What is There to Be Loyal to?

It was my birthday recently and during the course of it I got birthday cards. I want to share one that I got from one of my sons:

To Papa

I wish you a happy birthday. Love you lots and thank you for all the things you have done for me over the years especially taking me back and forward to college.

Thank you for being a great, caring and loving papa.

As I read this card I got present to the “…especially taking me back and forward to college.” Why is it this matters so much to him? Why is it that this leaves him feeling cared for and loved?

To make sense of this it is worth pointing out that my son is responsible for getting himself to college and back home. Most of the time (90%+) this works out great. And there are times it does not. There are times that the bus does not turn up on time. He rings me and if I can do so then I drop everything and take him to college. There are times when there is simply is not enough time to get from college to work. When this is likely to occur he asks me if I would be willing to collect him from college and drop him off at his place of work. And, when I am working from home, I say yes and help him out. There is the odd occasion he gets up late and asks me to take him to college and I take him to college and start the day 15 minutes later than I had planned.

This got me thinking about business and customer loyalty. What is it that businesses do to cultivate customer loyalty? What is it that businesses do beyond ‘business as usual’ to generate goodwill with their customers? Where do business go the extra mile when it matters to the customer?

I want to share with you with this assertion by Matt Watkinson in his book The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences:

Customers churn between suppliers to find the best deal, not because we are all extremely price sensitive, but because there is nothing to be loyal to.

Let’s look beyond customers and consider employees and ask the same question. What is that businesses do to cultivate employee engagement and loyalty? Where and in what ways do businesses go the extra mile to enrich the lives of their employees? What is it that businesses do to generate goodwill with their employees?

I say let’s not stop here. Let’s look further and consider suppliers and ask the same question.

As I reflect on the question of loyalty and ask what is the equivalent of “…especially taking me back and forward to college.” I find no compelling answers. Yes, there are a handful of businesses that come to mind. And, they are only a handful.

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