As I was writing about the “hit and run” web traffic phenomenon (“Traffic for Traffic’s Sake“), it made me think about the value of loyalty. That post addressed social network traffic and how many visitors from sites like Digg don’t provide any value to a web site because they simply enter quickly and leave just as fast, likely never to return.
In the current environment, it has become so easy to bounce from one information provider to the next. To swap products or services with very low switching costs. To find new bloggers to read, new friends to talk with.
In general, these are all good things to be able to do. But at the same time, we should all continue to value loyalty and trusting relationships. I’ve been fortunate to have those ties on a personal and business level. My wife and I have known each other for 15 years. I’ve worked with my primary business partners for 15 years.
But I also try to cultivate those relationships with companies with which I do business. For instance, all of the companies I have founded have used the same managed hosting provider, dating back some 7 or 8 years now. In the hosting game, that’s an eternity. But that relationship has paid off as I, and later my tech teams, got to know and work with that company as it has grown considerably over the years. I’m confident they give great service to all of their customers, but I’m just as sure that they go the extra mile for us as one of their earliest and longest clients.
Those who know me well, also know that I work to build relationships based on loyalty at restaurants in the cities I frequent. For example, in Washington, there’s a great restaurant I visit almost every night I’m in town. Over time, I have gotten to know everyone who works there and many of the other regular customers. Obviously, they appreciate my business, but I appreciate the food and service they provide. And when I’m in a pinch and need to accommodate an important business or personal function, they’re always ready to help meet whatever crazy request I have.
I can’t put a price on the personal or business relationships I’ve cited here — nor any of the many others that I didn’t mention. But I can tell you that I’ve taken real value from all of them on a variety of levels. Some have obviously been financial, but others provide psychic value of one sort or another.
In a society in which change is simple and often encouraged, we would all do well to think carefully about the value of loyalty.