by Micah Solomon
want to be loyal. They want something to hold onto–and if you play your cards right, that something could be you.
There are challenges in making this inclination toward loyalty work out, however.
- Though the customer’s desire to be loyal may lead them to cut you slack once or twice in the face of poor service or a clunky customer experience, a spectacularly mis-designed or mis-implemented customer experience is sure to drive them away.
- While the customer inclination toward loyalty may allow them to justify paying a bit more to work with you, it’s unlikely to be sufficient to outweigh what appears to them to be an overly large price differential. The customer inclination toward loyalty tends to be just strong enough, rather, to tilt a customer toward a pattern of repeat business if all things are approximately equal.
(But these two limitations on loyalty aren’t too terrible, are they? All any business can ask for is a fair shake in the marketplace, and by at least trying to be loyal, customers are giving your business precisely this fair shake. It’s on you to make sure that your prices are reasonable, your customer service is empathetic and efficient, and your customer experience is well-designed, convenient, and keeps the customer in mind at all times. All of this, frankly, isn’t too much to ask.)
In addition to these two problems, there’s one more issue to address. It’s very serious, but it’s also not all that hard to overcome once you become aware of it. It’s that companies themselves fail to be loyal. They fail to recognize this - their customers’ desire to be loyal – as a powerful force and to embrace and demonstrate it their own corporate loyalty in return. This often happens because of mis-designed sales incentives with their emphasis on bringing in new customers rather than tending to the old. It can occur due to a lazy mindset of taking customers for granted, of assuming and taking advantage of their loyalty. It can also come about due to the opposite of taking customers for granted, of assuming the worst of existing customers–that they’re unlikely to turn out to be loyal–and turning that assumption, through customer neglect, into a self-fulfilling prophecy.