Loyalty. Ask most business owners if they want customer loyalty and the likely answer would be, yes. The thing is, do they know what loyalty means and do they understand their part in it?
According to the dictionary, loyalty means a strong feeling of support or allegiance.
Given that, it stands to reason why business leaders want it from customers. In fact, it’s not just loyalty they want, it is unrivaled loyalty. That is a type of loyalty where supporting someone or something else is not even considered.
Again, it makes sense. If customers are so happy with you that they do not even think about going to another provider, you will be set for life. You will have an unlimited steady flow of sales and revenue.
But there is, again, a problem. The road to customer loyalty is paved with trust, and trust requires action on behalf of not only the side doing the trusting, the truster, but also the side asking to be trusted, the trustee.
This begs the question. What do businesses, the ones asking for loyalty (a.k.a. trust), do to earn it?
When people enter just about any kind of relationship contract, agreements are made about roles and duties, and both parties are expected to keep their end of the bargain. You see it in lofty pursuits like marriage and other long-term bonds as well as less-lofty ones like kids making pinky swears. But no matter how noble or ignoble the subject of agreement, when one party fails, trust diminishes. The same is true in business. Both parties need to keep their end of the contract or trust is jeopardized.
So, what is the contract in business? As far as customers, it is simple, they are expected to buy …and buy again when they have another need. Companies though are expected to do more, they are expected to keep the myriad promises they make. If the best experience is promised, it must be the best experience. If the price is supposed to be lowest, the price had better be lowest. If the delivery time is 24 hours, then more than 24 hours will not do. All promises must be kept, and when missteps happen, acknowledgement made, and apologies extended. This is the requirement of trust. This is what creates loyalty.
So, what about your business? What promises do you make? Are you keeping them, or do you say one thing and do another? If you find holes and still want customers to be loyal, either stop making promises you can’t or don’t want to keep, or make changes to start delivering on them, all of them, no matter what.
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