Customer loyalty starts with an organization being loyal to its customers.

All organizations strive to have loyal customers. These customers give you their business over and over and help you gain new customers through endorsement to friends and colleagues.

Companies try to motivate this behavior through various referral and reward programs. From Starbucks to Delta to Starwood – customers earn points, miles, and other rewards they can use to subsidize buying more from that company.

While some of these mechanisms are true customer rewards, others are lock-in mechanisms that increase switching costs. Either way, they help keep the customer. However, a customer who stays with a company because they don’t want to lose their rewards, is not always a happy customer. Don’t mistake customer retention for customer loyalty.

Low Churn != High Loyalty

If a customer stays with a company due to sunken or huge switching costs, they’re likely to tell everyone they can’t wait to abandon the company the moment they can afford to. Can you really consider that individual a loyal customer?

Real customer loyalty is when customers love your brand and what it stands for. They value the sum total of the experience you provide. It’s not about whether or not your company makes mistakes, it’s about how you behave when an unexpected challenge arises or when something doesn’t go as planned. It’s about all aspects of your product and service taking the customer’s needs into account. It’s about you demonstrating that you truly appreciate them.

Just give a damn! Really, truly care about your customers. Make them the center of your world. Be loyal to your customers first and you will see the magic of customer loyalty happen.

circle-graphic-100NPSForte loves its customers

We took a note from Beyoncé: we like our customers, so we put a ring on them! Forte is a customer-centric organization by design. Every aspect of our being revolves around how we can make our customers’ lives better.

From the products we create and deliver to our excellent service to how we market and sell to customers, they are front and center in our heart and mind. In the coming blogs, I and my colleagues will take each of these areas and talk about some pragmatic ways to implement a customer-centric approach. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear your experiences.