August 27, 2015

Loyalty: a strong feeling of support or allegiance to something or someone. The most recognizable and long-standing brands in the world were built upon loyal customers. However, earning loyalty is challenging in today’s environment – consumers are presented with endless choices and nonstop opinion-sharing via social media. Businesses and decisions are moving at a rapid pace. Yet we know that retaining customers and earning their referrals is more important than ever to build velocity and achieve success.

How do we foster greater loyalty? From the foundation of delivering a superior product or service, loyalty develops through open and honest communications. We must build a culture of candor so strong that it spreads beyond our internal teams and branches out to our external partners – our clients and customers, and the media, advisors, and vendors that support our success.

Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

We must clearly communicate who we authentically are, from our mission and values to our policies and procedures, and capabilities and weaknesses. And we must be direct and respectful in moments of great challenge – such as during a major transition or in the wake of a mistake.

Fostering candor as a way to build loyalty also begs the question of feedback. If we want to forge long-lasting relationships with our customers, we must offer them the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions in ways that are relevant, compelling and meaningful. The most important thing we need to ask is will they recommend us… and if not, why?

As we consider candor and loyalty, let’s consider if we are:

  • Clear and open about who we are and what we do?
  • Respectful to our customers and external partners, even when the answer is uncomfortable?
  • Asking for their feedback in meaningful ways?

Throughout this series, we’ve looked at how candor reinvigorates our teams; defines our hiring and retention; re-establishes focus on goals and milestones; and builds loyalty among our customers. Ultimately, fostering a culture of candor is the key to ignition for velocity and success.