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Be Careful What Customer Behaviors You Reward

What are the things we do that drive certain behaviors among our most strategic accounts? Are we really getting them to do what we want? Or, do we actually lead them down a path we really don’t want?

Big issue: Have we led them to expect discounts?

Case in point: I believe all pizza is good pizza (well, except for that frozen pizza I had in Tulum, Mexico, on Thanksgiving Day a couple years back, but I digress…).  So, it’s not surprising that I’m a bit of a regular at my neighborhood California Pizza Kitchen. They’re in the midst of a promotion where they’re giving thank you cards to their loyal customers. Inside the thank you card is a prize – and while you could win a trip to Cancun or $50,000, the most common prize is 10% off your next meal. The 10% isn’t enough to get me to eat there more frequently, but I will cash in the discount coupon when I go – which means I’ll pay less for a meal I would have had there anyway. Is this what they want? Is this building customer loyalty?

I’ve seen Strategic Account Managers try similar tricks – especially when they’re coming up on the end of their quarter: “If we book your order this week, I can give you 5% off or throw in 6 months of free service.” Now, why wouldn’t this customer start holding his orders until the end of every quarter? Is this a viable customer relationship strategy?

Strategic Account Managers really should be more, well, strategic. Effective account planning for strategic accounts should be focused on achieving desired customer behaviors – and then all tactics and activities become aligned to those outcomes.  Of course, Strategic Account Manager incentives need to be aligned with this approach too. Otherwise, they’ll just be working to sell another pizza – no matter the cost.

Sonya McAllister
SVP Strategic Accounts
 

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