WOW Word-Of-theWeek #298: Loyalty

May 17, 2010 by  

Loyalty – what businesses (and spouses for that matter) want.

Do you talk to your staff about customer loyalty? What are you doing to create loyal customers, guests, members or clients? Are you a loyal customer?

This week I have been pondering loyalty and what it means to me. American Airlines created the Frequent Flyer Program in 1980 to create loyal flyers. I totally bought into the whole game and became loyal to United Airlines for what I got. All those miles! (Chris became loyal to Delta for the same reason.) I used to fly the airline that got me where I needed to go the fastest and easiest. Then the hotel chains, car rental companies, credit card companies, etc all created their own loyalty programs.

Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, writes in this week’s Electronic House Call, “In his new book, The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence, management guru Tom Peters says:

“I think we’re realizing that life is not this great intellectual construct. It’s remembering the simple things your grandmother taught you, getting through the day, and helping others get through the day.”

To which my friend and change agent, Chris Clarke-Epstein adds,

“What might happen if you, your team, and your organization decided to change some little behaviors that would build (or reinforce) a reputation of being the most helpful people on the planet. Now that’s change we could all live with!”

Am I the only one who thinks this is a perfect description of what you should aspire to be if you want to be known as A Place of Hospitality™? How close does your company come to meeting these definitions?

Remember that hospitality is about giving, not taking. When you focus on how much you can give your guests, they will reciprocate by giving you their loyalty and support.

But if your actions show you are only concerned with how much money you can get from them, potential patrons will see you as just one more place to eat, feel no long term loyalty and force you to compete on price.

You get to choose which way you do business. Choose wisely.”

I believe that every business should adopt the “Hospitality Mentality.” We all sell something and serve our customers, guests, members, or clients. This week focus on loyalty. How could you and your staff be more helpful? How does it feel to give more than you take?

FYI – Last week’s WOW generated this reader response. “Hi, you left us hanging.  Did you capitulate and pay the restaurant charge or did you stand your ground?  Inquiring minds want to know… “I absolutely stood my ground and got my $50 credit.”

Reader Responses

“In order to keep loyal customers, companies will have to remember to keep giving. Unfortunately, many corporations have cut back on customer perks in order to save money. This has forced customers to take their business elsewhere. This shortsighted policy is penny-wise but dollar-foolish. People who were longtime customers were used to these perks. Then, when the rug gets pulled from under their feet, they get frustrated and leave. Usually, firms learn their lessons too late, and they can’t get those customers back. If companies can bite the bullet in the short term and take care of their loyal customers, they might be surprised that they can build on that base. What I see a lot in business is that companies will copy cat what others are doing to pare costs. The mindset is: Well, that company is cutting back on things they never did before, so why don’t we. Rationalizing such cutbacks is a great big cop out. And they know it, but because others are doing it they might as well. It is not until business is gone that the companies learn their lessons. By then, it is way too late. I have also learned that when perks are taken away – from not only customers but employees – that they never come back. Once the loyalty is gone, it is hard to bring it back. Companies take years to build up trust and loyalty, but when they take things away it takes even longer to build up all that trust again. Sadly, it never does get back to where it once was. A sad time it is.” – Joe