Loyalty

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How do we establish loyalty?

Once we have someone’s loyalty how do we keep it?

From the outside looking in it seems easy. When someone or some company screws up I feel like it’s common sense what they did wrong.

When I screw up, while I hope I see it, I don’t know that I always realize what I did wrong. So, if I ever establish your loyalty and somehow lose it, please let me know: (352) 577-0173 or KarolGajda AT Gmail.com. Sometimes I’m an idiot. ;)

Within the past 2 weeks one company has lost my loyalty forever and another has me wanting to do business with them over and over. There’s no need in focusing on the negative, but I need to tell you about the company that earned my loyalty.

How To Earn A Customer’s Loyalty

On January 17 I purchased a MetroSafe 300 computer bag for my new laptop (updated Ultra Light Packing List coming soon!) from Luggage.com.

I received the package on January 22.

When I opened it the bag looked much smaller than it should have been. “What is this? This has to be the wrong bag. It can’t fit a laptop.”

So I called Luggage.com (i.e. CSN Stores) and explained what happened. The customer service rep immediately started the process to get the correct bag to me. “Ugh, I’m so sorry, let me get this straightened out for you.”

A very short time later…

“OK, it’s all set, it’ll ship out in 24-48 hours, probably Monday of next week.”

“Thank you so much! There’s just one problem. I need the bag by Wednesday because I’m leaving the country for an undetermined length of time. Do you think you can do anything to help me out?”

“Oh wow, yeah, this bag won’t get there by that time with this shipping option. Can you hold on just a few seconds?”

“Sure!”

About a minute later…

“OK, I have it set to ship Next Day Air and you WILL receive it Tuesday or Wednesday depending on when it leaves the warehouse. I put a note to the warehouse to ask them to ship it urgently so they’ll probably ship it Monday. I would call them Monday morning to make sure they do that, but I don’t come in until Wednesday. What I’ll do is have a colleague contact them Monday. So you’re all set.”

“Wow, really? Thank you for doing that!”

I received the bag last Tuesday.

Let’s break this down some more.

Luggage.com (i.e. CSN Stores) actually LOST money on me. I’d never purchased anything from them before and only spent $100 (with shipping) for the MetroSafe 300. Sure, it was their fault for sending me the wrong bag in the first place, but they stepped it up when it mattered.

CSN Stores has empowered their customer service reps to make shit happen and I will definitely buy from them again when the time comes. In addition, knowing that they rock, you’re probably more inclined to shop with them too. :)

Why Loyalty Matters

If you want fleeting relationships, loyalty doesn’t matter. If you want lasting friendships, loyalty matters.

If you want to write for yourself, loyalty doesn’t matter. If you want a successful blog/book/comic/etc, loyalty matters.

If you want to get fat, loyalty doesn’t matter. If you want to be healthy, loyalty (to your body and your routine) matters.

If you’re looking to make money, loyalty doesn’t matter.

If want to build a business, there might not be anything more important.

Your turn. How do you feel about loyalty? Have there been any extraordinary people or companies that you’d like to share with the community? Please let us know in the comments…



31 COMMENTS

  1. Karol, after your glowing post, I bet Luggage.com will be forever loyal to you too!
    You may end up with a suitcase full of MetroSafe 300 computer bags. Although I’d request a bright red leather carry case for that adorable puppy in your photo!

    I think loyalty is a natural result of integrity. We are here on this beautiful Earth to uphold each other. If you consistently put people first in your business or in your personal life, you foster loyalty and committment. When someone goes out of their way for you, appreciates your needs, acknowledges your concerns, you feel like a real person — not just a customer or acquaintance. Then you want to give back to them. And strangely, you also want to pass along that kindess to someone else. If your customer service rep at Luggage.com reads your post, I bet she/he will feel all gushy inside and be even more motivated to go the extra mile!

    • Hi Barrie,

      You’re dead on: loyalty and integrity go hand in hand. And I should probably e-mail the Luggage.com customer service to let them know about the post. Thanks for spurring that idea!

      Karol

      P.S. That’s not my dog. :)

  2. I never get tired of reading about a positive, detailed customer experience. I run an e-commerce website and less than 1% of my products have to be returned. And when they do, I personally communicate with the customer.

    I tell them that I will be paying for return shipping as promised. I’m just as gracious with these customers as I am with my regular ones. I want everyone to come away happy, even the one’s that feel disappointed at first. The shock at having someone take such good care of them usually leaves them saying ‘I’ll buy from you again’ or ‘I’ll recommend you for sure,’ makes the loss worth every lost penny. I am also the owner and handle every aspect of the business.

