Customer Loyalty Archives

Earn a Seat in the Corporate Board Room!

I have served on the Luby’s/Fuddruckers board for over a decade. It’s one of many joys of my career. I get asked frequently, “How do you get a seat on a corporate board?” So…….I’ve decided to write a book about that very topic to help professionals earn board seats.

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure to present to Austin’s “Women In Technology” on what I’ve learned thus far about winning a board seat. The audience was full of amazingly talented women and their questions were superb. Thank you, Austin Women In Technology!

Stay tuned… I’ll be posting more loyalty tips soon!!!

Runners Socks!

Jill Griffin speaking with Swiftwick retailers at The Running Eventess. Let me offer three resources to help you win: 1) Visit the and sign up for the blog and e-mail coaching on building customer loyalty.  Sign up every member of your floor staff and company to get this free resource. 2) Be among the first 25 retailers who read this and ask for it – we’ll send you a free copy of her book. Please email our Director of Dealer Marketing, Hunter Hall at 3) This week in the New York Times, a common sense article features “Underdog Against Amazon, Best Buy Charges Ahead” and chronicles the hotly contested holiday sales of this season.  The titanic battle between the

Jill Griffin speaking with Swiftwick retailers.

I recently partnered with Swiftwick, a premier “runner’s sock” made in southern USA!!!! It was tons of fun to meet Swiftwick’s retailers and talk “Customer Loyalty” at Runners World trade show in Austin.

See the article here!

“Nascar” Muffler and The Wisdom of My Neighborhood

My Austin, Texas neighborhood has a Yahoo “list serve” and neighbors use it to post messages. Not long ago, a neighbor, John, started a thread about the very loud muffler on the car of the newspaper delivery guy who services our neighborhood around 6 am each morning. (Yes, some of my neighbors–myself included–still love to read our morning newspapers the old fashion way!) The post gently pointed out the fact this loud muffler could be heard blocks away. Neighbors concurred…adding funny anecdotes about how the “Nascar” sounding muffler, like clock work, unleashed “chain reactions” every morning in their homes. Soon, John posted again– writing that he was thinking of contacting our local newspaper about the loud muffler. THIS IS WHERE THE STORY GETS INTERESTING.

Several neighbors wrote posts supporting John’s idea about calling the paper. But suddenly a neighbor posted the fateful words: “And then we’ll have an UNEMPLOYED newspaper carrier.” I was on email at the time watching this thread. With that “warning” post, time seemed to stand still while our neighborhood absorbed the prospect of that unintended consequence. Then the magic began to happen.…neighbor after neighbor began to pledge “muffler repair” donations. John volunteered to oversee the collection and get it in the hands of the driver. Bottomline, in a few days nary a muffler sound!

My favorite new book is called “How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything” by Dov Seidman. Dov teaches us that in today’s world of unprecedented transparency and increasing interconnectedness, it is no longer WHAT you do, but HOW you do what you do.

Loyalty Lesson:
Says Dov, “WHATS are commodities, easily duplicated and reversed engineered. Sustainable advantage and enduring success for organizations (and neighborhoods) and the people who work for (or live in) them, lie in the realm of HOW.” Want to stand out in your market space? Take a close look at your HOW.

Guest Blog From My Esteemed Colleague, Chip Bell

The Innovative Power of Terms of Endearment

My mother just turned 97! She obviously has a large storehouse of life memories she enjoys sharing. She is still active and sharp. One story she recently told…one I had never heard…involved her imploring her dad to talk her mother into changing her mind about a decision my mother did not like. My mother was apparently the apple of my grandfather’s eye as a little girl.

“Oh no, child,” he fondly told my mother, “I can’t ask Ms. Christian to do that…she’s my cook!” My mother related his statement as one of the greatest expressions of devotion. My grandparents were married over sixty years and died on the same day.

“Words are the voice of the heart,” said Confucius. “I’m so sorry” are words that can turn an angry customer into a friend. “Thank you” are words that tell a customer his or her business is appreciated. “What do you think?” can make an employee feel valued.” “How can I help?” can transform an acquaintance into a neighbor.

But, the innovative side of terms of endearment is when they are used in an unexpected fashion…when they pleasantly surprise. Words might form a sincere compliment or a pose a query that reflects sincere curiosity. When I was checking out of the grocery store after buying the items on my “assigned” list, the grocery bagger…completely out of the blue…said, “I’ll bet you are a great cook!” It was a verbal reach to warmly connect; an attempt to make the moment more than mundane. And, it made me smile and forget the drudgery of chores.

