The Loyalty Puzzle


I know from many years of talking to the CRN readership that you share a similar philosophy: Your best new customers come from your best ongoing clients.

HEATHER CLANCY
Can be reached via e-mail at hclancy@cmp.com.

So are you doing your best to ensure that those clients are your most effective, active promoters?

There&'s plenty of buzz right now about this topic spurred by a book coming out next month titled “The Ultimate Question,” written by Bain and Co. fellow Frederick Reichheld. According to the author, loyalty can be gauged by asking your customers a single simple question: “Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Those who admit to a high probability of doing so are called your “net promoters.” Neutrality doesn&'t count, by the way. Reichheld&'s theory is that unless someone is willing to put their own personal reputation on the line to spread the good word about your products or services, they really aren&'t loyal at all.

In the publishing world, this is akin to what we call the “pass along” effect. That&'s the propensity of one of our “official” subscribers to hand this publication to a colleague because of a particular article. This speaks volumes about whether or not we&'re covering the right things, and covering them well. Historically, ours has been about triple our print circulation. And that&'s the number I worry about.

When it comes to IT consulting and solutions, there are many, many factors that could influence a recommendation by one of your clients—from your initial outreach in an account and your expertise in picking the right products for the task at hand to the smooth deployment of said solution and the subsequent support and service. If you&'re offering some sort of ongoing, managed service to handle an IT function, things get even more interesting. The fact is, the more regular your contact with your clients, the more chance there is for things to go right—or wrong—at every single level.

You can bet that your own propensity to be loyal will factor more in your relationships with your vendors this year. Fact is, they&'re interested in why you would or would not recommend them first. In their minds, being first is the only thing that&'s good enough. And it should also be the only thing good enough for you.

Do your customers recommend you actively? HEATHER CLANCY, Editor at CRN, is interested in your feedback at hclancy@cmp.com.