The word “loyalty” has become strongly associated with marketing activities. There are loyalty cards and programs. There are special offers and prizes. Loyalty is something businesses strive to capture, yet, as illustrated in a recent post, don’t always know how to retain. Perhaps that’s because loyalty thrives beyond our marketing efforts.
What, exactly, is loyalty? How do we inspire loyalty from our customers and what inspires us to be loyal?
The word “loyalty” comes from 15th century Old French, meaning fidelity, honesty, good quality. By 1897 it was defined as “a matter of both principle and sentiment, conduct and feeling; it implies enthusiasm”.
With this in mind, I began to think about where I am loyal … and why.
- Dr. Mariette Chiasson has been my dentist since I moved to Halifax 21 years ago. She is cheerful, kind and generous. She’s shared with me stories of her son, her mom and dad … all of her family. Whenever a dental procedure has involved a bit more care and concern, she’s given me her personal phone numbers and diligently stayed in touch. She’s interested in my work and my family. Oh yes, and she’s an excellent dentist!
- Spirit Spa and my hairdresser Claude Comeau. I’m not exactly sure when I first sat in Claude’s chair; I’m guessing it’s been 13 years. We know a lot about each other’s families and hobbies and ambitions. We share frustrations, disappointments and successes. Our time together contains a lot of laughter, empathy and enthusiasm. Often we each come away with a new idea for a meal, a project or something to enjoy online. I’m so grateful to Claude. (And to think the first hairdresser I visited in Halifax thought I should be a blonde!)
- My business bank, TD Canada Trust, at 95 Portland Street in Dartmouth. This has been my branch since I started The Phone Lady in 2006 and I continue to receive tremendous support from the staff. In fact, when I go there, I feel a bit like Norm from Cheers. Almost everyone does know my name and they ask about my family and my business. They do everything possible to provide me with valuable information and excellent service. I can’t imagine banking anywhere else.
- My husband, David, has been taking cars to Cox’s Auto Clinic for over 3o years, originally working with the father and now the son. They always take his phone calls, always “fit him in” and welcome him when he drops by with a question. The work they do on our vehicles is always excellent.
I could keep going, but based on this short list, it’s easy to see that loyalty comes from more than service excellence, special pricing, stamps on a card. It comes from the relationship, from the personal connection. Loyalty isn’t captured because of a well-designed system. It grows – and is retained – because of how we feel.
Who has captured your loyalty? Why? And how do you capture and retain the loyalty of your customers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.