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Idealog—in the ideas business

Call me loyal

Hugely sought after and hard to keep, customers are by and large fickle beasts.

I am absurdly chuffed this week because I’m going to Auckland on Saturday. Yes, yes, I know, for many people that sentence will make no sense whatsoever. I mean, Auckland?

But, Auckland is the home of my hairdresser. Aha! I can almost see the disgust on your face. It is not with pride that I admit to my carbon hairprint of shame. Don’t panic – I’m not flying there every six weeks for a trim. I haven’t been to Auckland for a year so I’m a shaggy mess with severe regrowth but with a firm conviction that only one man gets to wield scissors that close to my ears.

I realise this does make me sound a bit ... spoiled? There are heaps of hairdressers. But there’s only one Brandon and in the six years he’s been cutting my hair he’s never dimmed my beauty by lopping too much off or pouring on too much peroxide. Other, lesser hairdressers have made these errors. I have cried after a bad cut and dye. And I know it’s petty – it’s only hair, it’ll grow back, you can re-dye it – but if you’ve found someone who gets it right every time – you’ll sacrifice a lot to keep him. And possibly make him biscuits too.

Customer loyalty is hugely sought after and hard to keep. Personally, I am loyal to my dentist and my hairdresser. And Best Foods mayonnaise. I am less loyal to cobblers (one in every suburb) and when it comes to dry cleaners I whore my clothes around.

The problem with the things I am truly loyal to is that in addition to not living near my hairdresser, I don’t live very close to my dentist either.

Like my parents, my dentist lives in Palmerston North and, unusually for anything involving PN or pain, I look forward to the trip. Mum, dad and a good drilling. The man has magic hands and as anyone who’s had a bad dentist knows, the good ones are worth travelling to.

What inspires customer loyalty? Good customer service? Low prices? The attractive waiter? The fact a place has no minimum EFTPOS purchase? Great buttery crumpets but I loathe the $10 minimum EFTPOS purchase. I am not a cash carrier. Because I spend it and then I forget to get more out. Because I can use my shiny EFTPOS card at most shops. If you have a $10 minimum then for the love of badgers, please ensure nothing in your store is under $10. Or at the very least, please have an obvious sign advertising this fact so I don’t get to the counter and flare my nostrils alarmingly when you refuse my card because I only have $8.30 in purchases.

This sort of outrage is right up there with places that refuse to let you split the bill. If this is advertised, fine. If it’s not, or you’ve spelt split as spilt then I shall pay the bill but I’ll be mighty irked and probably won’t bother you again.

Loyalty to a brand, a product, a person, a country – what makes us cheat and what makes us stay? I spent years in a monogamous relationship with TV One news. But then Judy left and I started to stray. And in first year I proved size does matter when I changed banks purely for a larger overdraft.

I like to think I’m loyal, but once you’re past my teeth, my hair and my mayo, I’m fickle. You? Would Dave Dobbyn call you loyal?

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I walked by a bookshop at lunch today in the Wellington downtown. There was a large sign saying, “We're happy to give change for parking” - yet another loyalty ploy. I don't know if it's working.

I was loyal to the same hairdresser for five years (before he moved to Hong Kong!) for similar reasons. A bad haircut is like a hat you can't take off for a year.

I'm also loyal to cafes that consistently make a good coffee, and places with good service.

I trek across town to see my doctor and I'm pretty sure I would never change. Have recently found both a dentist and hairdresser that I love - to be honest it's really quite a weight off my mind. I will only eat Marmite, have a strong preference for Heinz Ketchup and won't touch that nasty Cadbury stuff since they changed the recipe and started making it in Aussie. I'm also loyal to Corollas and iPhones.

oh and try Seriously Good mayo - it will change your life

The new ANZ ad is very good at the whole “split the bill” drama.

Splitting the bill leads on to another conversation about when it is appropriate to split the bill, Mr $45 steak to my $19 tacos.

Customer loyalty is important. It always has been been. There are many stores in Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland where I would pick them all up and make a super Mark city of shoppiness-glory.

Customer loyalty is also very important when you're the only supplier. No happiness, no compliance.

Oh and Doris is right. I use to be a Bests Man until I tried Seriously Good and now I'll never go back. I went back once… to ETA… never again

I'm only loyal to my cat. If there's a better bargain to be had, or a new cheese to scoff, I'll do it. Screw 'em. It's a supply and demand world.

Heck Jody - that's a bit rough.

We care so much about our clients that we often invest hours of unpaid work in them so working for someone that can't see past price would be a real slap in the face.

If it's all about price, then won't the China-effect ultimately wipe out kiwi jobs and give our stuggling little economy a beating.

Be that as it may Wendy, we live in small underpaid country with price-taggery one of it's main hobbies.

I must say I don't understand the $10 eftpos minimum thing. What are they avoiding with that rule? Mind you, a response of “well I don't have cash, so I guess you've no choice then have you bub?”would likely work.

I'm so glad to see I'm not the only one being extremely loyal (or picky). There's 3 reasons why I fly once a year to Chile: 1) Visit Mum & Dad, 2) well deserved beauty session that includes haircut & manicure, and 3) dentist.

Funny coincidence. I like you =)

As the owner of a cosmetic dentistry practice in Auckland, I know how difficult it is to keep customers. Doing wonderful work to transform their smile is a given, so we've found adding extra 'touches' to each client visit to make our clinic stand out.

In between patient visits I often call clients personally to check up on how their going. Sometimes due to the treatment they are pursuing they can be in some pain or mild discomfort. The brief call often generates an 'oh, wow' response because they don't expect it and we are genuinely interested.

Ever since we started doing this our retention and referral rates have improved markedly. It wasn't even my idea either… it was my team's idea!

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