I have been thinking about customer loyalty. About what has us become loyal customers. There is a lot more to it than just having our needs met. Lots of places or people meet our basic needs but we don't think of ourselves as loyal to them.
What makes the difference?
The ideal for any business or organization is to have zealous customers or clients. I have also heard this described as evangelistic. Customers who can't stop talking about them, who tell their friends, and pretty much anyone else, about how wonderful the business or the services are. They spread the word more effectively than any ad.
I have my list of businesses and people I feel this way about. They each have benefitted from my referrals.
There's another list, the list I want to be evangelistic about but I haven't quite gotten there. I want to love them. The atmosphere or the product or the philosophy and values are there. Something's missing. The critical ingredient that would have me feel special as a customer. A sincere and friendly greeting with a little extra conversation. A reasonable application of rules or procedures appropriate for the circumstance rather than 'by the book'. A concerted effort to resolve something so that I, as the customer, am satisfied. Being listened to. Being called back promptly if I leave a message. Having appointments kept, not cancelled. Meetings held on time.
These things, and others, are what make the difference for me. I feel taken care of and valued. And I become loyal. When the opportunities come up to refer the business or the person, I do so. One zealous, loyal individual can make a lot of referrals.