In previous editions of this newsletter, I have talked about what I perceive as the enormous difference between customer satisfaction and genuine customer loyalty.

Most of the things that companies do in an effort to boost customer loyalty—including loyalty “programs” that offer everything from frequent-flyer miles to special discounts for steady customers—really do no more than boost customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer will stick with you until a better, more satisfying offer comes along. And your competitors are always looking for ways to make a better offer. Loyalty programs can be copied. Loyalty itself cannot.

I argue that customers are not truly loyal to you until they have “stopped shopping” for better offers. You are so valuable to them that they have gone deaf to the appeals of your competitors. I argue further that, in truth, such strong feelings of loyalty almost never attach to a company—a corporate entity. People only feel loyalty like that to other people. It is entirely a matter of personal relationships. This means that if you want true loyalty from your customers, you must rely entirely on your employees. Only they can earn loyalty. Only they can create it, nurture it, and keep it.

How can your company create the greatest number of truly loyal customers? Here is my answer…