Note: This is an encore post from our Loyalty Leaders blog.
Welcome back. This is our third and last post on this topic. We have discussed how real loyalty is earned and deal loyalty is bought. We talked about some ways to improve real loyalty. Now we’ll finish up by talking about one more way to improve real loyalty, a couple of personal examples, and two of our favorite resources.
Here’s a surefire way to get people coming back and becoming advocates:
Surprise and Delight
Consumers love comfort and reliability. They will be loyal if you provide those. However, people also like to be positively surprised with something special. They remember unique experiences. Gifts are nice, but what’s even more powerful are experiences that go beyond the expected. This could be engaging with a patron’s child and making her smile or providing a special-effort service without charge. This is where training and hiring is so important. Front-line customer-facing employees can make or break customer loyalty. The good ones recognize opportunities to surprise and delight, and they perform – despite the fact that tracking loyalty back to their efforts is not easy.
Think about the corporate culture of Southwest Airlines. They are built to make travel fun and their whole culture revolves around that objective. They most likely even have a forum built for employees to share jokes, tips, and other ways to engage with and delight customers. In a thankless industry they have built incredible real loyalty.
Speaking of Southwest Airlines, they are one of our personal favorites. We’re located in downtown Chicago, so we have the luxury of choice for carriers and even airports. Beyond the perception that Southwest has a better on-time track record, we are REALLY loyalty to them. They fly from Midway, which is usually a more convenient and manageable airport. And they really do make it more fun. We can tell the difference when we fly other carriers. When we need to book travel, the first place we go is Southwest.com. We usually don’t even compare prices.
Another company who gets our REAL love is 48hourprint.com. They provide online printing services for small businesses. We use them for ourselves and sometimes our clients. There are many, many players in that space. But 48hourprint provide a consistent, quality product, and they are a pleasure to do business with. They answer the phone, send little gifts periodically, and they do something that seems so rare these days. They call us back promptly.
When we need quick, short-run print services, we go to 48hourprint.com. No three bids, no price shopping. We’re proud to say we’re loyal.
So, what are some of the businesses you REALLY love and why? How can you integrate some of those reasons into your business and career? The odds are that when you think about these businesses and why you love them, their marketing strategies and tactics will not not be the reasons. As marketers, the best ways we can influence real loyalty are to be honest and brand consistent with our messaging, and provide the insight and ideas for management to help them stay the course for true customer loyalty.
Finally, here are a couple of books that deal with the topic of Real Loyalty (although not blatantly). These are great resources for helping companies break the discounting habit.
Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
From their website:
- Blue Ocean Strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost.
- The aim of Blue Ocean Strategy is not to out-perform the competition in the existing industry, but to create new market space or a blue ocean, thereby making the competition irrelevant.
Beyond Price – Mary Kay Plantes and Robert Finfrock
Beyond Price will teach readers how to innovate their business models to escape the gravity of commoditization and price-driven competition
– Jay Weinberg