Got To Do With It?
© 2004 By
Customer Loyalty, we all want it. Don't we?
Some people say its dead - they say that customers are
fickle, that they don't want loyalty, that they just want
the lowest price and the fastest way to get it. Some say
that customers have changed and that the pursuit of loyalty
is foolish, since it's the customers that are not interested
it in it. I don't agree. Loyalty is not DEAD, it's just
I agree that customers have changed (because our needs have
changed.) We're more demanding than ever before, we have
more choices than ever before, we're more educated than most
of the companies we do business with (about their products
and their competitive position.) And here's the truth: we
don't give our loyalty to companies that don't give their
loyalty to us.
Companies have in the last ten years made it more difficult,
more confusing, and more frustrating to deal with them than
ever before. They give all the "special offers" to the new
customers; they've removed human beings from answering
phones and answering questions. They make us pump our own
gas, check on our packages, book our own airline tickets and
figure out when they've made mistakes on our accounts. They
cut their training budgets and have trimmed their service
staffs to the bone. They pay big bonuses at the top, but at
the bottom of the corporate pyramid, where the customers lie
(if they make the pyramid at all) they charge us fees for
the privilege of using their services!
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Is it no wonder we've become rather selective to whom we pledge our
No, customer loyalty is not dead, but it is
ailing. It is given only to those companies that
earn it and keep earning it by delivering value
and positive experiences on a consistent basis.
Companies that want to Thrive.. not just survive
in this century better figure out fast that
keeping more of their customers, and keeping
them happy is a critical economic necessity.
Good and loyal customers are critical to
profitability. Estimates are that it costs 6 -30
times more to get new customers than it does to
maintain the ones you have. If you keep losing
customers and have to keep replacing them, it
makes sense that you are spending money on sales
and marketing that could be going elsewhere.
It's your LOYAL customers that give you
referrals and sing your praises in your
advertising and testimonials. Referral business
is like "free" new customers. So the money you
would have paid to GET the new customer drops
back down to your bottom line.
I find it is sadly true that most companies
don't have a strategic plan for keeping
customers, keeping them happy OR keeping them
coming back time and time again with their money
and their friends. Even though Customer Loyalty
was determined to be a #1 concern of CEO's
(according to the Conference Board) how many
companies do more than pay lip service to the
importance of customer service and loyalty in
their organization? Your guess is as good as
mine. Based on the service I receive as a
customer, well, I can understand why more
customers aren't loyal, can you?
What can YOU do to change that? What can you do
to turn the tide on this disturbing trend and
develop long lasting, loyal customer
And what's LOVE got to do with it?
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Everything. Business is based on
relationships and relationships are based on
qualities such as trust, respect, appreciation,
understanding, generosity, clear open and honest
communication and heavy doses of kindness,
compassion and affection. Sometimes known as
Studies show that the main reason customers will
leave a company they are doing business with is
that they perceive the company does not care
about them or their needs. And conversely,
studies show that when asked why they stay loyal
to a particular company for a long time,
customers respond, "Because they cared about
me." This perception and feeling of caring is
the emotional bridge between customer
satisfaction and customer loyalty. And, it's
often the bridge between lackluster profits and
thriving good health on the bottom line.
It about emotion. Loyalty is an emotional
attachment to a company based on the customer's
subjective perception that the company is
delivering the value they desire or need, when
and how they need it. It's based on their needs,
and it's based on their experience of doing
business with us. As a customer myself, I know
that the companies I chose to give my loyalty to
are those that make me feel good about the whole
experience of doing business with them.
When we FEEL good about doing business with a
company we form emotional ties, not just
financial ties with them. Let's face it,
customers are emotionally attached to their
money - if we want them to give some of it to us
- we need to get them emotionally attached to
Emotions have been "undiscussable" in business
for a long time. "Feelings" is the "F" word of
the business world. How many times have we
heard that we are to keep our feelings out of
it, keep our emotions away from our business
decisions, and park our personal problems at the
door? Sound familiar? Well I've learned that you
cannot expect your staff to bring their passion
to work and but not their feelings. It just
doesn't work that way. It's time we developed an
emotional literacy in business.
Employees and Customers are people. People have
feelings. And as people, their decisions are
effected by their feelings, whether they can
identify the feelings or not. Any salesperson
can tell you that while people make decisions
that look logical, they are more often than not,
based on emotion.
As people we are perceptive, conscious,
sensitive, alive and feeling beings! It's an
essential part of our nature. When we recognize
that in business, we'll work harder at building
the emotional equity with a customer that
determines whether or not they become a loyal
customer or a lost customer.
It is the perception, the feeling of being cared
about that keeps the customers coming back. And
it's what we do to build and support and create
that feeling that creates a positive experience
for the customer.
Every customer has two sets of needs. The
business needs are logical, rational, and
practical. The personal needs are emotional,
illogical and sometimes even irrational, but
carry a lot of weight. The fulfillment of the
customer's business needs is usually what gets
them in the door in the first place - you are
selling what they need. But it's the fulfillment
of the customer's personal needs that will keep
them coming back. Once the business needs are
met, they often take a back seat to the
customer's experiential needs.
It's the quality of the emotional experience you
have with a company that will determine whether
or not you want to keep recreating that
experience. We come back to companies that have
what we want and create a positive experience
for us. We leave companies that don't have what
we want or create a negative experience for us.
Experience is emotional.
ithout opening it.
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When a customer walks away from the whole experience (your
greeting, interacting with your website, the dealing with
people in your office..) of doing business with you with
positive emotions like happiness, joy, delight, caring,
security, welcome and appreciation - they will most likely
want to come back (if you recreate the positive emotions
If they walk away from the experience with negative emotions
like frustration, anger, disgust, fear, incompetence,
indifference, if they leave with a lack of confidence, if
they leave feeling stupid -- and if that's what's delivered
consistently - they usually don't stay around unless they
haven't YET found some other place to go.
It's the quality of the emotional experiences that customers
have with you that will determine whether or not they will
continue to do business with you over time
What's LOVE got to do with it? Maybe more than we thought!
Tim Sanders, Chief Solutions Officer, Yahoo writing in "Love
is the Killer App," says "What do I mean by "love"? The best
general definition that I've read comes from philosopher
Milton Mayeroff's brilliant book, On Caring. Love, he
writes, 'is the selfless promotion of the growth of the
other.' When you help others grow to become the best people
that they can be, you are being loving, and as a result, you
What a great description for what we want to happen in our
business relationships! I want to do business with a company
that believes in the selfless promotion of the growth of ME
and my business! I want to give my money to companies that
want to help me be the best ME I can be - whether I'm buying
cosmetics or computers or telephone service or food. I want
to do business with someone who has my best interests in
In lieu of that - I'll do my own research, haul my own
lumber and pump my own gas - but if I'm doing the service
work - then I want the lowest price possible! I'm not loyal
to companies that don't care enough about me to make my
experience with them easy, stress and hassle free, and
pleasant. How about you?
What's love got to do with it? A whole lot more than we ever
thought. Let's start doing a better job of creating
experiences that the customer perceives as positive, caring,
and yes, maybe even loving.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JoAnna Brandi is the Publisher of JoAnna Brandi's Customer
Care Coach TM, a weekly e-mail training and coaching program designed to
help teach the "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care." She is
the Author of "Building Customer Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in
ACTION" and "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em Happy,
Keep 'em Loyal and Keep 'em Coming Back." She has been in the customer
retention and loyalty business for 14 years and is a popular public
speaker on the topics. Sign up for her free email tips!
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