What’s the Real Key to Customer Loyalty?


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Have you ever watched the television series I Dream of Jeannie? If you’re unfamiliar with the plotline here’s a refresher: the sitcom stars a magical genie and illustrates the humorous mishaps of daily life in the human world. Genies, magic lamps… all this sounds bit hokey. Recently, though, Morton’s Steakhouse really did make a wish come true for well-known PR man Peter Shankman. His wish? A porterhouse steak. The magic lamp? Twitter.

After a long day on the road, Shankman decided to tweet at the steakhouse giant, “Hey @Mortons, can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks.” Upon landing, Shankman was greeted by a Morton’s representative in a tuxedo with a porterhouse steak and several side items. Was it magic?

Shankman refers to this bedazzling experience as a publicity stunt – and a publicity stunt it was. While there is nothing inherently wrong with such stunts, Shankman makes no reference to consistency. Would Morton’s Steakhouse really make a free steak delivery to any of its customers, or only those with 100,000 Twitter followers like Shankman (who has a very loyal following)?

Monitoring what your customers are saying about you with spectacular customer relations management is a routine aspect of any good business. At Beyond Philosophy, however, we condone digging deeper and considering how consistently your customers have compelling – magical – experiences.

Publicity stunts are not the bread and butter that drive customer loyalty over time. To build value with your customers, consistency is key. When I write about loyalty in any of my books, I outline that it’s defined by relationship strength, perceived alternatives, and critical episodes.

Once Morton’s set the precedent of delivering steak to a loyal customer at the airport, it created an unrealistic standard for its customers. The take away is that such stunts make entertaining stories, but much like the fictional genie in I Dream of Jeannie, at some point they disappear. Loyalty, by contrast, means building value for your customers for life.

What Next?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. For Morton’s Steakhouse, it is possible that they could drive more customers in for that “publicity stunt”. As long as their customers receive excellent service then that would be the key itself for customer loyalty, you need to take care of your customers to gain more. Even if it takes Morton’s to deliver that steak at the airport, then why not?


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