You may have heard of the Six Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini.

One of these is the principle of reciprocation or that we like to get something and then look to do something in return.

This is at the heart of customer loyalty.

What can you do to increase your customer loyalty?


Here is one interesting example from a Car Wash that looks at increasing customer participation in a frequency programme.

Example: A car wash required 8 purchases and stamps on a card to earn a free car wash. They discovered that when they gave a customer a card with 2 out of 10 required stamps already “pre-stamped,” that 34 percent would persist with the programme and complete the additional required 8 punches. Contrast that to those who were given a card that only required 8 stamps in the first place—the  same number as required on the other card—but with ZERO freebies. The final redemption rate plummeted to a mere 19 percent.

Why does this work?

There are several reasons why this head start story works. One is that people think “I’m already 20% of the way done, I might as well keep going.” The other has to do with the psychology of getting a “deal,” which simply means that people act differently when they think they’re getting a special, personalised favour.

The key point is that everybody wants a win. Everybody wants a head start. Everybody wants an inside deal. So give your prospects a  win, a head start, and an inside deal.


In fact, giving customers (what they perceive to be) preferential treatment works in all kinds of situations. Take the case of waiters using sweets to increase their tips.

First, the evidence: According to Monmouth University researcher David Strohmertz, waiters can increase their tip by giving customers  a sweet with their bill (19.59% average tip vs. 18.95% with no candy). They can increase their tip even more by doubling up and giving two pieces of  candy: 21.62%.

But here’s the twist: Strohmertz found that the tip could be increased even more by first giving a single sweet, then after turning to leave, turning back around, and offering a second sweet. This artificial drama evidently makes diners feel like they’ve received special treatment—something ostensibly outside of the normal sweet-giving protocol—which was rewarded with an average tip of 22.99%.


Look for ways to apply this some principle in your business.


A magazine advertising sales rep could offer a 2nd, smaller ad to be run in the back of the publication for free. KEY: wait until after the customer signs for the first ad, THEN give the free ad as an unexpected thank you gesture.

A double glazing sales rep could ease an indecisive prospect into a decision by pulling a £250 gift card (for his company) out of his wallet and saying,  “We had 5 of these to give away at a show last weekend, but this one went unclaimed. My boss gave it to me and said to  give it to anyone who’s ready to buy—we were going to give the discount to someone anyway.”

A hotel concierge, rental car company, etc. could give their customers a little lift after handing the room keys / car keys by offering a bottle of water with the explanation :”there’s water in your room / at our rental counter, but it’s £2 a bottle; I found a couple of extra bottles up here… if you want one, it’s yours”.


Just find something that you can GIVE to your customers for free that appears to be done as a special favour, and see their reaction.

They’ll become more loyal. They’ll talk you up to their friends which will lead to referrals. And they’ll like you more.