Monday, March 4, 2013

Earning vs. Buying Loyalty

Earning loyalty vs. Buying loyalty, which is better?  To me the answer is pretty obvious, but there are still many who don't get it.

Consider a soldier, hunkered in a fox hole as artillery explodes all around and gunfire cracks overhead.  His only chance for survival is the other man in the fox hole with him...the other set of eyes that watches his back.  Who would the soldier rather have in that fox hole with him?  A mercenary who is paid to be there, whose only relationship with the soldier is financial, or a buddy who has been with him through numerous battles, through thick and thin, whose relationship is based on mutual respect?

Consider businesses who enact "customer loyalty programs" which are little more than veiled marketing campaigns or coupons that attempt to buy loyalty.  Or the business who requires customers to sign multi-year contracts in order to hold loyalty ransom, while at the same time neglecting the foundation of service and customer relationships.  What is going to happen to these customers when they find a better deal, or complete their contract? 

They'll leave.  Deals are fickle.  They don't earn loyalty.  They just buy it momentarily until a different deal comes along. 

What would happen if companies, instead of looking for the next fickle deal themselves, earned loyalty by offering good products and services, and by treating their customers and employees well?  What would happen if respect was earned instead of bought?  What would happen if people looked at each other as people instead of numbers? Where would we be today?