Allegiance pledging is often done through a symbol. We say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…and, to the republic for which it stands.” We have religious symbols—a cross, a star of David, a statue–to which we pledge allegiance. It is not the cross, star or statue but what each represents that is the real target of our allegiance. It is not the gold ring on the left hand that captures our allegiance, but rather the relationship it represents.
Customers often learn of our allegiance by symbols. No, it is not your brand—that’s your symbol for your product or offering. Symbols are everywhere. Customers interpret your allegiance by how fast your check-out line moves, how user-friendly your systems, how enthusiastic your customer facing people, or how effective your service recovery manages customer betrayal.
Like allegiance to a country, faith or marriage has both obvious and subtle symbols, your symbols of allegiance to your customers are equally blatant or elusive. It could be the “current charge” font size on a bill being much smaller than the “charge after a certain date”, enticing the customer to inadvertently pay the larger amount giving you an interest-free loan. Or, a check-writing customer identification process that treats the customer who has been with you for many years with the same suspicion as a brand new customer.
What are the symbols your customers use to ascertain your allegiance to them? How can you get the customer to teach you what symbols matter most?