An Ounce of Loyalty is Worth a Pound of Cleverness


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“There is only one boss. The Customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton, Walmart

The world is moving towards quantification of customers, quantifying every aspect of customer experience however great success stories still stems from the fact how your customers feel about your product. We can easily define customer loyalty as a metric of success, but sometimes it makes more sense to think of it as a feeling. At a 2011 business conference, Jason Sadler, founder of and a highly creative marketer related an anecdote about how Best Buy had helped him find the right flat-screen television. (Now the example might be a little dated but I think most of us can relate to Sadler as his experience holds importance now than ever before)

Apparently his living room had unusual lighting and dimensions, and he didn’t really know what parameters were important, so he tweeted out an appeal. “Anyone know anything about flat-screen televisions?” He soon received a reply from Best Buy asking him what the dimensions of his room were, and then where the light came from in the room—what side of the room were the windows on, and how big were they? After a number of such back-and-forth tweets, Best Buy recommended a particular type of television for him.

This, Sadler said, was amazing. He had been completely sold by a series of Twitter interactions. So he went to the Best Buy store and found the television that had been recommended to him. However, as he was in the store, prepared to buy, he decided to use his smart phone to search online for the same model, and guess what? He found it on Amazon for a lower price. What should he do? What would you have done?

Although his conscience pained him, Sadler said, he elected to save the money and bought the product from Amazon. But he tweeted back to the Best Buy folks to let them know, and their message back to him was something like “well, we’re glad we could help. Maybe next time…”

Ever since, however, as Sadler related this story to the business conference, he has looked for every excuse imaginable to patronize Best Buy. He goes to the Best Buy store for routine things, even when it’s out of his way. He recommends Best Buy to friends who are in the market for electronics. And tells this story everywhere he goes.

So my question to you is, did Best Buy benefit or not from their interaction with Sadler? Was it stupid or smart for them to spend time simply helping a customer find the right product to meet his need? The fact is they lost the sale in the end, right?

Yes, and they lost it for the same reason many other brick-and-mortar retailers are losing sales to online companies—because the world is now completely transparent to customers armed with smart phones and connected 24-7 to the internet. Why shouldn’t a customer simply find the lowest price before buying a product? After all, in this kind of immediate buying situation, the products being compared are virtually identical. They are probably mass-produced by the same company at the same plant, so if one is even a dollar cheaper than the other, then that’s a dollar in the customer’s own pocket.

But if this is your entire perspective, then you are missing a key point. Because in the process of giving Jason Sadler advice, just helping him to figure out what particular product would be right for him, Best Buy also created a bond. Even though the interactions were entirely via Twitter, Jason felt closer to Best Buy. He felt an obligation. It wasn’t a legal or contractual obligation, but a social one. It was just a feeling.

No matter what your business is, this is the feeling you want your customers to have about you. If your customers have a genuine affection for you, if they simply want you to succeed as a business, then – ultimately – it’s more likely you will.

Maybe genuine customer loyalty isn’t measured just in dollars and cents, but in feelings and emotions

At the end of the day, as a wise soul once said:

“An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.”

Whats your take? Leave a comment

Rohit Yadav
Axtria Inc
Rohit Yadav is a customer experience evangelist helping companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and generate insights to improve their customer experience. Rohit is a regular writer on technology, analytics and customer centricity for various leading forums like KDnuggets, Data Science Central, CX Journey, Analytics India Magazine, and


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