Building Customer Loyalty – ‘The Obligation Factor’


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It has always been one of the principles of customer service that if you treat your customers in the right way it will pay dividends in the end. The value of abiding to this principle however was succinctly demonstrated recently during a conversation with a friend.

The conversation (for those of you that know me) was unsurprisingly on the subject of cycling. My friend was explaining that after using a small local cycling retailer he had built a relationship with them. A relationship based upon great, personal service often delivered with helpful advice and guidance and the occasional discount.

The result of this customer service is that an emotional connection has been forged with the retailer. Now, at the point where he wanted to buy a new bike, (a major expense) my friend now felt obligated to support this local retailer even if it may cost a little more than buying from a major supplier. Considering buying from anywhere else as disloyal is the Holy Grail for any business, but in this instance it was the hard work, dedication and knowledge of members of staff at the cycle shop, combined with a desire to support local businesses which resulted in my friend wanting to pay a little extra for his purchase.

The situation got me thinking about how such a relationship could be built up without the face to face interaction present in the cycle shop. It is far from impossible, particularly with the channels at our disposal in the modern world. Great service, in the absence of a face to face meeting can be delivered equally effectively over the phone, using email and of course social media.

Ultimately, great customer service is based upon listening to what the customer wants and offering them something unexpected through providing knowledgeable advice and guidance. By doing this you give your customers a reason to be loyal and establish a personal relationship through presenting a human face. Interaction should be based on conversations with customers about the subjects they are interested in and should be carried out on the channels they prefer, not the ones which are most suitable for you.

Perform this interaction effectively and present a human, helpful face and price will not be the only factor which affects your customers’ buying decisions, loyalty and “The Obligation Factor” will also play a significant role.

Jason Elkins
Jason has two main roles at EWA, the primary being EWA's Sales and Marketing Manager. With assistance from other senior members of the EWA team, Jason is responsible for growing EWA's portfolio of clients through proactive marketing, lead generation and new business pitches. Jason also acts as Account Director for two of EWA's main clients; Wiltshire Farm Foods and Linden Homes, helping to formulate and deliver their on and offline CRM strategies and customer help lines


  1. Jason, your post is right on target! Companies like the small retail shop you describe provide excellent personalized service because that’s what they believe in. And, those organizations that value and appreciate their customers and show them that they are important will absolutely derive the benefits of building a loyal customer base over time. Companies that build strong relationships with their customers do make their customers feel guilty about purchasing products at another place. And, that’s a good thing! Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention


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