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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002

How to identify that loyal customer

By Dr. Drake Beil
President, Solutions Inc.

What makes someone a perfect customer? Loyalty is the first thing that quality sales and marketing managers crave in a perfect customer. So ask yourself: Are you loyal? Do you spend all your money for your groceries, gas and dry cleaning with the same company?

Think about how often you use the same credit card to get airline miles, rather than any other card. They add an additional benefit, frequent buyer miles, to their partnership which created an incentive for you to be loyal. You respond with repeated purchases of food, fuel and so on.

Or, are you tempted by the next free toaster? Are you going to move your accounts because of a round-trip ticket to Maui or Las Vegas? Do you switch checking and savings accounts freely to get the best deals and rates? The inconvenience may be a hassle — but why not, if you make more interest and get good stuff?

Well, if you are a switcher, you're not profitable to the banks and financial companies. You are a menace. They don't start making money from you until several months into the relationship, especially with a credit card, and they don't move into really profitable territory until several years into the relationship.

The customers from hell are the ones who aren't loyal, complain loudly and, worse, tell as many other people as they can about how bad your business is.

Reach Dr. Drake Beil at drake@60secondsonbusiness.