As you all know, I love to do what I call “Topic Talks” in class. A Topic Talk is an article or topic that is interesting, current, and most important, has a “nugget” for future use. Best of all, students found and presented these Topic Talks which always involved the class jumping in for discussion and commentary.
Well I am happy to announce Topic Talks are now going to be a regular part of DigNuggetville.com. First up is Tracy Acosta-Spore, Office Manager at Bowman & Brooke and Tracy is going to talk to us about the difference between relationship loyalty and company loyalty. Tracy, the floor is yours…
An incident the other day got me thinking about the difference between relationship loyalty and company loyalty.
I am currently the President-Elect of the local chapter of an international association aimed at professional-level members of my own profession. Each year we sponsor an event in collaboration with the business partners (vendors) who generously support our organization. Most of my peers also look to these same vendors when seeking products and services. The event is designed to help business partners gain face-time with current and potential clients while allowing the members to thank the business partners for their support of the chapter. The event has historically been well attended. Many vendors plan to attend up to a year in advance to participate in this unique marketing opportunity.
At this year’s event I, as the Board of Directors liaison, had the responsibility to mingle and to make sure everyone was enjoying himself or herself. I also needed to check that participants were making the networking connections they sought. As I worked my way around the room an account manager from a company I had done business with in the past pulled me aside to chat. He asked me why, after a strong seven-year business relationship, I had recently switched to another service provider.
The answer was simple…my loyalty had never been with his company. Instead, my loyalty had in fact been with the account manager and former employee of their company. That account manager had moved to a competitor – therefore my trust, loyalty and business had moved with him.
This encounter prompted me to consider the business relationships I maintain with other suppliers and service providers. I realized that the reason I continued to use one firm or the other was because they understood my business needs, challenges, constraints, and preferences. I didn’t need to start at “square one” each time I had a need for their product or service, but could merely pick up the phone and describe what I needed in a few sentences. I knew I would consistently receive what I asked for. If they could not meet my need, they were candid about that fact. There was never an attempt to sell me something they knew I didn’t want or need. They did, however, know I would reach out to them should I have a legitimate need. They also felt comfortable making suggestions intended to save me money, time, effort, or frustration based on their knowledge of my firm, but the pressure factor was pleasantly absent. It was not necessary. In each case, the mutually beneficial business relationship was based on past experience and previous performance on both sides.
So my thought to you is….when meeting with clients (current and potential) do you approach it from the aspect of what you can do for them that will build that level of trust and loyalty? Or are you more focused on what you can get from them that will increase your own “numbers” or bolster your “contact” count?
Something to think about today…
Office Manager at Bowman & Brooke