Build Customer Loyalty through Participation

church picnic“Dinner on the ground” was code for participation in small towns in the South when we were growing up. While this event went with all family reunions, its most special form of community occurred after certain church services. “Dinner on the ground” was a super event for little boys to run, holler and pull ponytails pretty much unsupervised since their caretakers were occupied with set-up and cleanup. For the women, it was a time to show off a new recipe; men told tales of the one that got away over sweet iced tea. Everyone went home after eating way too much fried chicken and peach pie.

But, this “everyone brings something” event brought people closer and enabled them to feel more interdependent. It was community in its purest form. And, it was surely a sad day when someone got the bright idea of “just calling Big Al and having him bring the barbecue with all the trimmings.”

Wise service providers attract customer loyalty by making the “dinner on the ground” side of service as inclusive, memorable and wholesome as a church picnic. Log onto and you are given a special opportunity in five clicks to create your own signature perfume. It’s more than self-service; it is partner serving with partner. Ebay’s highly popular IPhone app was shaped by input from their VOC (Voice of the Customer) program. My local adult beverage store sports a signature bourbon on display. It has been a mega-hit for Oconee Cellars. Why? It was the product of taste tests by scores of the store’s customers.

Listen to learn; customers will indirectly give you cues on ways involve them. Only ask for what is reasonable, a request appropriate to make of a loyal customer. Make the request the way your mother taught–the “may I” and “please” courtesies we learned growing up. And, never forget to express your gratitude.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this prelude to National Customer Service Week! It kicks off on Monday, October 5 and I’ll be back with more tips to inspire your service next week, and every week.

Photo Credit: Stevan Sheets via Flickr

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Dr. Chip R. Bell is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Global Gurus ranked him in 2018 the #2 keynote speaker in the world on customer service; #1 in North America. He also is the author of numerous national and international best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Managing Knock Your Socks off Service, Magnetic Service, The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service and Customers as Partners. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

His newest customer service book is the award-winning, best-selling book Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

Dr. Bell has appeared live on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, NPR Marketplace and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company.


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