You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.

Jeffrey Gitomer

You know, I once went on a quest. Not the kind that involves dragons or a golden fleece, but one that’s equally mythical in the world of business: the search for the secret ingredient that makes brands invincible to the wild winds of change. I imagined it to be something exotic, like unicorn tears or the laughter of a mermaid. But, as it turns out, it was hiding in plain sight, like that pair of glasses you can’t find only to realize they’ve been on your head the whole time.

Customer loyalty. That’s it. The big, grand secret. It’s not as glamorous as a potion or a spell, but it’s magic in its own right. Strong brands don’t just slap a logo on a product and call it a day. No, they roll out the red carpet, serenade you with a violin, and maybe even throw in a complimentary foot massage. Okay, maybe not the foot massage, but you get the idea. They deliver experiences that are as memorable as that time my brother-in-law showed up in full Star Wars cosplay to take my sons trick-or-treating.

Now, here’s a little nugget from my own treasure trove of experiences. Chris and I, in our business escapades, never really had a catchy slogan or mantra plastered on our walls. But if you watched us, if you really observed, you’d see a pattern. We operated with a principle that was as clear as day: human first, business second. It wasn’t about just the bottom line—it was about the heart line.

  1. We led with doing exactly what we said we would do. No smoke, no mirrors, just good old-fashioned integrity.
  2. Overcommunicating? Oh, we turned that into an art form. We believed in clarity, even if it meant explaining things five times over with hand-drawn diagrams and interpretive dances.
  3. And the corporate jargon? Tossed it out the window. We wanted our interactions to feel like a chat over coffee, not a boardroom presentation.

And here’s the real kicker: a stellar customer experience isn’t just about when the sun’s shining and everything’s going right. Oh no. In the tech world, where Chris and I played, there were days when the storm clouds gathered. Bugs would pop up, systems would crash, and digital gremlins seemed to dance in delight at our despair.

But it was in those very moments that the true essence of prioritizing the customer came to the fore. It wasn’t just about firefighting the problem, but about embodying the golden rule. We’d ask ourselves, “If I were the customer, how would I want to be treated right now?” And then we’d do just that. We’d communicate, be available, and ensure that even in the darkest tech hours, our customers felt seen, heard, and valued.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Stephen, customer loyalty sounds like one of those buzzwords that corporate folks throw around while sipping on overpriced lattes.” And you might be right. But here’s the thing: when the world is spinning faster than a toddler on a sugar high, and everything feels like it’s in a constant state of flux, there’s one thing that remains steadfast. The bond between a brand and its loyal customers.

It’s like that friend who remembers your birthday without a Facebook reminder, or the dog that waits by the door for you, even if you’ve only been gone five minutes. It’s genuine, it’s heartwarming, and it’s the stuff of legends.

So, if you’re out there, trying to build a brand or just make sense of this ever-changing world, remember this: it’s not about the flashiest ads or the catchiest jingles. It’s about creating experiences that stick, that make people feel seen, valued, and maybe even a little bit special. Because in the end, it’s the loyal customers who will stand by you, rain or shine, cosplay or no cosplay.

On the mythical quest for brand invincibility

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.