How do you define Loyalty?

from Dan Silverman

First of all, I believe Loyalty needs to be earned on both sides.

From my staying loyal to a vendor, or travel partner, or a trainer. To the other side; that service provider appreciating my loyalty by being flexible and ensuring that they earn my trust, and therefore my business.

As I come back from spending a few days in Austin, Texas at Avaya’s Engage conference, flying back and forth on Air Canada, and then having to adjust my weekly workout to accommodate a prior commitment, I find myself asking how do I truly define loyalty.

This week I was awarded my Altitude Status at Air Canada and was surprised to find that it was downgraded from last year, despite maintaining my standard 50K status that I’ve had for the past several years. When I reached out to Air Canada (by email was the only option), all I got back was an automated response telling me someone would get back to me by March.

The airline speaks about loyalty and has this program to try and show customers they are valued for frequent travel, yet seems to hide as opposed to providing clients a direct line to the Loyalty program. If they value my Loyalty would they not want to make themselves more accessible? Especially to their frequent flyers.

This week Avaya continued to talk about their Loyalty2Gether program. A program designed to reward customers who have been with Avaya for many years, deeply discounting new solutions in the hopes of driving more sales.

But if one looks at this model, you realize that they are effectively rewarding someone for not upgrading earlier. They aren’t rewarding you for staying with Avaya, it’s simply that these clients have previously chosen not to upgrade due to cost and need. So I ask, are these customers truly loyal or just frugal, not seeing a need to spend for features they do not want to use or even worse simply do not understand how they will make their business more efficient.

And lastly when I think about Loyalty, I look at my personal trainer. Someone who I have trained with almost every week for the past 25 years. He is a one-person operation, and has kept me as a trainee for so long because he makes my workout experience interesting every week. He always challenges me, but equally important he will do whatever he can to accommodate my schedule. Even if it means a personal sacrifice or change for him. He is accessible and flexible, something that these larger organizations should be.

When I reflect on the three experiences above, I ask again ‘how Loyalty should be rewarded’, and how does one earn it from their clients, prospects or even friends? Does giving away merchandise help? Promising to give me the perks I am already receiving? Or is it just being there and ready to help? I think I prefer the later. I just hope the larger organizations look around and take a look at the small companies and understand how they keep loyal customers.

Dan Silverman


Dan Silverman