On Monday i went to the cinema and was asked the following question; "Are you a Friend of Eden Court?" and i was tempted to reply with; "Well technically no, but i didn't realise we had to be enemies".
Ok the cinema is called Eden Court and they have a membership program called 'Friends of Eden Court', but taken out of context the question seems a little harsh. If i didn't know about the loyalty program, i would certainly have felt alienated, heck even knowing about the program i still felt a little sting. While i'm sure people on the program get a warm fuzzy feeling when asked if they are a friend and get to reply yes, anyone who is not a member isn't going to feel great.
Maybe that is part of the plan, to make customers who aren't members feel guilty until they join. But if so it seems like a pretty poor plan, sure some might join out of guilt, but the rest are just going to stop coming back because they are made to feel guilty when they do. What they need to do is give loyal customers the warm fuzzy feeling, without alienating new/returning customers who haven't joined.
The funny thing is that by making a subtle change in the wording of the question, you would still get the benefit for members and be less confrontational with non-members. I propose; "Are you a member of the Friends of Eden Court?". Ok it is not quite as snappy, but it makes it clear that you can become a 'friend' and doesn't make you feel quite so bad about not being one.