About six months ago, a new grocery store opened a few blocks from my home. On my first visit, I was handed a loyalty card and told to attach it to my key-chain, which I did without much thought. The checker explained that rewards would automatically appear on my card depending on how much I spent at the store. She also mentioned that using my loyalty card would give me a discount at their gas station. 

We've all been given loyalty cards before. Every few months I go through my wallet and remove those cards I've never used which is most of them. Recently I've received loyalty cards from my barber, a frozen yogurt cafe, an auto parts store, and a local movie theater. I would need a wallet three times the size of my current model in order to carry all the cards I've collected. It would be an understatement to say the loyalty card game has gotten out of hand. 

Speaking to hundreds of Puget Systems' customers over the past few months has me thinking what it means to be loyal to a business.  

Repeat customers continue to be a large segment of our business, and we strive to learn what we can do to earn your business. Although this is our goal, we don't always get it right. I've been collecting feedback (maybe I've called or emailed you) about areas of our business that we'd like to refine, expand or improve, and hundreds of you have shared your experiences with me. While a lot of the feedback you share is positive, some can be blunt when we've dropped the ball. 

But all of it is valuable and provides valuable insight into what we do well along with areas we need to improve. 

One question I've asked is: Why did you decide to do business with Puget Systems? 

I assumed the answer to this question would be that you found the product you wanted. Or that you like how our website is organized or how our cases are more subdued and don't scream, "Look at me!" I thought you'd mention that we built a computer you couldn't find elsewhere. 

But my assumptions were off. 

Overwhelmingly I heard a version of this: "I selected Puget Systems because I trusted you." 

How important is trust in earning someone's loyalty? Based on the feedback I've gathered from you, it's mandatory. And trust generally is gained through 1-on-1 interactions. It's why, if you call our sales or support departments, we answer the phone rather than make you navigate a convoluted phone system designed to wear you down. 

A small, local grocery store has earned my loyalty by listening. When I asked the owner to carry a brand of pretzel my kids like to pack in their lunches, he called me a week later to tell me he'd ordered it. A local car stereo business earned my loyalty by listening to my needs and reducing an overwhelming number of options down to two. And my yard service is provided by a man who has earned my loyalty by taking care of not only the lawn but my sprinkler system, removing one less hassle in my life. 

What are some of the companies that have earned your loyalty? How did they earn it?