Seth Godin recently wrote a cool piece on Loyalty. So what is it? He writes, “loyalty is what we call it when someone refuses a momentarily better option.” When your customer could take their business elsewhere, and they don’t … that is loyalty. Sure, customer satisfaction is nice … but, ultimately it’s empty. Your business won’t thrive because the customers are merely satisfied … it will thrive because they are loyal to you in the face of your competition. In my experience, loyalty is rooted firmly in trust. As Jay likes to say; trust is a difficult thing to build, and a really easy thing to lose.
IT Weapons has always touted loyalty as one of our pillars … both internal loyalty to the team and loyalty to our clients and their business goals. Loyalty—along with the kindred concept of trust—is what underwrites our tag line: isn’t it time you felt safe? The customer feels safe, which means they trust us … and when they trust us, we’ve earned their loyalty. Pretty straightforward. But do they trust us merely because we always do a great job with competitive pricing? Not quite. Trust isn’t built on the moments when you do a great job (that’s expected in any worthwhile business relationship) … Trust (and so loyalty) is really based on how you handle screw ups, service disruptions, and miscommunication.
For me, this lesson was recently cast into sharp relief … Consider this exchange (paraphrased slightly) that I had with a long-time client last week when I asked him about loyalty.
Hey Ted, you know I get a dozen or more calls a week from people telling me they can do a better job than our current IT VAR (Value Added Reseller). There are promises of free services, trial periods, groundbreaking products, and even outright bribes. They parade their alleged financial stability, they name-drop accounts, and showcase their credentials. I’ve never once considered taking them up on their offers. I ignore them because your team makes me feel safe; I can focus on my job, helping my company do what we do. [I’m serious … our client said this] Now, we both know that over the years we’ve had a few challenges with IT Weapons … But, it is your team’s reaction to those challenges that commands our loyalty. You guys admit when there are issues and always give me your action plan and then make it happen quickly. You guys deserve my business.
I got a few goose bumps. Before this meeting (and before reading Seth’s article), I honestly thought of their loyalty in terms of us delivering excellent solutions with ideal TCO reductions as promised. Sure, excellence is a pre-requisite for trust and loyalty, but it’s not the whole story. What IT Weapons does really well is not just delivering great solutions … we stand behind the solution … protecting the clients’ trust in us when trouble arises. That is how we make them feel safe.