Back to my Panera experiences (I could probably write that book!). About a year ago they started a rewards program. I am, personally as Kathy consumer, a fan of these in general. I KNOW they are looking to build loyalty and frequency and I KNOW the establishment in question is possibly not the lowest price, but it does work (ask my husband who dares to buy a health product from Publix and not CVS)…but I love love the offerings I do get and I tell myself I am winning!
Anyway, back to Panera, they made a point of telling me that this was not related to what you spend; or even frequency, they implied it was a random thank you/recognition. I bought that, why not, didn’t cost me anything! The associate cheerily hands you the receipt and says: you have a FREE THIS OR THAT with your next purchase. I glow, I think ‘cha ching’ ..jackpot, even!
While I do track my outgoings withy Panera, I am also keeping an eye the number of times they say “thank you” to me by giving me free stuff! Some months I regularly enjoyed a free bagel, pastry, and savings on a lunch, $1.00 off a drink…then some months go by and – NOTHING! My frequency generally doesn’t change too often because of the availability of restaurants within say a 15 mile radius – so I am expecting them to be as consistent as I am. Are they tightening their belts this month so I get nothing, have they forgotten my loyalty or am I not spending enough?
I know, this could be construed as almost sad! But what have I done to them???
Now, something new has started
I go into Panera, place my order, the associate rings me up and says: YOU HAVE NO REWARDS POINT TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, I am shouting. Yes I am annoyed and yes I cannot believe they would do this! I know that! You haven’t said I DO so I know I have nothing. I begin to expect that you don’t value my custom, I begin to expect the rules (for me) are changing and that this is really not a rewards program at all.
Come on guys….we NEVER go negative. We never start a sentence with ‘no’ and we never tell a customer, who has spent money with me, that it really had no value to me whatsoever.
They should say “NOTHING AND THANK ME FOR MY BUSINESS WITH A HUGE SMILE” …
You know I am going to keep going back because Panera is woven into my routine and it is easy/consistent but I am going to seek out some other local restaurants I can support (as I do try to do) and who will appreciate my custom without bribing me.