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Loyalty that isn't loyalty.

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We are a dog family. Always have been. But a few years ago some cats moved into the backyard. More specifically, a mother cat had kittens in an area by our pool and my wife and kids started feeding them. I still do not own any cats, but we feed and care for 3 of them, so technically I think the cats own me.

Having cats around reminded me of the story of the woman who died in her home with just her cat. Unlike the stories of loyal dogs that stayed with their masters until they died of starvation, the cat story ended with the cat feeding off the dead woman's body. I keep a wary eye on the cats in my backyard as I feel their affection for me is merely as a potential foodsource.

The difference between cat and dog versions of loyalty actually has significant implications as we think about our businesses. Too often, we mistake the fact that our customers haven't chosen another alternative with true loyalty. How do we know they aren't simply staying with us out of laziness or lack of other options? Case in point, I don't feel any loyalty to my electrical provider, my gas company, or my cable company. If another provider showed up tomorrow with an equivalent product for less money I would change in a minute.

By comparison, I pay a significant premium when I purchase computers to use Apple MacBook's. They have created in me a loyalty and attachment that goes beyond the difference in cost.

It would appear that sometimes I am cat loyal and sometimes I am dog loyal.

I want my customers to be dog loyal. I want them to choose me even when there are other options. But I only do that when I provide value that no one else is providing. Let me say that again, value that NO ONE ELSE is providing.

The same value for less money is a suckers game. As soon as someone provides a cheaper option those customers will be gloating over the dead carcass of your company. Cat loyalty.

Q: How do you create loyalty with your customers? What companies have inspired true loyalty in you?

Managing motives instead of behavior.

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