    • Hi David,

      Awesome! Yes, I’m sure the fact that you communicate with customers who make returns helps your store considerably.

      Thanks for sharing.
      Karol

  3. Excellent point.

    More businesses need to realize that people are more likely to spread the word when it comes to negative experiences than with positive experiences. If more companies really understood this, they would do more to make customers happy, even if it means taking an occasional loss. Sometimes you just have to treat the loss as an investment.

  4. I tell people about my auto mechanic all the time.

    It was about 10 years ago, that I had my car towed to his place because it would not start. An hour later he called to tell me that I would need a new motor. He found a rebuild motor, and called back to tell me that parts and labor will be $650. I okay’d the work. He said it’d be ready in two or three days.

    Two hours later he called to tell me that the car was ready and running, and I could come pick it up.

    Huh? He said when he started to take the motor out, he noticed a couple of teeth missing on the timing belt, so he replaced it and and started the car and it works now. It wasn’t the motor after all, just a bad timing belt. total damages: $80

    He could have kept the car for 2 days, changed the timing belt, cleaned the engine to make it look like a rebuild engine (not that I would know the difference), and kept the $650 which I had approved. He not only has my loyalty, he has my referral business as well (with the whole story being repeated every time).

    Oh yes, earning customer loyalty is a must if you’re running a business.

    Rasheed

    • That is an awesome story Rasheed!

      I love hearing stuff like that. Especially when it comes to something like auto repair since most people have no clue what’s going on and it’s easy to get taken advantage of.

      Karol

  5. Hey Karol.

    I’m looking at getting the same bag for my 13.3 inch laptop. Hopefully it fits fine, lemme know how the bag goes for you.

    There have been some companies I have great loyalty to and people as well.

    Amazon has actually done very well in situations where I requested a refund for a price chance. Backcountry.com and REI has the best return policy and great customer service. ACM Wallets (google it) sent me 3 times my order (I ordered one item) because I told them I loved their products and that my friend sat on my money clip and broke it before.

    For people, there are definitely people I find myself loyal to. Recently a special person has come into my life, and I can feel my energy and everything working toward making it an amazing life.

    Loyalty is very important to me. If someone else is loyal to me, I find myself loyal to them, the same applies for a company. Just like I’m loyal to Karol and his awesome writings and goals.

    • Hey Bobby,

      Thank you for adding to the conversation.

      Great to know about BackCountry and REI. I had a good experience with BackCountry customer service before as well.

      As far as MetroSafe 300: it’s bigger than I would like (my laptop is smaller than a 13.3 inch laptop), but it’s a great bag.

      Karol

  6. Hey Karol,

    Wouldn’t it be great if we got customer service like that from all business we interact with! Great examples of loyalty in other contexts as well.

    Mick

  7. Oh! Oh! I have an example! My day job is working for a car dealership in my small town (30,000 people). We are owned by a corporation that is based out of Toronto that owns many dealerships in the big city and they’re huge into real estate and other things. I say this to establish the big-shooter status of the president who is also the son of the man who started the business from just one dealership, decades ago.

    He was up for a meeting a few months ago and in talking about customer service, mentioned a bedding place in our town where he’d bought a simple pillow. He was amazed that even though he’d only bought a pillow, he’d received a personally written thank you card from the sales lady at the store.

    That alone would bring him out of his way to buy any future bedding from this store. When we explained that we’d all received a similar card from the same sales lady for previous purchases and that any one who bought anything off of her received a similar card, he was amazed.

    A man with literally millions of dollars of buying power has loyalty to a small town bedding store that is 80km (50 miles) away from his home simply because the sales person took the time to send a personalized thank-you card. The store is ‘Sleep Country Canada’ in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada by the way – I have nothing to gain for the plug…

    At our dealership, I’ve found that doing something as simple as installing a wiper blade for free for someone will bring them back as a loyal customer for the rest of their services later on.

    Though not blogging related examples, understand that the littlest things can make a huge difference and we always have to be thinking ahead as to what those little things might be.

    • Thank you Tom. That is a great story!

      Like you mentioned, simple things can go a long way to building loyalty. This should be common sense for small (and big) business owners, but unfortunately it isn’t.

