How to inspire loyalty from service professionals

Very little is written about how customers can improve their own experience and inspire loyalty. In research handled by Jing Zhou, a professor at Rice University's graduate business school, evidence showed that customers should not only encourage service professionals to make recommendations, but to take those recommendations seriously, and complement the service person for their input. In the end, service improves as well as customer satisfaction. 

We customers can influence the quality of service we receive by sharing control and treating everyone who serves us, from cashier to hair stylist, as an expert in their own job. 

Rice Business Wisdom: What Happens When The Person Providing Your Service Gets Inspired? 2017-Apr-17, based on Jing Zhou

When the hairdresser suggests a little purple highlight on the bangs, and you listen attentively and take her advice, you may actually get a better haircut. Though few people view a salon chair as the seat of power, researchers are learning that client decisions can make a big difference in employee performance. When customers give workers more power, the workers perform better. So do their organizations.

...A recent paper coauthored by Jing Zhou, a management professor at the business school, suggests that when customers listen to employees, respect them and allow them the freedom to do their jobs, the creativity of those providing the service leaps—and so does the quality of that service.... 

Zhou’s research shows that customers and service personnel can be co-creators. It’s a departure from the hoary idea that formal leaders in an organizational hierarchy are the standard-bearers of the quality of customer service. In fact, Zhou maintains, customer service ought to begin not with management, but with the customer herself.

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How do you evaluate employee loyalty?

We have to look at the well-being of our employees. Are they energized by being at work? Do they speak honestly and thoughtfully? Are they supporting each other as well as the company and its leaders? Retired Marine Colonel Steve Corcoran, now at Telos, uses this question: "What time do you go to work in the morning?" The correct answer isn't a time, it's an attitude: "As soon as I wake up." 

The Wise Marketer: On Leadership, Trust & Loyalty, 2019-Feb-5 by Bill Hanifin

With the influence model, company executives are not commanding people to do things, Corcoran explained. “You’re influencing them to obtain the highest potential that they possibly can. You’ve created the environment, you shape the environment where they want to create that potential.”

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The right way to fund good journalism... be an innovator

Good citizens want good journalism, and although no one of us may be able to pay the whole salary for a journalist, every community should be thinking about what they need to know, and how they're going to be sure that someone is around to find out for them. 

Also, publications should be looking for as many was to get funded as they can think up. Be innovators!

The Outline: Journalism should be free, 2019-Feb-06 by Mari Cohen and Christian Belanger

Any system that prioritizes free journalism will likely end up achieving that end through a patchwork set of measures. (There’s also, for instance, the possibility of setting up city-operated newspapers.) And it may be true that holding fast to the principle of journalism as a public good is incompatible with the demands of the market. But instead of capitulating to the demands of capital, we should be thinking about how our social and political worlds prioritize profiteering above all else, and how we might move beyond that.

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The power of making decisions

We are all barraged with requests for our opinion, time, participation, subscription. Ignoring the request is easier than making a decision. When prompted to make a decision, we often do what seems "good for us." So as marketers we should not just show the benefits, but ask people to actually make a decision, not just ignore it. 

Rice Business Wisdom: The Best Way To Get People To Say Yes Is To Give Them A Chance To Say No, 2019-Jan-29 by Eleanor Putnam-Farr and Jason Riis

  • How you frame a question affects how people reply.
  • Using yes-or-no reply formats increased enrollment in employer-sponsored wellness programs, even when employees weren’t required to answer.
  • Initial benefits from the yes-no enrollment question can carry through to program participation.

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How Rifle Paper builds loyalty with social media

Some products are products are perfect for building loyalty through social media. Rifle Paper is an image-oriented company, so Instagram is a natural. The customer communication is very good on Facebook as well. On both platforms, Rifle Paper Co. is generous and interactive. 

The real value of social media "done right" is brought home by the 10,000 responses they received to a customer survey. This type of loyalty allows the company to co-create its future with the customers, substantially reducing risks. 

Business of Home: How Brand Loyalty Allowed Rifle Paper Co. to Break into Home, 2019-Jan-28 by Mel Studach

With its entrenched audience of millennial consumers and an Instagram following nearing a million people, Rifle Paper Co. is preparing for its next phase of growth. “It feels like a startup again a little bit,” says Nathan. “It feels like we’re taking big risks, spending some money—really investing in the business again in a new way.”

Trish Whalen, the company’s recently appointed brand president, is a key part of that investment. A business development and licensing veteran, Whalen held executive roles at Kate Spade, Ivanka Trump and Draper James prior to joining the team at Rifle Paper Co. Tapping into the brand’s loyal consumer base was among her first priorities. She organized an online consumer survey, posing queries such as where customers shop for Rifle Paper Co. products and what categories they’d love to see the brand in, and received more than 10,000 responses.

“To have a brand that has created such an emotional connection to these customers, that is something you can’t architect,” says Whalen. “If you have that going in, we’re way ahead of the game. And that’s what the survey taught us.”

The results quickly confirmed that consumers want to see Rifle Paper Co. in the home category—a response that happened to be aptly timed with the release of the brand’s new rug and pillow collections with Loloi. There was uncertainty about how the collaboration would be received, considering the rugs were a higher retail category than consumers were used to paying for the brand’s traditional paper goods. “Nathan and I talked about keeping our fingers crossed that they convert,” Whalen admits, “and then the Luxembourg rug sold out completely within the first two weeks.” It would be one of seven rugs that would reach sold-out status.

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