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Posted August 22, 2001
Build Loyalty with Integrity Among Customers and Employees
Most sequels to business books merely add some more detail to the argument of the previous book. Loyalty Rules! is a happy exception to that circumstance. The Loyalty Effect is a fine and helpful book, but I prefer Loyalty Rules! because it is more practical and explores so many more dimensions of leadership and management. There is also new information in Loyalty Rules! about the economics of customer loyalty for doing business on the Internet. Many people take the financial incentive to keep customers longer as encouragement to employ all of the latest loyalty-building tools (from data-mining to loyalty incentive programs). Mr. Reichheld is correct that encouraging people to be loyal while treating them with bad service, poor products, or disloyalty in return will not work. He argues instead for a values-based orientation that will remind many people of the principles in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The essence of the concept for creating loyalty is: 'Show your partners [stakeholders like customers and employees] that loyalty is a logical strategy for the pursuit of self-interest when self-interest is defined in the context of lifelong success.' His six principles for building loyalty are paraphrased as follows: (1) Always play to provide wins for the stakeholder as well as for the company. (2) Be selective about the employees and customers you take on and encourage to stay with you, so that they enhance your cooperative system. (3) Keep your approach to being loyal (and earning loyalty in return) simple. For example, 'Do right by the customer' was an actionable motto for Intuit when bugs cropped up in its tax software. (4) Reward providing the right results (which usually means adjusting the way your compensate and motivate people in your organization). (5) Listen, learn, act, and explain (communication is a two-way street if you are to improve and be reponsive). (6) Begin with how you want to be remembered when you decide what to say and do today, and then preach with your words and actions to support that end. The book has fairly well developed examples from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Vanguard Group, Harley-Davidson, Cisco Systems, Dell, Northwestern Mutual, MBNA, Chick-Fil-A, SAS, USAA, the New York Times, the U.S. Marines, and Intuit. There are also references to companies like ServiceMaster, Southwest Airlines, SAS (the computer software company) and other service organizations. The book and the book's web site contain loyalty questionnaires you can use to diagnose how your organization is doing. At the end of chapters 3-8 are directions for how to use the answers you get to direct your next steps. One big surprise in the book is that it emphasizes the dual idea of having an economic advantage and then using some of the economic benefits of that advantage over competitors to provide better results in ways that will build loyalty. The concept is that you turn a temporary economic advantage into a permanent one by building loyalty. You are directed to another Bain book, Profit from the Core, as the source for how to achieve that initial economic advantage by focusing on your core strength. Clearly, some of the examples seemed to have as much to do with superior economic advantage (partly helped by employee loyalty) as they did with building customer loyalty. That was especially true of Dell, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I was left with the question of what to do if your economic advantage erodes faster than you can building an economic advantage from loyalty. The book suggests that all of this applies to other stakeholders like vendors, partners, lenders, shareholders, the communities you serve, and so forth. Only vendors show up in any specific discussions. It looked to me like much of the advice would work better for a private company or governmental operation (as some of these are) than for a public company with 'what have you done for me latWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 1, 2010
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