I was asked yesterday why there is no more customer loyalty. I responded that I would concentrate on customer preference and here is why:
Originally Posted - 3/19/08
I have found that using the term “customer preference” as opposed to "customer loyalty" and satisfaction seems to make the most sense for many companies. Following are some thoughts on the subject.
Often people use these terms interchangeably, thus causing more confusion. It is important to know the difference; Mark Twain said it best. “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
I have always felt that striving for customer satisfaction is like running in a race and being satisfied that I finished in the middle of the pack. Not a winner or a loser just an average or mediocre finish. If satisfying our customers means performing at the level of their expectations, then any company that does it will be perceived as no better or worse that its competition. Being on an equal basis with your competitors offers no competitive advantages.
This means that our employees at the front lines must look at every customer contact and transaction as the “moment of truth.” They must fight the battle for customer preference.
Is there such a thing as customer loyalty in your business? How would Ford answer this when they continually do battle with GMC and Toyota in trying to convince customers to buy and re-purchase with them every few years. How about the phone companies? I have friends who boast that they haven’t paid a long distance bill in years because they keep switching. So in essence, it’s the customer’s choice or preference to do business with us or one of our competitors.
Creating customer intimacy may be the key to customer preference. Simply put, you need to nurture your relationships with your customers by providing error free transactions, tangible products, unique sets of ideas and solutions as well as forming relationships that exchange ideas, respond to technological changes and by offering value added products and services that creates more selling opportunities.
Competitive pressures and on-going regulatory and global issues, along with greater expectations of service from your customers are three of the major reasons for implementing customer preference initiatives.
In order to maintain your current customer base and gain new customers your business plans should include, educate and encourage the appropriate departments to focus in the following three areas:
- Identify and Define “Core Customers”
- Define criteria important to Core Customers and measure the performance
- Institute a “Culture of Customer Preference” IDENTIFY AND DEFINE CORE CUSTOMERS
It is critical to determine the focus of the organization. Do you feel it is more important to be in step with your current customer base or potential customers? The basis for focusing on core customers is to understand their wants and needs and then implement performance measures to meet and exceed these expectations.
How do you determine core customers? Using the Pareto Principle can help. Who are the 20% of customers that account for 80% of current revenue? And, Who are the 20% of potential customers who will account for 80% of future revenue? This also begs the question “are we a customer-driven or market-driven organization?” Market-driven strategies aim at capturing additional customers, while customer-driven focuses on customer preference and retention. It has been my experience that most companies concentrate on both strategies; however, they don’t always create separate plans of action, which is required.
Process checks need to be done on your current method of obtaining customer-driven feedback to determine if you really understand the needs of your customers, you also need to gather feedback from potential customers as well. Obtaining market-driven data is more difficult because it is also necessary to find out why the customer preference is not interested in our product/service as opposed to those of our competitors.
DEFINE CRITERIA IMPORTANT TO CORE CUSTOMERS AND MEASURE THE PERFORMANCE
Once the core customers have been identified and defined the next step is to determine what to measure and then gather customer feedback to drive process improvement activities (i.e. root cause analysis, corrective and preventive action plans, etc.). Determining what to measure is vital, usually senior managers or an outside vendor specifies what should be measured. This is not the preferred method, customers themselves as well as front-line customer contact employees are best able to identify the customers wants and needs. In addition to performance measures on customer requirements customer feedback should provide information for process and outcome measures. These types of measures will enable us to determine the gaps.
Most companies have many methods to gathering customer information like customer surveys, market studies, customer complaints and others. What you need to concentrate more on is the “moments of truth” information that can be provide by our front-line employees who have direct customer contact. All of these methods and information need to be analyzed in a systemic fashion so that all the information can be provided to the appropriate process owners so that opportunities of improvement can be prioritized and corrected.
INSTITUTE A “CULTURE OF CUSTOMER PREFERENCE”
It is vital to an organization’s on-going improvement efforts that customer and market feedback is communicated in such a way that the appropriate process owners and their respective front-line workers are aligned to respond and improve customer feedback in a timely manner. Continuous education and training is required to build a culture of customer preference.
One way to enable the front-line employees to create an environment of customer preference that prioritizes improvement opportunities is to follow these steps:
1. Identify, and select a customer affecting process or service for improvement based on customer feedback data
2. Using SIPOC + CCCCbelow
3. Map the service delivery process, include those steps that direct customer contact is made (i.e. moments of truth)
4. Define customer wants and needs, as well as the customer affecting failure points in the service delivery process
5. Conduct a Barriers and Aids Analysis (Force Field Analysis) to customer expectations, and
6. Set priorities for eliminating/preventing barriers to customer expectations.
After process improvement priorities have been established, process owners should collectively manage the resources required to complete the project. Hope this helps you in establishing a customer preference organization – qualityg
Note - To read related posts on customers or learn about SIPOC + CCCC click on the Customer Label below and they will all pop up in order.
You know what? I have heard enough about Teacher Evaluations, Competition, Ranking Teachers, Merit Pay, Incentive Pay, Work Harder, More Competition, More Audits, More Assistant Principals, More Quality, More Competition, More Technology, Poor Technology, Let the kids figure it out and “Create a new position responsible for …”
Responsible for everything that a Manager or Leader already in the position should be doing!!!
