Why you need one loyalty strategy for customers AND employees

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Loyalty is a fluid concept. We are loyal to our football teams, but are we really loyal to brands? Equally, can you ever be truly loyal to an employer?

Understanding loyalty is key to understanding the strategies that strengthen loyalty, and this applies for both customers AND employees. They’re both human beings, and they both understand that loyalty stems from no more than the memory of past interactions between your brand and that person. They’re both human beings who dictate the profitability of your business through their engagement with your brand. If customers love it, they buy it. If employees love it, they sell it. That’s why, as a business, you need one loyalty strategy

Building a strong brand

We may have strong external brands, but do we back that up with strong internal brands? Very few businesses do, and the impact is often negative.

For example, what of job candidates who, engaged with your external brand, apply for a position within your business. They discover that the application process is slow and distinct from the rest of the brand. They don’t hear from you for weeks, and you don’t tell them they haven’t got the job. They have to call you, but end up on hold for ten minutes. What sort of experience is that?

What of new employees – fans of your brand – who join the business only to find out that your on-boarding process is a re-hash from your HR partner. It’s un-branded, line managers aren’t aware of it, and nobody follows up on it. Equally, it doesn’t even align to the brand values.

And then, what of those values? If you’re preaching one thing externally, but another thing internally, how do your client-facing employees make the connect between the two? For example, if your brand claims to be innovative, but your employee values revolve around trust and honesty, are your people really ‘living the brand’?

Equally, if your brand revolves around trust and honesty, do employees trust business leaders? In many businesses, the question of trust is key to understanding why employees leave, and the knock-on effect of that is that customers desert the brand, too.

We go back to that initial statement: loyalty stems from the memory of past interactions between the brand and the person. If you approach these interactions from a human viewpoint, and not just a customer/employee viewpoint, you start to understand the impact of each interaction from a profitability viewpoint.

Ask yourself:

  • Are we consistent in our values?
  • Are we consistent in living and breathing our values?
  • Would our customers recommend us?

The fluidity of loyalty ensures that this is a constant challenge. Every touchpoint with your brand – whether that be via an employee or a customer – is an opportunity to reinforce your brand. So map those touchpoints out, and ask people how you’re doing. Use Net Promoter Score wherever possible, and deep-dive into the data to discover underlying trends.

Once you understand that, you can start building memories of your brand, building customer – and employee – loyalty, and profitability will follow.


About the Author:

Gareth Cartman is a marketing expert currently working with customer loyalty and market research agency BIG Research.