Having recently realized that Pret gave away a million cups of coffee a year for free as their “random act of kindness” loyalty scheme, I was immediately inspired by such a campaign. Having gotten a free coffee for 2-3 times from Pret myself, I had not quite realized it could have been a company policy. After all, I had never in any other occasions received free drinks or food, except when it was them who made a mistake. The very first time I got a free coffee from Pret, it so happened that it was the same day the entire office building’s power was cut by accident, I thought they might have known and pitied us, that’s why I got a free coffee. I ran telling everybody in the office they could get free coffee from Pret. It turned out that it was the staff’s random act of kindness, although according to a news report, one of the common practices is that if you look like you need cheering up, you are more likely to get a free coffee. That might have been me.

What a great idea it is for corporates to exercise random acts of kindness. Pret is not the first and the only one. Coca-Cola set up a special Coke machine in the middle of a college campus that dispensed endless drinks and other gifts. Kleenex allowed people to send free packs of tissues to their sick family and friends during its “Softness Worth Sharing” campaign. Hyatt managers and employees unexpectedly picked up bar drinks or spa massages. KLM airline surprised customers at check-in with personalized gifts to use during their trip, as shown in the video below:

Acting out of generosity and exercising acts of kindness are great ways to build customer loyalty and give back to the society. It is not necessarily because we are greedy and want things for free. But once in a while, we all need cheering up; we all need to feel that we are the lucky ones; and a little bit of surprise in a form of a free coffee, a hot chocolate, or a warm soup, for example, can make someone’s day.
There are many ways to perform these acts of kindness without costing much. In Pret’s case, they sell on average 1.5m cups of coffee a week, and give away 1m cups a year. This has earned them a lot of happy customers who will never forget that they had received free coffee from Pret. This kind of customer experience and impression are priceless. Has your organisation thought about doing something similar to surprise your clients and customers in little ways they will never forget? Have you thought about doing the little things to make your customers smile in a way that you will never forget?