I recently wrote about the pain involved in losing a customer. This caused me to ponder further. One of the main factors contributing to customer retention is customer loyalty. So how does the power of customer loyalty factor in on customer retention?

The power of customer loyalty certainly cannot be denied. In my previous blog, I described the upset customer who was screaming at me, fuming mad. But as mad as he was on that day, there was one thing I had going for me. He was still my customer. An angry one, but a customer indeed. As I looked around his shop floor, I only saw my product stacked up on his floor and ready to use. Still no sign of the competition. The very fact that he invited me in to give me a piece of his mind told me one very important thing – he was loyal.

On the other hand, there is the customer who had no loyalty whatsoever. He didn’t call me to tell me he was unhappy. In fact, he didn’t call me at all. I called him.

It was time for a visit. Before I called to set up the visit, I checked my sales reports and saw that his normal ordering pattern was off. He usually orders every 15th of the month. But it was the end of the month and I saw no order. So, I call to arrange a visit to see if there is something I can do to help support his business. I like to do this with all customers because their success is my success.

When I call him to set up the visit, he tells me the sad news. He has already switched to a competitive product. He doesn’t yell or scream or call me any names. In fact, he is in a very good mood and proudly proclaims that he is switching to a similar product offered by a competitor at a lower cost. Forget about the fact that he has built his success on my product and it has never failed him. He now has something that he feels is as good as my product, but costs less. Where is the loyalty?

These two scenarios caused me to ponder. What inspired such intense loyalty in the first customer who had problems which upset him so much, yet he did not switch? He yelled and screamed, but after venting, he gave me time to resolve the situation and even asked how he could be part of the solution.

And yet what led to the total lack of loyalty in the tenured customer who, despite having had great success with my product, switched to another product just to save a few dollars? This made me realize that I had to gain a better understanding of the factors that breed customer loyalty and that there was a very important need to foster a sense of loyalty among my customers.

Loyalty is not bred overnight. It takes time. But time alone does not breed loyalty. So, what does? Write to me (Jimplav@gmail.com) with tips on some of the things that your company does to inspire loyalty among your customers. This will be fodder for a future blog on how to encourage loyalty.

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