A single word in the English dictionary, but with such powerful meaning: Loyalty

Not only powerful, but desperately important, both in friendship and in business.

Imagine

Can you imagine not knowing if you’re your friend will be your friend tomorrow? I have often written or spoke about the importance of friendship and real friends. Equally in tough times, showing loyalty to a small local business is so very important.

I am going to discuss both types of loyalty as they mean so much to me.

Friendship

When it comes to friendship, I judge a real friend to be a person that you know will be there for you during thick and thin, good times and bad. You know that no matter how the friendship started, that person will be there for you. That is true loyalty. Loyalty that can’t be measured, nor should you feel the need to measure it. I will repeat what I have said in previous blogs, if you have 2 such friends, you are rich indeed.

Give and take

As with anything in life, it is not just about accepting loyalty. Giving loyalty is possibly even more important. It may not always be easy. They do say that a friend in need is a pain! I don’t consider this to be true. A friend in need who comes to you for help is a friend that recognises the friendship and loyalty. They trust you will be there for them. That alone is recognition that they value the friendship and know you will be there for them. There can be no greater complement.

Business

In my opinion, it would be true to say that human friendship and loyalty is simple and clear cut. The world of business loyalty is far more complex and confusing.

As with loyalty in friendships, loyalty in business is a two way street.

You know who you are loyal to

If you are like me, there are certain businesses or brands that you trust implicitly. It may be a small local shop. Perhaps your local boozer. Maybe it is a big chain store.

The loyalty that you have is likely to have been built up over a long period of time. Months, years or perhaps even decades.

I am absolutely certain that you can name half a dozen such businesses that you will go out of your way to use. Those businesses will have served you well. Been there when you expected them to be. They will provide the service that you have come to know and appreciate.

That loyalty will have been hard earned by those businesses. Perhaps long hours. They may have tolerated you when you perhaps unknowingly upset them. It is possible that they helped you even when they knew you were wrong.

For their hard work, you choose to use that business or service over others when you can. You probably go out of your way to use them and support them.

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

Some don’t get it

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

How many times do you have to change company when they don’t recognise your loyalty? Perhaps when they give a better to deal to a new customer than they would to a long term customer. In 20+ years of owning a house, I think I have changed my insurance and utility providers in all but one year. Why? Simple, they are not willing to work for that loyalty, nor recognise it. Where is the loyalty in that? It is the same with banks and building societies, after an introductory period, the interest rates will rise or drop depending on the product.

For me, this defies any sort of logic. Surely it is better (and cheaper) to keep the customers they have. Attracting new customers is expensive and time consuming so why do they choose to alienate the customers who may become loyal if they were treated fairly.

Lies, Damn lies and statistics

Sure, in business it may look better on the balance sheet and reporting to show that they have gained x number of customers and hope that those customers will fall onto the ‘normal’ rates after a period of time. It’s what the shareholders like to see. What doesn’t show on a balance sheet is customer good will. They figures won’t show how much it cost to acquire those customers with cheap deals, advertising, on boarding etc. In many ways, what the shareholders are told goes back to the topic of lies, damn lies and statistics.

From my perspective, the best customers a business can have a rare loyal ones. They will promote your company more than a disgruntled one will. They will also respond with loyalty if, as a company, they earn it.

That has got to be better for customer and company alike. Surely that must be true. Put even in more simplistic terms, is it not just doing what is right?

In both of these scenarios, there is probably more to discuss and consider than I have time for in this blog and podcast. My view may be overly simplistic, potentially flawed in someways. It is however The rule that I live by. I want to offer my loyalty if I can and I so very much appreciate the loyalty that I believe I can count on and trust.

If the local community and high street achieved such levels of loyalty in terms of community and business, how wonderful would it be? The stress and pressures of life would reduce. Perhaps we would even be happier in our lives.

My plea to you

As is often the case,  I am finishing this weeks entry with a plea to all the people who read or listen to this. The please is simply to try and offer loyalty whenever you feel you can. Both to your closest friends and the those small local businesses that are close to you.

 

References

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