I think I learn more about what to do and what not to do from eating out at restaurants more than just about anywhere else. I was recently at a local restaurant and had a good meal, good service and the check wasn’t outrageous. I was about to leave when the manager came by our table and asked if we were satisfied with everything during the meal. I told her we were. She said “Great. We’ll see you next time,” and she left with a smile on her face headed over to the next table, I assume to ask the same question.
What I didn’t tell you is the restaurant is one of several of this type in Macon and is the one that is furthest from my home. We happened to be out that way and decided to eat there. But, in the mind of this manager, I suspect she thinks we will be back very soon as they “satisfied” us. Is that really the measure they should be focused on?
I recently read an article about the difference between client satisfaction and client loyalty. Satisfaction is how well you fulfilled someone’s wishes or expectations in the current transaction. I expected the staff to be pleasant, the order to be right, the food to taste good and the price to reflect what was stated on the menu. In the current transaction, they satisfied my expectations. Loyalty is a feeling of attachment, affection and devotion to someone or something. My satisfaction at this restaurant in no way gave me a sense of loyalty. I really don’t care if we go back there next week, next month or next year. The next time we want to eat that type of food, I would probably go to a place that I have a coupon for or is closer to where I am at the time.
So, as a way to measure your business, what matters more– Satisfaction or Loyalty? As we all know, no one hits it out of the park every time they come to bat. We all strive for it and we all work hard to do it more times than no,t but no matter how good you are you, will strike out every now and again. You need loyalty so that people will stick with you in those instances. It is also loyalty that makes people go out of their way to do business with you and/or tell others about you.
If you recall, I have talked at great lengths about my disappointment when El Azteca in Macon closed. It wasn’t the closest restaurant to me. It wasn’t a place that had great deals and, while the food was good, it wasn’t special or unique. I went there because I had made friends there, made memories there and invested part of myself there. I was loyal to a fault. In fact, I was loyal to such a degree, I am still talking about them more than a year after they closed.
What does it take to earn loyalty like that from people? I believe it takes a personal investment on your part. Whether you are a business owner or just dealing with people in your personal life, you have people that you can count on. I am willing to bet you invested in each of these people in one way or another. To do this I think you have to follow part of Bob Burg’s 5 Rules of a Go-Giver. You have to build value based on how much more you give than take and you have to give of yourself (time and energy) as it is the most valuable thing you have. Also, your influence (a product of loyalty) is determined by how much you put the interests of others first.
Some of you might say a restaurant or a retail store doesn’t have enough time or interaction with you to do these things. I argue those are the ones that need to find ways to do it better than a business that has a lot of interaction over a long period of time because, if they can build that loyalty with their clients, the return on their investment will be huge.
So what am I talking about doing?
Maybe you truly listen to your clients and understand what they need instead of focusing on what you want to sell.
Maybe you refer a client to someone who does something great that you only do OK because you know they need it done well.
Maybe you find a way to exceed expectations on a transaction in a way the client didn’t expect. You might do this not by doing something for less or for free but by being better or more efficient than was expected.
Taking time to truly know the people you work with and what they care about is an immeasurable skill. I am not talking about putting birthdates into your contact list so that you can have an automated service send a card on your behalf (sorry banks, this doesn’t mean anything to me). Instead, take the time to either call or write a note that is personal and sincere. One of the greats at this is Andy Watson here in Macon. I never expect to hear from him but he always seems to hear about things that are happening in my life and contacts me from time to time to comment on them. I am not even a client of his firm! So while I think client satisfaction is important, client loyalty is what you build a business on.
So were you satisfied with this article? What do you do to ensure you are building loyalty both personally and professionally? You never know when you will need it.
Don’t forget to check out our Infinity Man learning series for the next great educational event (And some just for fun ones too like our March Madness outing).