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Customer Loyalty is all about Making Unconditional Connections

Our four legged friends have much to teach us

Most dogs can teach anyone more about loyalty in 10 minutes than all the classes, workshops, books and gurus on the subject combined.

Dogs are intensely loyal. They’re good at it. They know the true secret; it’s unconditional. Because it’s not something you get. It’s something you give.

3 Quick Stories about Customer Loyalty

In business, you can connect with people whether you’re the buyer or the seller. I like to meet people and form a connection even when I’m doing something as simple as buying a pizza. These quick little stories are from my perspective as “the customer”. You’ll see why later.

1. Pop. No Snap, No Crackle

Everyone loves pizza. Half the time I get it delivered and half the time I’ll go out to a pub or something. The third half of the time, I order it and go pick it up. The reason I go pick it up is because I want to know the people there. And I want them to know me.

A couple weeks ago I went to pick up a pizza and the manager says “Hey, take a free pop”. I looked at him puzzled. He replies, “You’re in here all the time. You’re a really good customer”.

No big fanfare or expense. Just a simple gesture. Connection. Mission accomplished.

2. “Bin” There, Seen That

Everyone hates going to the video store only to find all the good movies are already out. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re still sitting in the return bin. Whenever I run into my local video store I like to chat with the people there. I like to get their opinions on different movies. And I let them know what I thought of this or that movie.

I see a lot of people ask for a particular movie only to be told “They’re all out”. But whenever I ask, I usually get a different answer; “Let me check the bin for you”. Connection.

3. Sock it to ‘Em

If you’ve read my About page, you know that I go out with friends just about every Sunday for a 3 hour power-breakfast. The girls at the Yucca Tree are as much a part of the “club” and the conversation as we are.

Just before last Christmas I called 10 minutes before they opened and thought they were closed. We were disappointed. They were disappointed. After the holidays they had gifts waiting for us. I got socks. I forget what we got them. But again … connection.

Unconditional Means You Go First

These are not big, amazing stories. That’s the point. Connections are small and simple and easy to make.

But someone has to start. Someone has to reach out. Whether you’re the buyer or the seller; for customer loyalty or any kind of loyalty to happen, someone has to go first. No strings attached.

Just ask your dog. He knows.

Denouement
 

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13 Comments

  1. Hi Shane,

    That was a great commentary on customer / business loyalty. Simple, short, and right on target. Both sides, if they’re willing to give a little bit more, should hopefully eventually see some results.

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    Glad you liked it and thanks for the feedback. A lot of businesses have to deal with problem customers and a lot of customers have to deal with businesses that value a short-term buck over long-term loyalty.

    The ability to create loyalty is a huge advantage that small entrepreneurs have over large businesses. And practicing it as a customer helps you see the other side and deliver it to your own customers.

  3. You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. (See my site for details), I would love for you to participate.

  4. Great post :D I find it hard to talk to people such as you do when I’m ordering my food or doing something out in public like that. But in reality, it’s the small talk that makes those connections and employees appreciate it as well.

    I know that where I work we have people come in every other day, literally. We’ll give them free sodas and even free sides of food because of their loyalty.

    -Gregg

  5. Hey Gregg,

    That’s a perfect example of real life experience from the business’s point of view. Loyal customers keep being loyal customers when those connections are reciprocated. Loyal customers WANT to be loyal customers …

    A lot of customers do too. If you reached out and made little connections with NEW customers … some of them would become loyal customers!

    Could be an interesting experiment to try out where you work.

  6. Good post Shane and I am with you 100% on that. I would be out of business if I didn’t make those connections, and in the end the other person says ” by the way what do you do for a living Robin”, thats it, I have actually driven home the nail without trying for it.

    I modestly admit that this connections bit comes to me naturally.

    Take care and cheers

  7. Robin,

    It’s a great skill to have. Being a people-person builds networks and builds a business one person at a time. And over time that can add up, and add to all the other things we do to build business.

    I’d love to hear some “connections” stories from you over at Fortune Watch!

  8. [...] If you think customer loyalty can be achieved by using cutting edge customer relationship management (CRM) software and different loyalty programs, think again. Just like in friendship, loyalty must be earned through excellent service and high quality products, over a period of time. Borrowing the words of Zoomstart, loyalty is all about making unconditional connections. [...]

  9. [...] from Zoomstart wrote an awesome piece on Customer Loyalty that contained a few cool little stories. We all love [...]

  10. Those type of connections are invaluable. I recently moved to a pretty small town in Kansas, and it’s truly amazing how much your theory is amplified. I met one person at the post office and chatted with them about what I do and all of a sudden they are listing off 4 different friends of their’s who have been wanting to get a website for their various businesses…Connections!

    PS I was glad to StumbleUpon your site and this post…but I have to tell you I was really motivated to keep reading, comment and subscribe to your feed when I saw someone else reference “pop” instead of soda…I can’t tell you how many times I say that and people laugh…Connections come in all forms and can be instantaneous and random!

  11. Haha

    Dana, I’m glad I could win you over by adding a little “pop” to the site!

    Small towns are all about making connections. Make some good ones and everybody knows. Make some bad ones … ev-ery-body knows. And all it really is, is social networking in the real world. Funny how it’s easier for people to do online rather than in person.

    But people want to make those connections. We need them. And making them offline is a huge part of networking your business and making it a success.

  12. [...] from Zoomstart wrote a cracking article entitled ‘Customer loyalty is all about making unconditional connections‘ – you should see every visitor to your website as a customer. It is up to you to create [...]

  13. [...] not all about price. Competing on price is a hard game to play, and it doesn’t cultivate customer loyalty. Only value and relationship building can do that. And rather than “adding” value, you [...]


 

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