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Customer Loyalty, the Most Important Metric, Part 2

Chad Storlie is a marketing director and a lecturer of marketing at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets), an Iraq combat veteran and a widely published author. His work can be seen at www.CombatToCorporate.com.

Editor’s Note: This is Part Two of a two-part column. For Part One, click here.

Business is besieged with metrics. Return on investment, website visits, website return visits, shopping cart abandonment rates, and average customer spend are all important and well-used metrics to evaluate the success of a business.

As with all business problems, everyone agrees that metrics are vitally important. What no one can agree on is which metrics are the most important.

Until now.

The most important marketing metric is customer loyalty. Here, we continue the list of important assets from Part One of our discussion.

Innovate & Test

Business results, survey results, industry trends, customer focus groups, and employee ideas are the dataset for creating and innovating ideas. This, in turn, grows more loyal customers and maintains existing loyal customers.

Once the ideas are in place, start performing small tests to see how those ideas might grow loyal customers. Vital to these tests are to have a separate group for evaluation that are not involved in the pilot. These “control groups” are essential to ensure that your test results are directly attributable to your new ideas and not the result of another unintended consequences.

Forget long and in-depth product development cycles. Instead, innovate, test, and implement fast.

Watch & Respect Your Competitors

As you grow loyal customers, your competitors will be watching, innovating, and acting themselves. A desperate and motivated competitor may utilize price decreases to gain more traction. That is a danger in any business or industry.

Think about how to use loyalty programs, special events, unique products, and meaningful rewards to maintain and grow loyalty in the face of competitor activity. When you respect a competitor, you analyze, anticipate, and design around a competitor offering instead of dismissing the competitor with a wave of the hand.

Businesses that care about customer loyalty respect their competitors.

Adopt a Leadership Style of Humility

The most important aspect of growing customer loyalty is a leadership style that combines humility with a passion for great customer experience. A leadership style of humility means that you never take customer loyalty for granted.

A passion for customer experience recognizes that customer loyalty is and always will be an ongoing initiative.  When humility and a passion for customer experience come together, you get a team that is driven, motivated, and passionate for meeting customer and business needs together.

Customer loyalty is how businesses succeed over the long term.

A business and customer relationship that is based on humility, respect, innovation, great customer experience, and solid products and services is great for both the business and the customer.