We talk with organisations on a frequent basis about their desire to gain or improve customer loyalty. It's a 'holy grail' in some respects, achieved or earned by initially doing the basics exceptionally well taking Tom Peters' view, which in turn delivers high levels of customer satisfaction and, so the story goes, will ensure that customers will react by being more loyal, staying as customers longer, spending more and recommending organisations to other people. This, (if you could use the phase in the current exponentially changing world we have come to realise we live in) guarantees (or comes as close as you can get) future sales, increased revenues and potentially ssafeguards the survival of the business, as long as customers remain the central focus.
However, consider this view which I came across when reading an e-newsletter by Steve Yastrow, author of 'Brand Harmony' and We, The Ideal Customer Relationship;
"It is obvious to customers when they are means to our ends. If they perceive that we view them merely as instruments for transaction, they will view us similarly in return. The loyalty they give us will not be real loyalty. It will be nothing more than barter. There's nothing wrong with barter, but it isn't loyalty. Loyalty lasts, but barter is only as good as the current transaction.
It is also obviousus to customers when we are loyal to them. Show your customers that your interest is them, and not what you get from them, and you automatically earn their loyalty in return."
I suppose the questions I would urge you to ask is;
Are we truely loyal to our customers?
What are loyal behaviors?
Are we only loyal to the extent of what they pay us or what they will pay?
What more could we do, or would be prepared to do to show our customers that we are loyal?
What would you do if it was your wife or partner instead and wanted to show your loyalty?
An interesting twist on the subject I think and an insightful way of taking a different perspective. One extra conversation I'll definitely be having with my customers... How about you?