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Industry CCO

Be a Thought Leader...
   ... Seven Attributes to Building Loyal Relationships

By G.A. Taylor Fernley

"Satisfaction is about the past...
            ...loyalty is about the future."
                     --Jim Kane

NEWSFLASH: Loyalty is NOT dead! Contrary to popular opinion, it is in fact alive and well and just looks a little bit different than it did in the past.

I am reminded of an article I read recently that struck home; specifically, just because members are "satisfied" does not mean that they are "loyal". Satisfied members still leave if and when a better offer comes down the road. On the other hand, loyal members won’t leave for any reason as they value the relationship far too much. Are your members loyal... or just satisfied? If only satisfied, what then are you doing to convert them over?

Borrowing from the acronym conceived by friend and colleague Karen Lawson, Lawson Consulting Group, I find loyalty can best be captured by subscribing to the acronym R-E-S-P-E-C-T. These seven letters represent seven profound words that, if effectively and consistently put into play, will dramatically impact the loyalty factor both from within your organizations and with your volunteer leadership.

Let's take a closer look at those letters and what they could mean to you:

Respect – It is the centerpiece for all strong relationships. It starts with respect of yourself and then permeates throughout the entire organization. A culture of respect creates loyal long-term relationships.

Expectations – How does that saying go... "if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there". Set expectations... create measurables... and hold yourself and those around you accountable. Clear direction and understanding breeds loyalty.

Service – Look around you today. What is missing? Answer: CUSTOMER SERVICE. Everywhere you go... it is missing. Differentiate yourself by finding out what is on the minds of the customer and then deliver it better than anyone else.

Partnership – Are you a partner or a vendor? Partnerships remain while vendors come and go as they are nothing more than a commodity. First identify what that partnership means and then drive the process. Loyalty will follow.

Ethics – Strong ethical standards and values are what establish loyal relationships and maintain them over time. Too many people take the easy way out these days and cut corners. Simply put: it doesn’t work. Remember what got you to the successful position you are in today... and stand by it.

Communications – Loyalties ebb and flow with the success of communications flow. Done well, transparency and openness prevails. Done poorly, suspicion and doubt are created. The #1 weakness within all organizations today continues to be effective communications. Find ways to excel at it both with your internal customer (associates/employees) and your external customer (members and clients).

Trust – Last, but not least, is the importance of creating an atmosphere of trust within your organization. It all starts and ends with your leadership.

Be a thought leader within your organization and consider these attributes of R-E-S-P-E-C-T as you begin to plan for 2010 and beyond. The future will be exceedingly bright for those who do.