I recently had two experiences that show contrasting approaches to the concept of loyalty. We had a three-day off-site for my team, where we were to meet and finalize our annual strategy. Part of the event included evening dinners at local restaurants.
The first night was a disaster.
One colleague didn’t receive his entree until well past when everyone else had finished theirs, a dessert was dropped, and the traditional bread—that usually comes at the beginning of the meal—showed up after dessert. The manager seemed somewhat concerned but not enough to rectify the situation. The dinner, which was supposed to be a time of engaging discussion and relationship building, devolved into frustration and dissatisfaction.
The second night brought an entirely different experience, one that left the group buzzing about the service.
It had been a cold, rainy day, and by the time we walked from our meetings to the restaurant, my shirt was soaked. Noticing my predicament, our server handed me a certificate to the gift shop, which said, “Please exchange this for a sweatshirt, compliments of Steakhouse 55.”
The entire evening went like that. We all expressed to each other how we had never experienced anything like this at a restaurant—unexpected service that went well beyond what we would ever anticipate. And while there was some cost to the restaurant to provide this service, we ended up spending about twice as much there as we had the previous night. And we’ll go back and tell our friends to do the same!
Every organization has a culture, but just a few have a winning culture. The topic of culture—and more specifically, the development of winning cultures—is one I have studied for nearly thirty years. I’ve had the privilege of discussing this subject with business leaders around the world, and I have found that nearly every business leader recognizes the need for a powerful, differentiating culture—a culture of service.
Why are there so few examples of extraordinary cultures? Because they are hard to create and difficult to sustain. It almost always requires behavior change—at every level and with every individual.
I love what Peter Drucker, the father of modern management development, said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and it is only when you fully understand what this means, that you’ll lead a successful organization.” So many of us have years, literally, of formal training in the development of strategy, but too few have any formal training on developing a winning culture.
In our book, Leading Loyalty, my coauthors and I introduce a foundation to the development of a winning culture: loyalty. Not just the kind of loyalty that is generated through “loyalty programs” or promotions or pricing strategies. These can be helpful. But these programs are insufficient and bring temporary results. That’s why we titled the book Leading Loyalty. Loyalty doesn’t diminish with one less-than-optimal interaction. It is the kind of loyalty that generates impassioned discussion among friends and loved ones.
Our ability to demonstrate empathy, to understand another’s needs, to take responsibility, and to provide a surprisingly positive and memorable service is a big part of what drives a winning culture. It requires the commitment of everyone. And it can be done!
That’s the message of this book. We’re passionate about this topic and excited to share a proven process to enlist every person at every level to engage and contribute.
Learn more about sharing insights and coaching to build loyalty by attending a complimentary webcast.
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