Five decisions that drive extreme customer loyalty

By Jeanne Bliss, CustomerBliss

Consumers now more than ever are carefully considering how they spend every dollar. At the same time, social media that gives buyers a public forum for their thoughts and experiences is enjoying a meteoric rise. Together, they've created a completely new business culture, one where businesses need not just loyal buyers, but passionate fans. These fans talk to their friends, urge their neighbors to become customers, post on Twitter and fawn on Facebook. They can fuel explosive growth.

Beloved companies share a set of five active and purposeful decisions which inform and motive their conduct. When followed, these decisions take companies on a journey that creates a seismic shift from "mere business" to "beloved company." They are:

Decide to believe

Beloved companies suspend cynicism by choosing to believe their employees and believe their customers. They are freed from extra rules, polices and layers of bureaucracy that create a barrier between them and their customers.

Decide with clarity of purpose

Beloved companies take the time to be clear about their unique promise for their customer's lives. They make decisions to align to this purpose and this promise. This guides choices and unites the organization. It elevates people from just doing tasks to delivering experiences that customers will want to repeat and relate to others.

Decide to be real

Beloved companies break down barriers between customer and company, creating a relationship between people and revel in one another's foibles, quirks and spirit. It draws them to one another. They create a safe place where personality and creativity shows and are believed by customers who are attracted to their personality.

Decide to be there

Beloved companies devote more resources and more plain old work to be there for their customers. They're in it every day to earn the right to a continued relationship with their customers and the first decision they make is to be there when the customer needs them, on the customer's terms.

Decide to say 'sorry'

Grace and wisdom guide beloved companies to accept accountability when the chips are down, when things don't go the way they planned. How a company reacts to mistakes reflects the humanity of the organization and shows its true colors more than almost any situation that might arrive. It is the intent and motivation guide a decision's final outcome that sets people — and companies — apart.

The common denominator is that these beloved companies consistently find a way to weave their humanity with business in the way they make decisions. They never lose sight of the people who have impacted them. They remember that customers admire them not for how they were treated, but how they were handled. They make decisions that create a lasting bond.

The bad news, however, is that there's no shortcut; the world's biggest marketing budget can't make people love you. But the good news is that a company can become beloved — if you commit to these five essential decisions about how to run your business. These five decisions will inspire customers to, in essence, do your promoting for you.

Jeanne Bliss has served as the senior customer executive at five major corporations and is the author of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. She runs CustomerBliss, an international consulting business that teaches executives how to put customer profitability at the center of their business.

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