popular sector for loyalty programs is retail, which includes fast food, with 1.6 billion reward program memberships. Travel and hospitality are also popular, making up 1.1 billion memberships. Credit-card companies also compete for customers’ loyalty, one-upping one another in rewards and sign-up bonuses to keep people spending. In a best case scenario, loyalty programs can generate a whopping 335 percent return on investment  – not bad for creating a couple of cards and offering a giveaway for every 10 or 15 purchases made of X dollars spent.

Retailers like fast food chains fare best with loyalty programs, as do airlines and credit card companies.  Health-related loyalty programs have “struggled” though – apparently cash incentives aren’t enough to lure people to the gym.

That said, is there a place for a loyalty program in a law firm’s marketing portfolio? On the one hand, most firms don’t necessarily want to encourage repeat business particularly from criminal defense, bankruptcy or family law clients. On the other hand, a program structured to encourage clients to refer cases or offering a discount for a certain amount of money spent might have more success – though it would inevitably have to contend with archaic ethics rules that prohibit giving something of value – e.g., a reward – in exchange for service.

Loyalty programs have more promise when used by law firms rather than offered by them. Many credit card companies offer points for each dollar purchased which can help fund a vacation, Broadway show or some other luxury that doesn’t ordinarily fit your budget.  Likewise, businesses that law firms frequent – from office supplies stores like Staples to Starbucks or other coffee shops – may provide rewards that you can pass on as small gifts to staff if you’re not interested in them yourself.

What are some of your favorite loyalty programs? Share your response in the comments below.


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