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Myths you can't live without

Loyalty Myths
By Timothy L. Keiningham
Terry G. Vavra, Lerzan Aksoy and Henri Wallard
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005
276 pages, $24.95

53 myths that prove what we already know but sometimes forget

We live and work in a complex world where the simple answer may be right, but needs scrutiny. Loyalty programs have been all the rage since the frequent flyer programs brought green stamps (ok, we’re dating ourselves – go here if you want to know what they were) into the 20th century. Every b-to-c industry has them, and many b-to-b companies do also. As the authors point out, the support industry for these programs is huge, and many of the simplistic arguments used by the industry to sell their products and services are not supported by a thorough examination of the facts . . . all of them.

Oh that our relationships with customers were so simple

The authors do an excellent job deconstructing what is a very complex set of issues through the uni-dimensional arguments often used to justify loyalty programs. As they tick off the fifty-three myths, again and again we’re reminded that few of the arguments are completely wrong, but most are almost always wrong. We know this intuitively because few things are straightforward where customer relationships are concerned. Our intuition is supported by the facts and research presented by the authors.

It’s profit, not sales

When all is boiled down, the authors remind us of four things. First, customer profitability must be the determinant when considering which customers we want to be loyal. Second, customer retention can’t be the only strategy if you hope to grow for the long term. As in most things, balance is required. Third, customers aren’t naturally disposed to loyalty and some switching may be healthy for all concerned. Finally, the best, most generous loyalty program can’t make up for bad products and services.

Throw the book at them

We believe in loyal customers as a, not the sole, source of sustained, profitable results. We also believe loyalty programs help sustain customer loyalty, they do not create loyal customers. This book is a good resource for those faced with evaluating an existing loyalty program. Many of us already have such programs and they probably need to be evaluated. It’s also a valuable resource for those considering starting a new loyalty program.

Throw this book at the next supplier or staff person who comes to you with a loyalty program as the answer. If the book gets thrown at you, read it and use it to help define the right loyalty program.
 

Loyalty Myths
By Timothy L. Keiningham
Terry G. Vavra, Lerzan Aksoy and Henri Wallard
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005
276 pages, $24.95


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