By Naftal Nyabuto-CEO Mzawadi.
There is an African proverb that says ‘A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground”, this is true for many businesses that were experiencing recent success and had forgotten that a natural calamity of Corona magnitude may change their fortunes in lightning speeds. Those who thought they are high flying therefore couldn’t see the need for creating customer loyalty programs are soon realizing they were only standing on the anthill.
In my years working with Mzawadi, and loyalty Programs in Kenya,I have gotten an opportunity to interact with hundreds of business owners, both the receptive ones, egocentric ones, pessimists, optimists and industry leaders. All those personalities had different views as the how and why they should integrate loyalty programs into their customer service, acquisition and interactions .However, what has differentiated industry leader to lagers is the decisive and strategic nature of their decision making and love for their customers. It’s their eagle vision of understanding that at times of difficulty, its only loyalty that can break or make your company.
Still, hard times—even a deep recession—can be an opportunity to win the loyalty of more customers, increase productivity, and strengthen market position. It is true that customers buy less in an economic recession. But the fact is that they still buy—customers are just choosy about where they spend their money. So the question is, why don’t customers buy from you? Where is your customer loyalty? If you are in a commodity market, then your customers may well be seeking lower cost substitutes. But in most cases, particularly for service brands, the reason for the lack of customer loyalty is not price.
Brands have always confused loyalty to repeat clients or to having more sales. Companies who survived the past great recessions are not the companies that were making highest sales, but those who were loyal to their clients. Most organizations especially in Kenya think that customer loyalty is about customers being loyal to them when it should be the other way round—the brand should be loyal to its best customers by offering value that is not generally available to the mass market. By being loyal to your clients, at times of adversity, clients are likely to connect from those who were always there for them and those who only valued their shilling. Therefore, during this Corona season, its time-just like when grieving-to evaluate and see who is loyal to your brand and who isn’t, then get out of the anthill and fly.