LOYALTY - A key ingredient for long term
Loyalty is a theme that’s been on my mind as I mark my ten-year anniversary with HighPoint which is the longest I’ve been with any organisation. It outstrips my six and a half years with HP at the start of my journey by some way.
It has been a lot of fun as I’ve had the opportunity to build a business with great friends, but it’s also been an incredibly hard and enlightening journey as we have established a presence for HighPoint in the UK. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and for all of the amazing support I’ve had along the way as we have focused intentionally on serving each other and our customers as key priorities.
As I pass the ten-year landmark it feels timely to do some reflection; 2020 should have been our hardest year yet but against the odds, it became an amazing year for us which has prompted me to dig deeper into the reasons for that success.
Please read on but in summary I feel like loyalty and service are at the heart of our achievements because everything we have done from the start of the journey has been about focusing on who we are so that we build for the future with the customers we serve. Many of the customers that we serve today have been with us for a very long time. It’s their loyalty and belief that has fostered fantastic, enduring business relationships for HighPoint, and has also delivered new customers for us in the form of referrals and recommendations.
Making the right choice of which technology partners to work with is critical for our customers’ success and it got me thinking about how important investment decisions in life or business are made these days, and how relevant loyalty is to the purchasing process.
Do you buy from the first ad that shows up in a google search? Or do you spend ages researching, reading reviews and seeking recommendations from those you trust?
If you’ve had a good experience before, would you bother to shop around for a cheaper deal and risk a worse experience? I guess it’s possible you would in the midst of a challenging economy where the recession could be squeezing budgets, but personally when the chips are down, the outcome is critical and my reputation is on the line, I am most likely to select a vendor, partner or service provider that I trust and who I believe has the track record to deliver.
And I’m not alone. According to research from Oracle, 89% of customer relationships begin due to the poor customer experience offered by a competitor. It’s very hard to move beyond and get over a bad experience, with research from Parature suggesting that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. I doubt that many of us are likely to hang around to be disappointed 12 times when you could move to an alternative vendor you trust.
And of course, when you’ve had a really good or really bad customer experience do you keep it to yourself? Most of us don’t and this information is hugely influential to others. McKinsey suggests that up to 50% of all purchasing decisions are determined by word of mouth. So reputation – or what’s said about you when you’re not in the room – is everything.
As I mentioned, 2020, with all its twists and turns and multiple challenges ended up as a really successful year for the team at HighPoint UK and I like to think, our customers. We were committed to delivering for several long-standing clients as well as successfully bringing some new ones onboard. And it’s definitely the power of a good reputation and positive recommendations that helped us secure those new clients.
We work incredibly hard as a team to turn new clients into long-term relationships by delivering that sometimes elusive factor called ‘value’ to those customers. As I covered in my last blog, we do this by ensuring that every member of our multi-disciplinary team is aware of, focused on and accountable to the outcomes that a customer needs and that those outcomes are clearly documented and articulated to everyone involved in the customer engagement.
In complex projects that’s not always easy to achieve and things can go wrong, but it’s the way that you and your team reacts to potential difficulties that creates loyalty. Rare Group has completed research into attitudes towards customer loyalty and they have found that for 83% of customers, trust is a determining factor towards loyalty. So that means trusting a partner or service provider to deliver on their promise, go the extra mile even against the odds, or to put something right when it seemed to be going wrong.
Likeability is an even more critical factor dictating loyalty with 86% of customers saying it’s key. Of course, likeability is a pretty intangible thing to achieve. It’s not just about being a ‘nice person’. Likeability can also go hand in hand with being honest, straightforward, respectful, listening generously, and also pushing back when it’s in the best interests of a project. It means doing the right thing – always – by our customers. These are some of the critical fundamentals that HighPoint bakes into our values as a company. We call this The HighPoint Way – a set of 33 fundamentals that we all live and work by every day. Our intentional daily and weekly focus on this makes a difference and the amount of customers that ask for a copy of the HighPoint way is amazing, we want them to hold us accountable to the values it articulates.
It’s no surprise then to hear that our Chief Executive, Mike Mendiburu, also serves as Chief Culture Officer, ensuring that we all live and breathe these values in every single customer interaction to deliver legendary service. And I really believe that when the going gets tough – as it very often does – the high levels of trust that you’ve earned over time are what gets you through.
It’s for this reason that I believe in investing in relationships for the long term. As UK Sales Director, this doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in securing new customers. Of course I am. But it means that we’re most interested in working with customers who are seeking a longer-term relationship with us, a partnership, not a one hit wonder. It’s in partnership that we can deliver the most value and generate the kind of loyalty that stands the test of time and ensures we are there to go the extra mile when the customer inevitably needs us to.
There’s been lots of research into this from the perspective of building sustainable business. Bain & Co’s research shows that a long-term customer spends 67% more as they reach the 36 month point in a relationship than they do in the first 6 months working with a provider so clearly the opportunity to grow a relationship over time can be valuable to both parties.
Also relevant to the topic of developing trust and loyalty is how you convey a clear understanding of what you deliver for customers. Often in the saturated world of the VAR it’s pretty hard to determine true differentiation in our service offering or capability. After all, a customer could choose to partner with any one of several VARs to implement a project for them. Instead, we choose to focus on the distinctiveness of who we are, how we work and how we partner with customers – all the stuff that’s encompassed in the HighPoint Way. How we work is even more intrinsically important than what we deliver. And it relates to our customers being in it with us as true partners rather than just being the recipient of a technology implementation.
As we continue to navigate the unique challenges of the pandemic together with a biting recession and a fast-moving digital revolution, value and sustainable growth will only be achieved in a service-led business by establishing long term high-achieving partnerships with our clients. A joint set of values and a shared vision of success is critical to how we spot these long-term partners, which will translate into new opportunities and experiences for us all. Following our partnership with Stewart Haas Racing and our sponsorship of Chase Briscoe the opportunity to build new long term relationships has gone into overdrive (pardon the pun) and it’s also opened up new collaborative lines of partnership with key strategic partners like Cisco who will be featured in a race in the not-too-distant future. I will keep you all posted on our progress in future blogs!
To talk more about building a long-term relationship with HighPoint to help you achieve your business objectives, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, here’s to 10 momentous years with HighPoint and many more to come!