Loyal customers love public appreciation

Regular readers of this blog will have seen my article relating to Leeds Rhinos Rugby Club (dated 08.06.16). In that article I talked about a customer service 'gaffe' committed by them, where they emailed their most loyal supporters offering a once-only 50 pence discount off the price of a match programme as a "special thanks" for their loyalty. 

Many of these supporters, like myself, spend hundreds of pounds each year on our season tickets and travelling to away games, so the 50 pence discount felt a bit like an insult, and the discount generated much negative PR coverage on social media.

However, in today's blog article, I can report a great customer service success from the Rhinos.

The Club has got about 10,000 members, who consist of several levels of membership. 'Bronze' members get discounts off match tickets and some other benefits. 'Silver' members get all the extra benefits, plus a season ticket to attend all home games. And 'Gold' members get a season ticket, plus many extra benefits, such as entry to an annual party attended by the players.

But the one thing that ALL the members love is the feeling of belonging to the Club and the recognition of being a part of the community of members. With this in mind, the Club has come up with an innovative way to publicly recognise all of its members. 

The Club has erected huge advertising boards around the ground (see photo at top) that list the names of every member. Their own names are interspersed with the names of all the first team players, so that fans can see their names listed next to their heroes, as shown in the close-up photo below.

In addition to the advertising boards, at a recent home game, free 'clapperboards' were handed out to young fans, and these also contained the names of every single member of the Club.

Apart from the cost of printing, this piece of customer appreciation has cost the Club nothing, and is therefore a very cost-effective way of giving the most loyal fans some appreciation and recognition of their support.

How can you apply this to your business?

The well-known marketing experts Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have written a great deal on the subject of turning your customers into 'fans'. Even if you don't run a B2C company, there are still ample opportunities to give appreciation and recognition to your loyal customers and to build a long-term relationship with them. Don't think of your customers as just people who give you their money in exchange for your goods and services. Think of ways you can turn them into supporters and advocates of your organisation. Not only will they become your customers for life; they will also generate far more additional business for you through their own networks and associates.

Blanchard K. and Johnson S., 1993, Raving Fans! A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, Harper Collins Publishers.