“Thank you for being my customers,” I overheard the Pure Atlanta clothing store manager say to a group of prospects who seemed to be loitering in his Lenox Square Mall store. The uniqueness of his statement was that his respectful expression of gratitude was directed at three teenagers each with very loud dispositions, extremely baggy pants, and earplugs hooked to their Iphones. Out of earshot of the manager, one young man remarked to his buddies, “Man, we gotta buy something here!” As they left the check-out counter, the store manager shot point blank one final blast of endearment: “Gentlemen, please visit me again.”

“It’s only words, but words are all I have, to take your heart away,” sang the Bee Gees.
As service providers with an unending quest for customer loyalty, we might have more than words, but the right words can be powerful in delivering an innovative surprise that can take our customers’ hearts away.

Chip R. Bell is a customer loyalty consultant, keynote speaker and bestselling author. His newest book is The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service. His new book can be purchased at; Chip can be contacted at

July 4th on the 2nd!

On last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, historian David McCullough shared the fact July 2nd was the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.
In the spirit of “historical correctness,” you’re getting my July 4th greeting today!

I’m so grateful to live in America. I didn’t do anything to earn my citizenship. I simply had the deep fortune to be born in this great country.

As you know, when our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they literally put their lives on the line to birth this country and give us
the amazing freedoms we exercise every day. One of my favorite quotes is from John Hancock, who signed his name large and said, “There, I guess King
George will be able to read that without his spectacles!”

This week, as you celebrate the 4th, please know I count my blessings for your friendship and the privilege to live alongside you in this amazing country!

God Bless America!


What Thom Friedman Taught Me

I just returned from The New York Times Global Forum in San Francisco, hosted by Thom Friedman, NYT columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner. Thom did not disappoint, nor did his slate of speakers!

Thom led off the day with a amazing keynote entitled “The Next New World.” He gave savvy advice for firms who want to excel in this new “Hyper-Connected World.” Here’s five of his how to’s:

1. “Average” is officially over. The market will kill your business if you do not bring something extra to the party.
2. Think like an immigrant. Have “paranoid” optimism. Always be hungry.
3. Think like an artisan. Create unique value that’s as if “you carved your initials in your work.” In other words, it can’t be duplicated.
4. Always be in beta. In other words, you must stay in a mode of continuous improvement on your product or service.
5. Think like a waitress at Perkins….”I gave you extra fruit.” She knew she needed to communicate that fact to earn her proper tip. She was being entrepreneurial.

Bottom line, Thom told us to always be investing in ourselves. To make it in this new age, we must “invent” our way out of the crowd and into a unique space where we offer value our buyers cannot find elsewhere.

Newsday Article-Customer Loyalty

Here is the link to an article in Newsday about customer loyalty to which I contributed.

Customer Loyalty Lessons From the Obama Playbook

This year’s Loyalty Maker® Award goes to the Obama campaign. Here’s why:

Stunningly smart use of voter data helped the Obama campaign win undecided voters and keep past supporters in the tent. Here’s a brief look inside the campaign’s playbook.

Unified Database. Beginning 18 months before the election, the campaign hired data scientists to build a single massive system that merged the information collected from fund raisers, pollsters, field workers, consumer data bases and social media with the main Democratic voter files.

Cookie Trail. Since the 2008 election, the campaign used cookies to track Obama supporters on line, factoring in 80 pieces of information about each person from age, sex, race to voting history.

Insight. The campaign’s chief data scientist, Rayid Ghani, gained recognition at Accenture for his ability to filter large amounts of transaction data through algorithms to “understand” why customers buy. He applied this same approach to massive voter data to discern what messages appealed to what voters.

Persuasion. Multivariate tests identified issues and positions that could shift undecided voters. Using “persuasion scores” the campaign focused its volunteer calls and other outreach efforts on those voters likely to change their minds as a result. Likewise, these tests also guided the choice on which policy messages individual voters should be exposed to.

Data In Action:

A $40,000-a-ticket email inviting Obama supporters to dinner in June at the New York home of Sarah Jessica Parker had seven versions: some mentioning another fund-raiser that night—a concert by Mariah Carey; others mention Ms. Parker was a mother, and still others that Anna Wintour, Vogue editor, would be at the dinner. Who got which email? Information about each fundraising prospect and their probable reaction to different messages drove the decision.

