The truth about loyalty
Business people around the world keep telling me, “There’s no such thing as customer loyalty anymore.” They’re dead wrong. This is one of the biggest and most damaging lies you can tell yourself. Why is this lie so dangerous? Because, if you believe it’s impossible to achieve customer loyalty, you won’t even try. You’ll give up, get resentful, blame your customers, or lack of customers for your lack of success. That’s the beginning of the end. You’ll never solve a problem you don’t take ownership of.
You could read a book two inches thick about customer loyalty, but here’s all you really need to know in just one sentence: “People are loyal to what’s best for them – or what they assume is best for them.”
That’s it. Read it again: “People are loyal to what’s best for them – or what they assume is best for them.” Make that into a sign and put it on the wall opposite your desk. It’s that important.
To change suppliers of anything from haircuts to heavy equipment is a pain in the behind. Most of us would rather find one great business or service provider in every part of our business and our personal lives – and then stick with them. So, the irony is while business people insist there’s no such thing as customer loyalty anymore, we’re all desperately searching for businesses to be loyal to.
That’s the real truth. Anything we tell ourselves differently is to avoid taking responsibility for the fact we’ve failed to create and effectively communicate compelling value and experiences at a competitive price. We’ve failed to be ‘best’ for our target customers.
So, if you’re not experiencing the degree of loyalty you’d like in either your business or your personal life, it’s for one of two simple reasons:
You’re not best for anyone yet…which means you have work to do. You need to stop whining, stop blaming the universe for making people different and do the work required to be ‘best’. You need to understand who your target customers are and what life’s really like for them. Then, you need to have the creativity and courage to deliver compelling value and extraordinary experiences at a price that will ‘grab’ those customers, clearly differentiate you from the competition, make you ‘famous’ and grow your bottom line. Remember, mediocrity is no longer an option.
Or, perhaps you are ‘best’ for a particular group of people but have done a lousy job of communicating your compelling value to them. Again, you have work to do. How will you effectively and affordably communicate your compelling value to your target customers in a crowded and cynical marketplace? There’s no point in being the best if you’re also the best-kept secret.
Are you the ‘wise choice’ for your target customers? This simple, profound question is one I’ve been asking clients for years. If you’re not the ‘wise choice’ stop whining about no customer loyalty and do the work to deserve it. If you’re counting on customers to be stupid, gullible or forgiving of your incompetence or mediocrity, you’re in trouble.
Loyalty is not dead – unless you kill it. It’s your responsibility to deserve the loyalty you want and need. Simply put, your job is to be the best for your target customers – to be their ‘wise choice’ and then effectively communicate with them to help them assume that as well.
Action to take: Sit down, for just one hour, with some of the best minds and hearts in your business. Start a list of what needs to be done to make you the unquestioned ‘wise choice’ for your target customers. What will it take to stand out as the trusted and respected authority on the products or services you sell? What will it take to become what I call the ‘Caring Coach’? What will it take to turn customers into fans who become your most powerful marketing force? What will it take to get the media and key influencers talking, writing, texting and tweeting about you? What level of knowledge, caring, integrity and proactive marketing will put you in that top spot?
Then, determine what action you’ll take to make this happen. Specifically, for each decision made, what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, measured how and rewarded how – and followed up by whom? Remember, businesses don’t die from a single shot to the head, they die slowly but surely from a thousand uncompleted tasks.