Like nearly 1,000 other LMA members last Thursday morning, I listened to our conference opener keynote, James Kane, speak about “loyalty.”
It could be the best keynote I’ve ever heard in my life.
Loyalty is old news as a topic. But it clearly remains elusive, as evidenced by the 4,346 books that appear in an Amazon book search for “loyalty.” We love reading about it (or at least writing about it), and we hope that spending more time thinking and talking about it will move the loyalty needle to us over our personal and professional competitors. We believe we are loyal and we desperately want others to be loyal to us.
But are they? And are we?
Jim Kane described four relationship levels that are theoretically familiar to all of us, but I don’t think it’s human nature to analyze whether our friends/clients reside on one level or another. The four levels are as follows (and I am likely paraphrasing here, since I was furiously jotting down notes):
- On the bottom is “antagonistic” – or, “I hate you.” Ugh, we all want to avoid that.
- Next is “transactional.” Many lawyer/client and other relationships are like this. Essentially, you are viewed as “fine,” but the person isn’t loyal to you. They pay you for performing a service and they might be satisfied with you – but they aren’t loyal.
- Next up is “predisposed” – or “neutral.” It means the person likes you, but that could change if something bad happens.
- Finally, on the top is “loyal.” People give you opportunities when they are loyal, they are advocates for you and pass positive messages about you on to someone else.
He spoke about the difference between loyalty and satisfaction. Kane said that satisfaction is a mood, and it’s about the past. The person is focusing on what you’ve done for them and whether it satisfied them.
Loyalty, on the other hand, is a behavior and is about the future. It’s about what that person can (and will) do for you. Loyalty is anyone saying, “You make my life easier. You make my life better.” It is a measurement of what makes up your relationship beyond performing services and receiving money for it. Such as, trust, belonging, purpose and fulfillment.
Trust, Kane said, equals competency, character, consistency and capacity. All four of these elements must be present for someone to really trust you in a business setting. He added, “You get no credit for being trustworthy. It’s the expectation.” I recall him suggesting that people who say they are trustworthy are clearly missing the point about trust. He used Ford’s advertising slogan a few years ago as an example: “Quality is Job 1.” We all laughed when Kane admonished Ford for using a basic expectation that we consumers have (that the automobile that I am buying will actually and consistently go) as something special or unique.
He also used certain of Comcast’s value statements/promises as poor examples or ineffective ways of engendering trust. They are:
- “We will treat your home with courtesy and respect.”
- And, “We are here for you 24/7.”
Kane chided Comcast and said, “You don’t get credit for these things! You are a cable company! We expect this from you!”
The only way to build trust is to align your expectations with your client’s. Trust is simply all about understanding and managing expectations.
Here are a few more snippets from his presentation:
- When you make a donation to charity, give your clients credit. They are the ones that make it possible for you to make the donation.
- Recognition – how well do you really know your client? He said at least six times – with heat and passion – how much he hates US Airways. Kane, in his introduction said that he flew nearly 180,000 miles last year on US Airways. Not because he is loyal, but because, in Philadelphia, they hold him hostage.He noted that he doesn’t eat meat or chicken, but that every time he flies (always in first class), the flight attendant asks him, “Mr. Kane, what would you like for lunch/dinner – chicken or chicken?” Every time he tells them he doesn’t eat it and asks what else they have. They never make a note of it and never remember.
In contrast, he told a story about Singapore Airlines (a favorite of most experienced global travelers). When the flight attendant approached him about a beverage, he asked if they had Island Chill water. She said they did not. Two days later when he was back on Singapore Airlines for his return flight, the flight attendant brought him (yes, you guessed it) a bottle and said, “Mr. Kane, here is your Island Chill water.”
Singapore Airlines completely gets recognition. They care about it and demonstrate it in countless small, but meaningful ways.
That builds trust. That builds loyalty.
- Lawyers, when you have a client coming to your office, inform your receptionist so your client can be warmly greeted by name. The fact that your client is arriving at your office at the time your appointment is scheduled shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
- Be insightful. Look beyond the obvious. It’s the most critical thing you can do, Kane says.
- Be proactive. Don’t confuse being courteous with proactivity. Do something that your client never thought he needed. Here is an example: A man who forgot his mother’s birthday went into a flower shop. Sheepish, he needed to place a rush order. The flowers were delivered and mother was happy. That was the flower shop doing its job – and being courteous.Eleven months later, the forgetful man received a postcard from the florist reminding him of his mother’s birthday in a few days. That was proactive.
- Identity. This especially resonates with me. Share things about yourself, and your listeners will find something in you that they like (because it’s familiar to them).Kane started his presentation with a fast-paced series of declarative statements about himself, illustrated with pictures, logos and such. It was stunningly effective and funny, and the audience, one-by-one, bought into Jim Kane because each of us connected to something that he said. He revealed a lot about his childhood, background, sensibilities, likes and dislikes – it felt like the discharge of an automatic weapon in its rapid fire.
He said that if he took an MRI of our brains before he started that introduction, it would look like a flat-line. After it, the MRI would look entirely different — it would light up like a Christmas tree because of the various hormones that were activated in our brain chemistry. Because we were connecting with him.
The short description on his home page best synthesizes what he does:
Merging the worlds of business, neuroscience, and behavioral psychology, James Kane has been recognized as one of the leading researchers and consultants in the science of loyalty and the role it plays in human relationships and the communities we form.
He has two books: The Loyalty Switch, and a new one, Virtually Loyal (the secret to making your digital relationships loyal). I am buying both.