Where are the people who are being paid to be leaders? They are ducking and sidestepping their responsibilities.
They are ignoring the situation because they don’t like confrontation. AND, most of all “They don’t know HOW to be efficient leaders or good managers who own their systems. Yes, they are responsible it comes with the position.
Being a good leader is like being a good parent. You can NOT be a buddy, friend, big sister, big brother, etc... - you are a leader you have responsibilities for what and who you lead. You have tough decisions to make and you must make them based on what is best for the individual and the group even if it looks easier to avoid the situation.
Look around at our education system, business morals/ethics and how people treat each other with no respect. In each of these examples somewhere along the way someone has avoided a situation to make a good decision.
Publish the superstars names - give us their salary numbers and above all publish their bonus amounts too. I definitely want to Rating and Ranking listed --> then I can replicate the best instead or worrying about who you say (who are you anyway) is the worst. - HA - NEVER HAPPEN - been asking for it for years in business.
Compared to previous years I am starting my posting for the upcoming season about a month or two late. It's for lack of material that I have not written it is just I have been more active with work this summer and AAU basketball.
We have played in a number of tournaments this summer and the girls have done well. More importantly it has been fun for the players and coaches. There are two players on the AAU team who play on our school team. We have many of the top players in our area on the team and it is great to see how they all get along and play together on and off the court.
I even found time for some fun!
We went to our school team camp last month and played well in some massive heat and humidity. We could not escape the heat even in the dorm rooms at night. We have also had our best turnout in years for summer workouts and conditioning. Unfortunately, we still lack size but we have a lot of girls that are good athletes.
This year is going to be very interesting because we may have eight seniors on our squad and one junior. Our schedule will be as tough as ever with the two time state champion team in our league.
We got word the other day that our cross town rivals removed their head coach and staff for the upcoming season. Two of the players on the AAU team play on that team. It's always been a good rivalry and I will miss BB and his staff. His school did him no favors by letting him go now since there were some open coaching jobs at the beginning of the summer. I'm sure he will find another position soon.
Next - 4 Player Workouts
Four player workouts went well. We have some bright spots in our younger classes. Looks like we may have 8 seniors on team this year.
We had four girls play AAU this past this Fall season. It was great experience for two of our players and I look forward to their improvement to help the team this year. We did walk away with a championship that three of our players were on the winning team and one of our players was on the runner-up team. In addition this team was also runner-up in the state AAU final for their age group.
Season starts December 2nd.
We lost our first game by 3 pts when our last shot went in and out of the rim. It was the opening game for both teams and both teams played well. Some mental breakdowns from both players and coaches caused some lapses that her our chances of winning the game.
Two games next week and we are stepping up our defense. My bird dogs will be ready!
Two wins this week with a nice one last night against our cross town rivals. We played two good defensive games and the offense was good outscoring one team by 40 and the second team by 25.
The bird dogs played well as you can see two (head blocked) of them on the ground getting the ball - OH BERT!
All the girls got to play and that is a good thing.
One game next week against a very sound well coached team. It will be a good benchmark to see where we are at this early in the season.
Lost our last game and we are now 2-2 for the season. As I mentioned above this was a very sound team and well coached that we had trouble matching up with for the whole game.
We are picking up the defensive intensity in practice and the girls will be playing the complete game with this pressure whether it be zone or M-T-M.
It's nice to see that it takes 3 players to guard one of us! - Next Game 12/28/11 - Merry Christmas!!
UPDATED: 12/22/11 - SWISH 3
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We are a tough team this year but we have a ways to go especially finding a key player who can spark the team with some good outside shooting.
It's been a few weeks since I last posted and we are now 6 wins and 5 losses. We have lost 3 games with less than 5 seconds to go in each. I believe that is a defensive let down in execution and planning by not stopping the best shooters on the floor in each one.
We are now in the heart of our schedule and we have three games within one week.
Our record is now 9-7. We are better than our record shows on some days and on others I wonder how we have won any game.
Yesterday was one of those day's where we just did not come to play. I guess it starts with the coaches not having the team ready and it end with the players looking out of shape, not playing tough and then not really caring if they win or lose (at least that is what is sounded like in the locker room after the coaches left).
Four games to go in the regular season and then we play the defending state champs in our first state tournament district game. Last week I felt we could give them a game.
Since I posted last we went on a 4 game winning streak and played some good basketball. We lost in the first round of the state playoffs to the defending state champions and they look like a good bet to repeat.
We finished 13 wins and 8 losses. Five of the losses were to state rated teams.
I enjoyed the season very much and the team we had was fun to coach. We lose 8 seniors so next year should bring some very interesting aspects as to who and how many make the team. We return one girl who started some games but other than that we will be very young and untested. BUT WE WILL BE READY!
The 18th Annual International Deming Research Seminar
Four presenters will focus on education: Using Deming’s ideas as a skeleton on which to build an educational system, today’s Executive MBA viewed through Deming’s theory, a middle-school mentor program based in Deming’s thinking, and an after-school program whose success is based on helping students find intrinsic motivation.