  8. Hey Karol

    Whenever I get great service I log it on http://www.HelloPeter.com. It’s a really cool way of letting suppliers, their staff and the world at large know about the good stuff. You can complain there too, but I try to avoid that unless I come across a charlotan.

    I can’t wait to hear more about India (where are you going to be writing about your adventures over there?)

    Cheers, Angela :-)

    • Thank you for that link Angela!

      I probably won’t write about India too much, just like I didn’t write about Australia/New Zealand too much. When inspiration strikes me to write about India I will. I am writing about the guitar building experience, but I haven’t finalized where that will appear

      Karol

  9. Hi Karol,

    Isn’t it strange in a way, how easy it is for a company to stand out? Treat your customer(s) like royalty and earn their loyalty for the long haul.

    It makes so much sense, yet, unfortunately it’s the exception, most of the time.

    P.S.: 3 months ago I ordered a guitar instructional DVD from truefire.com
    In general, a regular shipment from the US to Austria takes from 1-3 weeks (depending on customs).

    After 3 weeks, when I still had not received my package, truefire.com immediately rushed me a replacement that arrived after only 4 days, activated a bonus month of all-inclusive access to their video streams AND let me even keep the initial package when that arrived another 2 weeks later. :-)

    • Yup, it’s so easy to stand out.

      Thanks for sharing your story Marko. I’ve heard of TrueFire, but have never purchased anything…yet. ;)

  10. Wow…. you Americans still have that thing they call ‘customer service’!

    I’m pretty sure we ran out of that with the introduction of the supermarket in the ’60s…. ;)

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

    • haha…well, no, customer service is pretty much dead. That’s why companies that do have great customer service get blog posts written about them. :)

  11. It’s good to read a success story from the customer service front and as you mentioned, training employees to actually make real-time decisions beyond “corporate policy” is what made this situation possible. Great to see that some companies are still getting it right.

  12. I do think bad news travels faster than good, why is that? Just as a person will remain loyal to a company or person who will do them right, we are more likely to buy on the recomendation of a friend! I work at one of the most recognized companies in the world. We have the reputation for excellence and it takes a long time to build and maintain that image in the eye of the public. More is spent on image and building relationships with this company than you would believe! That is why I am loyal to Karol. He delivers good value! thanks

    • Thanks Randall! I appreciate that. :) (And I’d like to know what company you’re talking about, but I understand that you may not be able to share it.)

  13. Hi Karol!
    I am a huge fan of great customer service. I would rather use the worst product with the best customer service behind it than the best product with poor customer service. Any company the give me the level of service you got from Luggage.com is on my “buy from them first” list.
    Great article. Hope your enjoying India?

    • Hey J,

      Yeah, India is sweet.

      I’m not sure I would use the worst product with the best customer service over the best product and worst customer service. Actually, I know I wouldn’t in most cases. Not that I would use the “best product” though. :)

      Karol

  14. I actually wrote a vaguely similar post recently. I work for a dog walking company as a dog walker, and I have seen them lose client after client because they don’t empower their employees to go outside the company guidelines at all for a client, even if it means potentially losing that client. It’s an idiotic way to run a company, and you hit it on the head with your statement that you had an awesome experience because CSN lets their employees “make things happen”. I think that’s a key in any business.

    If you’re interested, here’s the post in question: http://www.driftingfocus.com/blogs/?p=6288

    • Ahh, that sucks about your dog walking company Kelsey! Maybe you should send the owner a link to this article? :) More small business people need to step up their games if they want to grow.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Karol

      • Haha. Maybe I will after I quit, which will be soon. I can’t stand working for a company that essentailly requires that I give poor customer service, as I feel that nobody wins in those situations.

        My favourite quote from my post:

        “I explained to my supervisor that this, and all the previous complaints the company had about me, were the result of me providing better service than is required of me, and that I was frustrated that I was essentially being punished for going above and beyond what is required of me. The response? “At UnNamed PetCare, we don’t go above and beyond our services.”

        Well, I’m glad to know that the mediocrity has been institutionalized!”

        • Kelsey, I have no response to that except “WOW!” haha I wonder what can be done to educate small business owners about this type of thing?

          • I think small business owners often behave this way out of fear. Fear that going above and beyond will actually *gasp* make their customers expect a higher level of service than they want to provide (which just goes to further my opinion that services aren’t actually about service, they’re about making money). Fear that if they give their employees an inch of autonomy that they will take a mile. Fear that someone will actually hold them to their promise to provide quality service.

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