Now I love a good coffee as much as the next man and woman. I am loyal too. And regular. So when a regular customer spots a problem it’s well worth flagging…
by Ruth Fry
I love my coffee. Particularly my Caffé Nero coffee. I sometimes think it would save time and effort if my salary were paid directly to the local branch of Caffé Nero just up the street from my office. It’s interesting how brand-loyal you can become to a simple bean-based beverage – my mum is a Caffé Nero aficionado like me, while my dad is Team Costa, to the extent that when they are in town together they will split up to purchase their respective Americanos. True story.
Being a CN fan (not #spon, unfortunately), I was an early adopter of their smartphone app, the first version of which was simple yet effective. It allowed you to pay via your phone, by linking the app to your debit card, and it provided an alternative way to collect the loyalty stamps which see you earn a free coffee for every 10 you buy. It was simply a computerised version of the little cards and ink stamps they still proffer to the less digitally-enabled: for every purchase you saw a virtual stamp appear on your virtual card, complete with slightly squiffy graphics on the stamp to make it look like the real thing.
And, crucially, you could check your virtual card at any time, seeing the stamps build up and knowing exactly when that sweet, sweet freebie was coming your way.
Then they updated the app. As you do – change happens, don’t sweat it. Except, alongside some fancy new rewards options, one thing had gone seriously downhill. The new app has a ‘wallet’ which holds both your virtual payment card and your loyalty card. Except it doesn’t – not unless your loyalty card is fully stamped. That’s right: you cannot view a partially completed card. It is invisible. Inscutable. Unknowable.
And that’s a problem. Because behaviour change research has taught us that framing a reward is just as important, if not more important, than the reward itself. The really relevant experiment in this case rewarded car wash clients with loyalty stamps. Customers received either a ‘buy eight and get one free’ card, or one which gave them a free wash for every ten purchases, but had two free credits already stamped. The reward was the same. But the pre-stamped cards created more repeat customers. The researchers, Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dreze, dubbed this the ‘endowed progress effect’. In other words, people are more likely to follow through on a behaviour when they can see the progress they have already made towards achieving a reward.
The new Caffé Nero app disregards this. So, if you get an extra stamp for bringing a reusable cup, you can’t actually see it in front of you. Even if you win an extra stamp via the whizzy new bonus rewards system, you don’t know whether that has brought you to the brink of a free cuppa or not. I’ve yet to conduct comprehensive research, but I’m certainly less likely to look forward to my free coffee day, or sneak an extra coffee one afternoon to top up my card to the limit than I used to be.
Which is a shame, because it’s little treats like this that keep us humans on the road, along with the rest of our irrational, nonsensical behaviours and traits. So please, Caffé Nero, if you’re reading this: bring back the option to view a partially-fulfilled loyalty card. It’s the little nudge we need to recaffeinate in your otherwise esteemed establishments. And you wouldn’t want me to go all Costa on you now, would you?
Ruth Fry is communications manager at Perth and Kinross Council. You can say hello to her on Twitter at @RuthieHooch
Image via The Library of Cogress