Often, when you visit a regular restaurant, you would expect a glass of water, although you don’t always get it. In many countries, restaurants intentionally or pretend to forget that you need water (especially in hot tropical countries), and hope that you would order something with a price tag instead.

I was at a family restaurant at a mega mall again for the second time, and was in for a surprise. When I sat down, I was served iced water immediately. After a few minutes, a waitress smiled at me and brought me a hot cup of Japanese green tea, and she said, “Thank you sir, for coming to our restaurant again, and thank you for your kind support.”

Actions: Do you remember and reward loyal customers?

It is never easy to gain a new customer, though easier to keep an old one. Many organizations try to gain new customers relentlessly, while neglecting old loyal ones. For example, many banks give new premium gifts to new credit card members, while loyal customers do not get the same gifts. Instead, think about offering premium “loyalty gifts” to your loyal customers FIRST, and then offering them to the new customers. This way, your loyal customers feel even stronger about your company, rather than running out at the first instance to cancel your membership, and opting to sign up with another company for the premium gifts. After all, corporate gifts are not expensive items, and giving them away binds you to future sales with the same customers.

For highly competitive markets such as food and beverage, retail, fashion, personal finance, and even the digital economy, service providers have to learn to respect the loyalty of customers. Customers are transient assets that can disappear quickly, and loyalty is a powerful asset seldom harnessed. Learn from the family restaurant, which knew that customers are hard to find, and even harder to keep.

These are some writings we did in 2003 (published as “DotZen”, a paperback book that was widely publicized), and we extracted some which are still relevant today, in the areas of branding, marketing, sales, publicity, and business improvement. If we find some time outside that of helping our clients grow and taking a rest, we will try to write some more.

Copyright©2003 Seamus Phan & Ter Hui Peng. All rights reserved.