Loyalty-based management

Harv Bus Rev. 1993 Mar-Apr;71(2):64-73.


Despite a flurry of activities aimed at serving customers better, few companies have systematically revamped their operations with customer loyalty in mind. Instead, most have adopted improvement programs ad hoc, and paybacks haven't materialized. Building a highly loyal customer base must be integral to a company's basic business strategy. Loyalty leaders like MBNA credit cards are successful because they have designed their entire business systems around customer loyalty--a self-reinforcing system in which the company delivers superior value consistently and reinvents cash flows to find and keep high-quality customers and employees. The economic benefits of high customer loyalty are measurable. When a company consistently delivers superior value and wins customer loyalty, market share and revenues go up, and the cost of acquiring new customers goes down. The better economics mean the company can pay workers better, which sets off a whole chain of events. Increased pay boosts employee moral and commitment; as employees stay longer, their productivity goes up and training costs fall; employees' overall job satisfaction, combined with their experience, helps them serve customers better; and customers are then more inclined to stay loyal to the company. Finally, as the best customers and employees become part of the loyalty-based system, competitors are left to survive with less desirable customers and less talented employees. To compete on loyalty, a company must understand the relationships between customer retention and the other parts of the business--and be able to quantify the linkages between loyalty and profits. It involves rethinking and aligning four important aspects of the business: customers, product/service offering, employees, and measurement systems.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / economics
  • Commerce / organization & administration*
  • Consumer Behavior / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Employee Incentive Plans / economics
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel Loyalty*
  • Product Line Management / economics
  • Product Line Management / organization & administration
  • United States
  • Workforce