It’s Army vs. Navy this weekend. It’s an annual football game between the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy. A national championship is not on the line; but pride and inter-service bragging rights are always at stake. Over thirty years ago as a Midshipman I pledged my loyalty to the Navy blue and gold. Then my son came along and decided to join the Army. He’s a veteran now who served in the 3rd Infantry Division and spent quite a bit of time in Iraq, and I couldn’t be more proud of his service. Loyalty created through an emotional service bond is powerful. How does your organization build loyalty and create emotional bonds?
Eight Steps to Blue & Gold Loyalty
· Brand: You need to start with a strong brand identity that your customers can identify with. Your brand must not only communicate a message, but also inform, motivate and deliver as promised. The better your brand is at keeping its promises, the better your brand is at being trusted.
· Learning Relationships: Organizations that implement learning relationships are better able to understand and anticipate a customer’s unique needs. Learning organizations understand that great customer experiences start with listening to the customer to learn instead of talking to the customer to sell. Customers in a learning relationship experience a heightened sense of vendor awareness and are more likely to be loyal because their vendor understands their needs.
· Use technology: To connect in positive and collaborative ways. Customer connections that engender loyalty deliver a seamless experience across channels and touch points while demonstrating integrity and interest.
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· Ensure and Empower: Ensure high quality customer interactions that demonstrate a caring attitude by empowering your employees to resolve problems. You can’t build loyalty if you don’t truly care about your customers.
· Great Service: Almost every customer has a service support need at some point. Use support incidents as an opportunity to solidify relationships. Providing excellent service and quick resolution can build customer trust.
· One view of the company: Despite the desires of corporate managers, the customer ultimately controls the relationship. If the customer is in control, don’t they need a 360 degree view of the company? Great customer experiences start when you make it easy for the customer to do business with you.
· Layers: Customers have layers, and relationship layers are built on trust and dialog over time. Customer loyalty requires the care and commitment to take the time, invest the money, and have the patience to grow the relationship.
· Dynamic real-time processes: Building relationships takes time; however, instant gratification has been a feature of our everyday lives for a long time. Give your customers their rewards now, and keep your promises on time.