loyaltyThe length of time a customer has been doing business with a firm is only one indicator of loyalty. Loyalty is, after all, very closely related to the concept of a relationship. Those individual to whom we feel the closet are also those to whom we are the most loyal and who are likely most loyal to us. Genuine loyalty stems not from some artificial bond that makes it difficult for one of the parties to the relationship to leave. The foundation of loyalty is in sustained customer satisfaction; it is an emotional, attitudinal connection, not simply a behavioral one

To increase loyalty, we must increase each customer’s level of satisfaction and sustain that level of satisfaction over time. To raise satisfaction, we need to add value to what we offer the customer. Adding value leaves customers feeling that they got more than they paid for even expected. It does not necessarily mean lowering process or providing more tangible product for the money.

Satisfaction is tied to what the customer gets from dealing with a company as compared with what he or her has to commit to those dealing or interactions. It is useful to think laterally about what it is that your customers get from your firm and what it is that they must “spend” to get it. You will soon conclude that customers give much more than money and in return get much more than a product or service. These are the core element of a transaction based view of the exchange principles inherent in marketing, but they are not the essence of marketing itself. We have to get well beyond viewing customers as people to whom we “sell” things and beyond defining value as a function of product and price alone.