Satisfaction_LoyaltyAt one time; satisfied customers must have been a meaningful statistic. Why else would we make such a big deal about such surveys? Today however, a satisfaction is more synonymous with a lack of disappointment.

There is a big difference between not disappointing and actually satisfying – an even bigger difference stepping up to building loyalty.

While many companies brag about their independent, third-party rankings for customer satisfaction on TV advertisements as they solicit facebook fans; it gives the rest of us an incredible opportunity to actually connect with people on a human level. Hint; studies show that less than 5% of your facebook fans actually interact with your page.

Humans are complex emotional beings that rarely make sense from moment to moment. Most of our claims of satisfaction or loyalty are merely a matter of circumstance or convenience. Ask when the emotion is good and you will get a good response. Ask when the emotion is bad and you’ll get a bad response. •

  • We rationalize the value of a new car purchase for several months, maybe a year – with excuses like, the old one needed new brakes, and new tires, a tune-up, the suspension was soft, and the air conditioning wasn’t working properly. Yet we also develop nostalgia for the very vehicles we use as a trade in deposit. •
  • We justify a new smartphone purchase by talking about how much faster it is compared to current model, or how much a new data plan (switching to a new contract) will save them each month. Hint; it is doubtful that the savings will amount to the purchase price of the device.

We have all heard stories about uber-loyal fans of musicians who sit for hours in line waiting for the box office to start selling tickets for a show that is at least 6 weeks away. Each new release of a new mobile device from Apple comes with a similar frenzy from loyalists. Some people call this behavior crazy. But to them, waiting like everyone else or missing the show would be crazy behavior.

These companies, and musicians grow into super-brands because they connect with people on an emotional level. These brands deliver what they want, what they do best, and give their fans an experience to remember. Decades from now, we might think of iPhone 6 as primitive technology; but the story about how you waited in line for 8 hours to be one of the first to own can still be relished and shared – kinda like stories from a Rolling Stones concert.

In a previous business; I got to see the power of these connections on a first-hand basis. I personally knew dozens of people who got tattoos with the company logo. They not only invested tens of thousands of dollars in products, training, and accessories; they also showed their loyalty in ink. This loyalty was never up for sale. Because they made this commitment with their hearts, heads and skin, they continued to defend the company throughout a lengthy back-order; and later through a product recall. They helped soften the blow. They even kept converting fans even while the company was not at full strength.

Harley-Davidson has a great reputation for creating legions of extremely loyal fans – both with and without company tattoos. It is no surprise when you read the mission statement.

  • Customers for life… Harley-Davidson values the deep emotional connection that is created with our customers through our products, services and experiences. We are fueled by the brand loyalty and trust that our customers place in us to deliver premium quality and the promise of a fulfilling lifetime ownership experience. We exemplify this commitment by embracing a culture of personal responsibility and stewardship for quality in everything we do.

The cost of building a company like this from the beginning ranges dramatically. In 1981, thirteen Harley-Davidson executives bought the company back from AMG to the approximate tune of $80Million. They had enough vision to see this as a bargain.

Regardless of whether you are into tattoos or not; I’m sure you can see that this type of loyalty is more powerful than mere satisfaction.

Are you building the type of company that people would be happy to support for the rest of their life?