Question-Week ending Sunday 07/11/04:
What are your feelings about loyalty today, from your point of view as a CONSUMER of products or services (business or personal)? Please read our Pre-Poll Commentary before taking this poll.
Our 24th keyword in our poll series on moods and emotions is LOYALTY. For the purpose of this poll we will describe the meaning of LOYALTY as "an emotional feeling of obligation or allegiance."
If you were to create your opinions based on what is conveyed in many popular books, periodicals, essays or TV shows, you might be led to believe that LOYALTY has disappeared from the face of the earth. But deep down inside, I seem to think we all know better. Because we still have a burning desire to be loyal to the people, products and institutions that have earned our allegiance and respect.
Because of the proliferation of choices we have for everything today, it might be more difficult to earn and maintain one's loyalty in the 21st century. This places a higher value on loyalty.
When my mother and father were alive, they were the ultimate loyalists as consumers. Mom would buy the same brands of products for decades. When I shopped at the supermarket for her, I had to make sure I came home with the EXACT brand she specified or she would be very disappointed. If the store ran out of a specified brand, they would lose the sale to these loyalists.
Dad shopped at the same meat market and had his hair cut at the same barber until both of them retired from their business. His loyalty spanned for decades. He would never consider "cheating" on his favorite vendor by trying someone else's products or service. As long as they were fair and treated him right!
The type of loyalty described above might be rare today, however it still exists among the members of "The Greatest Generation." So what happened to break down this loyal culture? Here's my take on the subject of loyalty - at least with regard to consumer products and services:
The old vendors of products and services were CONSISTENT! They provided QUALITY products at a FAIR PRICE and VALUED THEIR CUSTOMERS. Sounds simple? It really was. However, with mergers and acquisitions, and the advent of CARING smaller companies becoming UNCARING giants, it's almost impossible for vendors today to be CONSISTENT over decades of doing business.
Management changes, policy changes and philosophy changes make CHANGE rather than CONSISTENCY the norm today. In businesses like airlines, hotels and even buying a computer from Dell - the price of goods and services change by the minute. The expectation of a FAIR PRICE seems unrealistic in these cases. Also in the past you felt like a VALUED CUSTOMER when you needed help. Today, when you need assistance from larger companies you are usually treated like a nuisance to them. In most cases you are likely to be totally frustrated by their automated phone system, having to wait on hold, or having to speak to a person stationed in another country who is difficult to understand.
In contrast to the above frustrations of dealing with large companies, there's still hope for loyalty. Just a few years ago before selling my company, I experienced the greatest loyalty from my customers in the automotive parts business. My company always tried to EXCEED our customer's expectations as we showered them with LOVE and RESPECT. We sold our products at FAIR prices and were CONSISTENT in every area of our business. Thus, my company was living proof that it's still possible to build loyalty in this day and age and earn a fair profit. You need a mindset, a mission and a plan to do so and then execute flawlessly. I believe a customer's Loyalty is worth every ounce of the energy and resources it takes to earn it and maintain it. What do you think?
Let us know in this week's poll, your beliefs about LOYALTY in this day and age. This poll will end on Sunday 07/11/04, when the results will be displayed.
Please take a moment to share this poll with another caring person you know by clicking on the "e-mail a friend icon" below. Our polls and commentaries are enjoyed by hundreds of individuals weekly, with previous polls featured in the top ten of search engines like Google and Yahoo.
- 51% of voters chose "I have SOME loyalty, only to companies, products and services that earn it!"
- 19% of voters chose "I would like to be MORE loyal but have difficulty!"
- 16% of voters chose "I am LOYAL TO MANY companies, products and services!"
- 12% of voters chose "I buy the BEST products or services, regardless of price or loyalty!"
- 02% of voters chose "I buy the LEAST EXPENSIVE products or services regardless of quality or loyalty!"
- 00% of voters chose "I have NO loyalty to any company, product or service!"
My guess about this week's poll far exceed my expectations. Loyalty is still alive and well in the mind of some consumers. Especially in our small sample of voters who are probably composed of middle age and baby boomers plus! In reality, I really have no idea who votes in these polls. But judging from the hundreds of people who sign up for membership - or from those who e-mail me about liking this website - they tend to be professional, retired or mature in nature.
I think it behooves every business who strives to be profitable and long lasting - to pay close attention to their loyalty factor. Companies who do what's necessary to attract and keep loyal customers do not have to be the cheapest game in town. They will attract better quality customers who won't sell you down the river for a quarter.
Personally, I travel 65 miles one way to buy fresh pretzels hot out of the oven from Federal Pretzel; or fresh cannoli's from a baker named Termini's, every time I visit Philadelphia. Since I don't go often, I'll buy a box of 56 pretzels and plenty cannoli's to treat others with "great tasting food." Both of these establishments have been treating loyal customers to their fine products for over 80 years. Both of these companies have impressed me for over 47 years and their quality and consistency has never changed. I am among the thousands of loyal customer's they have impressed - who live all over the country now - and will be a customer for life as long as they stay CONSISTENT.
Creating loyalty is an art. It takes time to earn it and a great deal of patience and effort to maintain it. But it delivers one of the sweetest prizes for both a great business and its loyal customers.