In the course of my work day, because I spend a lot of time on forums and on Facebook and Twitter, and because I also write a blog and column of Stitches Magazine, I get to see a lot of posts about how people think a business should be run. There are posts talking about social media, comments about sales and special offers, gripes about poor communication and slow shipping times, pretty much every aspect of running a business gets covered, except one. Loyalty.
When loyalty does get discussed it’s generally mentioned in the context of making customers more loyal to a company. There are customer retention programs and customer discount clubs and all sorts of things designed to make the people who buy from a particular company more loyal to that company. Everyone knows that recruiting a new customer always costs more than retaining a current customer, so the focus on customer loyalty makes sense. In my opinion, however, the focus is on the wrong part of the equation. It shouldn’t be entirely about how loyal the customer is to the company, it should also be about how loyal the company is to the customer.
If you’re a customer, you should, in my opinion anyway, be asking a few questions about those with whom you do business, questions beyond “do they have the lowest price?” or “can they ship things to me fast?”. Price and speed of delivery are important, no one denies that, but lowest price isn’t always the best choice and speed of shipments doesn’t mean a lot if the company treats you poorly. Every customer will, of course, have slightly different criteria for what makes one company a keeper and another not worth buying from, but I’d say, if the companies with whom you do business are showing these traits, you’ve probably got a company that will be as loyal to you as you are to it.
5 Traits of Loyal Companies
- They talk to you – They have a blog, or a Twitter account or a Facebook page, or send e-mail blasts, but the content isn’t always about selling you more product. They may try to educate, steer you toward good deals or help you get the most out of your current purchases, but the goal is always to help you do more, not get you to buy more.
- They’ll help you in an emergency – You need a cone of thread in a hurry. You just ruined your last tile and the customer wants their order tomorrow. When you’re really in need, a loyal company will do whatever possible to help.
- There are real people on the other end of the phone – Maybe you have a rep you always work with, or maybe there’s a team of customer service people who can take your call, but there’s always someone there to whom you can speak. The company may have automation to make call handling more fast and efficient, but they’ll also give you an easy way to speak to a real person.
- They’re a resource – No company, as much as most would hate to admit it, can be all things to all people. Loyal companies are the companies that will help you find someone who can do what you want, or sell you what you need, if it isn’t them.
- If they screw up, they make it right – Companies are run by humans, and humans make mistakes. A loyal company will do what they can to minimize the damage and to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again.