Over 20 years of working on customer engagement strategies for major global brands have let us in on two big secrets.

First: loyalty cards don’t work. Customers who are already engaged might appreciate the occasional perk or discount, but fundamentally, you can’t buy a customer’s loyalty or bribe them into caring about your business. You have to earn the trust they have put in you – and keep on earning it. You do this through products and services you provide to your customer, the stories you tell them, the values you share with them, and – most importantly – the experience you create for them at the point of contact.

The strongest customer relationships are underpinned by the notion of the debt and the gift. Every time a company comes into contact with a customer, it should be aware that it is indebted to them. It doesn’t matter if they’re coming to the company for the 10th time or the first; if they’re spending one euro or 10,000 – the fact that they have chosen this company, above all others, at this moment in time, should inspire a feeling of deep-seated gratitude.

In return, when a customer concludes their conversation with a brand – whether that’s an online order or a face-to-face encounter – they should feel as though they have received a gift, not merely conducted a transaction. That gift – of kindness, empathy, generosity and time – is what will bring them back again and again.

Here’s the second secret: unhappy people give bad gifts. If the person in contact with the customer isn’t engaged with the exchange, no one comes out of it satisfied. This was the single, simple realisation that led us to develop People on Point. For years, businesses had spent so much time focusing exclusively on keeping their customers happy, they’d overlooked a key piece of the jigsaw: the engagement of their own employees.

Everyone in an organisation – from the factory floor to the boardroom – has an impact on the culture of company and therefore the quality of the gift it offers to its customers. The more engaged and inspired they are, the better the gift. That’s why the People On Point model has customer satisfaction as its goal, but employee engagement at its heart.