One word with so many meanings – right? I hear people talking about customer loyalty as if it were something that just happens. I talk to clients who think that Loyalty is the only goal of business. I even hear the term loyalty being thrown around as if it were the silver bullet that can solve any organization’s problems. Most often, I hear loyalty confused with customer service or customer experience.
Customer Loyalty is the slow buildup over time of emotional, intellectual, and psychological ties with your customers. It is not their undying dedication to your product – that is product admiration. It is not loving your prices or value – that is price sensitivity. Those are easily achieved or lost.
It is the long-term effect of being able to retain your customers because you took the time to listen, do, and work towards it. Just as it takes a long time to build up, it takes time to deconstruct. Loyalty cannot be lost.
Take Apple for example. Hoards of loyal, almost fanatic in some cases, customers. They took the time from the beginning to do two things right: cultivate their brand, and deliver what their customers wanted. Through their hard times they could have easily done better by delivering to the mainstream. Dumb down their interfaces, open their architecture, woo more developers. However, they knew that their customer loyalty would help them through the thin times. And they did.
Before the Genius bar and retail stores (genius move – no pun intended), they had bad technical support. There were instances when people could not even get their products to work out of the box, and there was no help. Those bad experiences would have cost any other company (say, Dell for example) a heavy market share and lots of customers. Their loyal customers demanded and expected better support, and they got it. Apple knew that if they delivered to their customers, they would get loyalty in return.
Loyalty is not lost, once you get it. Customers are lost.
Are you building loyal customers? Really? Tell me more about it…