Creating Loyalty – Technology Or Philosophy
We are a family of readers. My father, mother and even my kid brother, we are avid, voracious readers. I remember my first book – The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage by Enid Blyton. It was a mystery story set in England and I devoured every word, as it created a moving picture in my mind’s eye. I couldn’t put the book down and lost all sense of time, hating that feeling of it coming to an end. When I asked if I could have another, I was told to read it back-to-front. My next book was gifted to me two Saturday’s later.
However, this is not a story about my reading habits. It’s a story about loyalty. Many hours of my childhood were spent at a bookstore called Tekson’s in South Delhi, while my mother went about shopping for fabric and other assorted items, I had little time for. What always amazed me about these visits was the way the owner of the shop would spring up and greet my mother by name, followed by instructions to assistants in the store to fetch specific new arrivals that he knew she would like. It made me feel really important, just being there.
A cup of tea would magically appear, made exactly the way my mother loved it and as she leafed through the pages of books being paraded before her, Mr Arora, the owner would tell her about the reviews he was getting from other readers. He would ask after my father and let her know he had new design books for him and when my mother would finally buy herself five to six books, he would knock off 20 percent as a ‘special discount’. I would be led off to the children’s section in the back where I would sit and read comic books, over the next few hours.
As I grew into my teens, I would often go there on my own and Mr. Arora would give me the same treatment – ask after my parents, offer me a cold bottle of pop and throw in a discount if I bought anything. When my father died, he was at the funeral, paying his respects, such was his relationship with our family.
Up until the age of 16, there was only one other bookstore I ever shopped at. Teksons Bookshop was my home away from home.
I sincerely believe, loyalty is a “Human” conditions and therefore demonstrating loyalty is about the basic, know your customer, (genuinely) care of them and put your customer front and center of your business.
Now here’s the thing – Mr Arora was like that with all his customers and that’s no mean feat. He knew everyone’s names – their family’s names and the kind of books they loved. He even knew how they took their tea. This was a walking-talking, human database and CRM system, before we had even heard these terms. See, there were no cards with Magstripes or chips, no points to be accrued, no tracking of our transactions, no emails with promotional offers and yet we, and thousands of other families shopped there, for years… This shop was responsible for inspiring thousands of children, just like me to read, and enjoy the magic of books.
The point I’m trying to make is, too many people focus on having the ‘right’ technology or a ‘structured’ programme before they embark on the ‘loyalty’ journey. I sincerely believe, loyalty is a ‘human’ condition and therefore demonstrating loyalty is about the basics – know your customer, (genuinely) care for them and put the customer front and centre of your business and you will reap the rewards.