Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Putting Personal Concern into a Loyalty Model

In the previous blog a thought model of customer loyalty was posed that consisted of three components; namely, ability, integrity and personal concern. The blog closed with the note that this blog would provide further information about the concept of personal concern.

While there may be many ways to describe personal concern, the following four components are suggested as necessary.
1. In the customer relationship one of the most important aspects of having a personal concern is to be able to restrain your desire to speak. The concept of "holding your tongue" when a customer is either asking a question, offering a suggestion or issuing a complaint tells the customer that he/she is being respected. One of the fastest ways to disrespect a customer is to interrupt when the customer is talking.
2. The second aspect is the idea of putting the customer first. One might call this meekness. By showing the customer that the "the customer comes first" is demonstrable evidence that the customer really is important. Too often, employees will demonstrate their knowledge to the customer in ways that may actually be saying "you are not very smart and you really need me." One of the best approaches to building loyalty is to be humble even though the customer may know very little or may be totally wrong.
3. The third aspect and equally important as the first two is listening. We can often hold our tongue and be humble without listening. Until you focus on listening to the customer you will not really know what the situation is all about and therefore will not be able to provide the best solution to the customer's concern.
4. Finally if you have "held your tongue", remained humble and listened the final step is to help. You cannot provide the best help until you have been successful in the first three aspects.

Each of these four aspects of dealing with a customer builds loyalty because in each step trust is being created and with that trust will come loyalty.

The bottom line is that most loyalty models focus on the first two components of loyalty; namely, ability and integrity. Without the third component the loyalty is built on sand. The rock on which to build customer loyalty is personal concern.

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