In business and in life, everyone has their own take on the word loyalty.
For those in loving relationships it means ‘true to you til death’, for good friends it means ‘I’ll stand by you even when I could happily punch you’, while for the more emotionally challenged, it’s a case of quid pro quo...’I’ll be loyal to you just so long as I believe you’re loyal to me!’ It’s the way of the world...we judge people all the time by their capacity to be loyal to us.
It’s the same in business...only over there the laws of loyalty have got all screwed up, by companies so desperate to make money and stay afloat that they forget the way loyalty works.
Just think how many times you have heard complaints about a business who spends more time, more focus and more money on winning new clients...often by giving them the best deals...rather than giving their existing customers the best experience possible, winning a lifetime of loyalty and maybe even a bunch of very vocal advocates!
Or the employer who expects ultimate loyalty from their people, simply because they pay them, but doesn’t have a process for development, performance management or recognition.
Loyalty is not something you can buy. Yes, loyalty schemes are a nice value add that customers enjoy...but they very soon become a standard expectation and can lead to dissatisfaction if they are removed or compare badly to competitors’ schemes. These programmes won’t grow your business in the long-term.
In my view, the only way to earn a lifetime of customer loyalty and a healthy dose of employee loyalty, is to give them both a great experience!
For your people that means hiring only those who fit your culture and values, building their skills and confidence through your development system; challenging them through your performance management system, and rewarding them for their contribution to the growth of your business through your recognition system. Do this and your people will love you, and stay loyal to you, long after they have left you.
For your customers it means having a great product, and a great team who understand that they are there to provide solutions to your customers’ problems, and who do that consistently well. That’s what makes a business stand out. That’s what engenders customer loyalty.
To grow any business, you have to have a loyal base of customers, a high performing team, and a great product. Get all three of these together and the sky’s the limit!
But that’s just my view...what’s yours? When you think of the friends and the brands you are loyal to...what qualities and values stand out for you...how have they earned your loyalty? Something to chew on over the weekend... :)
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Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)