What I’m Thinking About: Loyalty

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


4 thoughts on “What I’m Thinking About: Loyalty”

  1. Interesting topic this week Mary Jane. I’m doing some gratitude research with a marketing expert and this past week he told me about 2 types of loyalty – behavioural loyalty and emotional (attitudinal) loyalty. He said, brands want attitudinal loyalty and that is what you describe here. He said behavioural loyalty only goes so far. Examples of behavioural loyalty are – I get my gas here because it’s on my way to work, I get my groceries here so I can get points, etc. He explained how emotional loyalty causes us to go the extra mile to do business with the company. Interestingly, we’re exploring how gratitude contributes to what you’ve identified in the examples in your post… emotional loyalty. Thanks again for the work you’re doing to make the phone an important part of business conversations… how would we have them without it?

    • This is fascinating, Steve. And it makes perfect sense. I have behavioural loyalty to Esso because of my points card and its proximity to my home, but there’s definitely no emotional loyalty. And it makes sense that there’s a connection between emotional loyalty and gratitude. Can’t wait to learn more about this from you. If you are interested … you could provide a Sunday blog post on this subject. Let me know! mj

  2. Hi Mary Jane,

    My dentist, my dry cleaner and my favourite cashier at Sobeys :-). King Cole tea (my favourite). I think it’s about how they make me feel, that they have my back and really care about people. Terry O’Reilly (CBC Under the Influence) has done a lot of work in this area (he’s a favourite of mine). CBC and Seaside FB are also radio stations I am loyal to.

    Thank you for another great post.
    Maureen Farmer


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