Groupon, Foursquare, and the Salvation Army acted today to better define stakeholder loyalties.
Groupon celebrated their fifth anniversary. Their blog announces better targeting and matching in future versions of their local commerce platform. These aim to invite more introductions and improve loyalty demonstrations between local stores and surrounding customers and other stakeholders.
Foursquare announced the addition of coupons to their system. I assume these will take the form of both introductions to the business as Groupon has relied on in the past as well as invitations to loyalty much further down the client-provider relationship. The latter can easily be achieved by also awarding coupons to those demonstrating advanced levels of commitment to a long-term stewardship with the business which Foursquare most conspicuously tracks.
The third organization, Salvation Army, is not young, it’s a charity that has been with society for a much longer time. But either of these two younger companies, or another, could eventually do much of the good work of charities like the Salvation Army. Many hybrids will grow as socially vested business building blurs all the lines now cloistering non-profits and social responsibility. In fact, Groupon’s founders originally had their startup more directly aimed that way.
The Salvation Army has promoted stewardship between a rich variety of stakeholders in communities for a very long time. Groups founded on doing good make that point to foster stronger communities first and develop revenue streams to promote that mission. A business with revenue streams can easily make fostering strong communities their first priority too. In fact, it’s much easier after the revenue is earned. The point is to find a way to survive as a sturdy player in the neighborhood first. Some groups will depend on legacy reputations, some will crowd source funds for direct do-gooding. Some will mix the do-gooding in with other busy ‘ness.
The lines between owners, customers, and employees will blur further and take in other stakeholders too.
Social service groups already commonly blur the lines. Employees driving their vehicles picking up and delivering items may possibly have once been a donor, volunteer, or another kind of client of the organization.
Coupons aren’t only tactile, visual, or digitally scanned; they can also smell or sound good or bad. The chocolate factory or the bagel shop sends good aromas inviting my loyalty. The Salvation Army visits our retail stores every winter holiday season to offer the public ringing coupons that invite further loyalty with potential clients. Some like the bells, others don’t.
Today, one of the Salvation Army’s drivers offered me a series of negative coupons. He parked his long truck in the street outside my open window on a ‘spare the air’ kind of day. They were eating lunch, filling out paperwork, listening to tunes, enjoying the a/c, or any number of things in the half hour the diesel motor ran.
I shut the window, took a break from my writing, ran the vacuum, made some beds, and then went out to gently remind him that people live and work in these residences his fumes and noise rise to.
He decided it was time to go, nodded without any eye contact, and revved the engine much stronger than necessary. They were parked in the very middle of the street and at least 80 yards to the stop sign, so I guess he had a drag of a point to make.
I felt very uninvited to my own neighborhood with those series of coupons. One employee’s behavior will be strongly associated with the Salvation Army logo for me now. They were significant invitations for disloyalty to engage further with the organization whether I like bell-ringing or their version of private public service or not.
Hire well and teach well. The public interface is your loyalty machine from now on. The public now sniffs out all the angles your group make. Our phone cameras and blogs will post the stories.