Customer Loyalty is Golden

My oldest son took a seasonal position at Best Buy this past Christmas.  He is very skilled and knowledgeable at all things electronic, gaming and computers.  One evening, after work, we sat at our kitchen table, and he shared stories about the silly things various customers did that day.  After a half of an hour, I asked him how he liked his job.

“It’s great.  But if I could not deal with customers, it would be awesome!” he replied. 

His answer reminded me of a Peanuts comic with Linus and Lucy.  Linus has decided he wants to be a great doctor making a great difference in humanity as we know it.  Lucy tells him he cannot do it, because he doesn’t love mankind.  In the final panel, Linus declares, “I love mankind.  It’s people l can’t stand!”

If we are honest, often in the day, we have the attitude toward our members like my son and Linus.  So one day, centuries ago, some business owner came up with the idea that his company needed to satisfy his clients.  Customer satisfaction became the byword that has been charted, measured, surveyed and analyzed since that time. 

Satisfying your members or your clients is worthless.  Think about it.  If I go to a store or a restaurant and leave only “satisfied”, will I go back again?  Perhaps.  That establishment has gone into the pool of possible places to shop the next time I need that item.  Will I go there again?  Maybe.  But they will compete in my mind with all the other places where I was only “satisfied”.  My final decision will be based upon the cheapest alternative among all the shops that only “satisfied” me. 

I worked in a savings and loan in my hometown in the early ‘90s.  We did a lot of residential mortgages, so my goal was to develop relationships with each Realtor in town to get them to send their clients to me.  My goal with each one was to exceed the expectations of the client and the Realtor.  One year, the largest real estate company in my town sent half of the closings his office did to me.  They also did not recommend any other mortgage place but mine.  This happened, not because of mere customer satisfaction, but because of the relationship I built with them.

The true gold in them thar customer hills is loyalty.  If I my members are loyal to me, they love me. They know every time they do business with me, not only are they satisfied, but they have received added value to make them even more successful.  Coming back to me is an automatic response for them and not a decision based upon price.  They also will tell everyone they know about me, and their testimonial is precious.  If you are one of the very few lucky ones, they will even bring potential clients to your desk. 

Think about it.  My wife and daughter love Starbucks.  The price of the coffee and tea there doesn’t faze them.  They like the quality, taste, atmosphere and friendliness of the staff at Starbucks.  In one community we lived in, the only store where there were friendly people was at Starbucks. 

Now they can probably get the same product at another store, perhaps one even less expensive.  But is that in their decision process for good iced tea?  No, because they are loyal to Starbucks.

Customer loyalty is your goal.  Every contact you have with a business client is an opportunity you have to continue writing the story between you and that client.  What kind of story are you writing?  The first step toward loyalty is to treat your members the way you would treat your favorite sports hero, celebrity, friend, grandmother or yourself.