Loyalty Maker® Lesson:
Whether wooing voters or customers, data matters. It’s the new frontier for creating customized experiences and winning deep-seated loyalty.

Start now to think carefully about what customer data you need and how to get it.
It’s a lesson the Romney campaign learned the hard way.

Jill Griffin is a “Harvard Working Knowledge” author of three books on customer loyalty. She serves as public board director for Luby’s Cafeterias, Fuddruckers and Jimmy Buffets’ Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants. Microsoft, Dell, Marriott Hotels, Ford, Toyota, Wells Fargo, IBM, Subaru are a few of the clients served since she hung out her “Loyalty Maker” shingle in 1988. Jill delivers customized keynotes worldwide.

Loyalty Lessons From Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) knows a thing or two about building customer loyalty.

ACL is the longest-running popular music series in American television history. Since 1974, ACL has hosted iconic performers who, in turn, have delivered memorable music experiences (and lifetime bragging rights) for their lucky audiences.

Last week I met a key Loyalty Maker: Scott Newton, ACL’s exclusive in-house photographer for over 30 years. I stood in rapt attention as Scott toured Austin Convention & Visitor Bureau guests and me through his stunning photographs of lengendary artists performing on the revered ACL stage. (The photo gallery is part of the new state-of-art ACL performance hall adjacent to the W Hotel in downtown Austin.)

From such greats as Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and B.B. King to contemporary performers including Coldplay, John Mayer, Elvis Costello, Pearl Jam, and Nora Jones, Scott’s photographs exude the excitement and energy of these uber-talented performers.

As the tour continued and Scott shared his insights, I realized I was in the presence of a gifted Loyalty Maker whose photography made it possible for all of us to experience a magical on-stage moment from a legendary performer.

Scott describes his calling this way:

Scott Newton“To come up with an image that conveys as much as possible what the experience was like, on our stage, during the performance. All of this with one final image, rendered into two dimensions of height and breath, and unlike video without the benefit of time and moving images. And oh, most importantly, come up with a good likeness that the artist and his management would approve of.”


Here are a few “experience” lessons I learned from Scott:

1. Think: “decisive moments” when capturing experiences. Scott shared that, on stage, Ray Charles used the idea that he didn’t know what he looked like to get very exaggerated with his body as he danced to make the spirit moving through him visible to every one. Says Scott, “When I was out of position, I saw him briefly arch his back and stomp his foot, singing triumphantly, visually encapsulating all that he was. I waited for him to do it again. I still remember that click as if it were yesterday.”

2. See the experience “deliverers” as one organic whole. Says Scott, “When I am crafting a band-shot, I try to see all the members as one organic whole, connected by invisible strings of music. As photographer, you have to be aware of everyone, and it helps if you can feel the beat they’re moving to so you can anticipate exactly when the decisive moment will come, there’s an art to it. I try to take occasional breaks and do little dances, to get in synch, but that’s me.”

3. Break some rules. Says Scott, “John Fogerty is a ball of energy and fire. To me, it’s like his spirit is just too big for his body when he is performing. The music is amazing, and then he starts bounding up and down while belting it out. So I looked for a moment where he was literally coming out of the top of the frame and, click, there he is, pushing the edge of the envelope.”

4. Work for It. Scott shared that he often shoots 2,000 pictures to get the “one.” He sets his bar high, and diligently works to nail an extraordinary shot.

Loyalty Lesson: Creating memorable customer experiences that inspire buyers to return again and again is critical to building customer loyalty.

Look in unexpected places for Loyalty Makers. And learn from them. That’s often where the freshest, newest insights for building customer experiences reside.


What I Learned in Eastern Europe

My middle name is “travel.” This summer my destinations were Budapest, Vienna and Prague. I came back counting my “business blessings.” Communism, socialism, and dictatorships have costs the people in these countries so much!

My dad was a WWII vet and fought in a later wave of the Normandy invasion. I remember as a child sitting with him at our kitchen table overlooking our grassy backyard which had a clothes line, a dog house and sand box. He commented on how “beautiful” it all was. At the time, I didn’t “get” it. But now I do. America is a wonderful place to call home and millions around the world would trade places with us in a second. God bless the USA!