If you've ever wondered why you should improve customer loyalty, all you have to do is think back to Little League baseball. When you were a kid, whose efforts were celebrated most at the end of the season - yours or your coach's? Yours. Even though you could barely hit the ball and ran the wrong way around the bases half the time, it was you that was recognized most, not your coach. You got the trophy, you got the pizza party, you were made to feel like you could become the next Derek Jeter.
Sure, your coach put in a ton of effort to teach you every week, in between a stressful job and taking care of his own kids. He took time out on his weekends, when most other dudes would rather lounge in front of the TV. He even listened to those obnoxious parents berate him for not giving their kid enough playing time, and kept coaching through it all. Chances are, your coach put in a lot more effort than you did.
But can you imagine how you'd feel, as a hopeful 11-year old, if your coach threw a party for himself at the end of the season? Gave a big speech about all the sacrifices he made to make practice every week? Made sure he got a trophy bigger than anyone else's? Yeah, you'd probably switch sports.
Hold on to that image for a minute.
Now consider what you're doing as a business or organization to support charity. Maybe you help out a local school by providing books and supplies. Perhaps you write a big check to support breast cancer research each year. Or maybe you sponsor a Little League team yourself.
When you help charities, do you throw a big party for yourself? Do you send a big announcement to all your customers telling them how awesome you are? Of course not. Do that and your customers will think that they're less important that you are. And guess where they'll go? Somewhere else.
Just like that imaginary egocentric coach, no one gravitates towards a business that puts itself first.
But here's the catch...
Many businesses would love for their customers to be able to celebrate in the good they've accomplished. But making a big deal about it just seems awkward and self serving. This is a big challenge with trying to implement cause marketing best practices. Consumers admire businesses that do good, but they're averse to businesses that put themselves first.
“Nearly two-thirds of consumers feel that it is no longer enough for corporations to simply give money away to good causes, they need to integrate them into their day-to-day business,” according to the 2010 Edelman Goodpurpose study.
Take this example: when a local business owner described to us some of the significant charitable contributions his business had made over the years, he lamented that very few people were aware of the good his business had done. But he felt limited in what he could do about it. “We don’t want to spend $1,000 to tell people that we gave away $1,000,” he pointed out.
Look at the We (not the Me)
If you are wondering how to improve customer loyalty and want to support charity through your business, that's great! But instead of confining your efforts to writing a check that no one will ever know about, think about some ways you can engage your customers in the process. How can you tie your charitable support to actions your customers take? Patagonia's involvement in the 1 Percent for the Planet program is a great example.
Chances are you can think of at least a couple ways to involve your customers in your charitable efforts. When you do, they'll love hearing about the results, because you can celebrate the good that they've accomplished instead of talking just about yourself. Keep doing that, and you'll have loyal customers for a long time to come.
How do you improve customer loyalty at your business?
We'd love to hear your tips and ideas! Share your thoughts by commenting below.