This is the third of a series of reports from Social Science Division leaders who attended the SLA Leadership Summit in St. Louis, Missouri, January 27-29, 2010.
Here, I summarize Jim Kane's keynote speech on loyalty:
Leadership Summit keynote speaker Jim Kane began his talk by sharing a little about himself – where he travels, where he lives, how much he hates the Yankees, even his social security number. Each of the tidbits got a reaction from different members of the audience, until by the end of his introduction, almost everyone had found something to connect with.
As a result of these connections, Kane told us, “your brain
takes a shortcut and says, ‘I like him – he’s just like me!’”
Kane, a “loyalty strategist” who helps organizations build strong relationships, explained the concept of loyalty and demonstrated how to use it.
Relationships, he said, fall into four major categories.
Antagonistic relationships are like those between Kane and the Yankees –
unlikely to change. Transactional relationships may appear to be strong, but
are really based more on convenience and satisfaction rather than true loyalty
– like your relationship with a gas station. You get gas, you pay for your gas,
and you’re satisfied – but you don’t really have any loyalty to the gas
Predisposed relationships are like the one you might have with your insurance company. You are satisfied with your insurance and see no reason to change, but this is not true loyalty. Truly loyal relationships are the equivalent of love in our personal lives, said Kane.
Most organizations focus on the wrong issues when they try
to work on loyalty, Kane explained. Measuring satisfaction is meaningless –
because, as in the gas station or insurance company example, it is not enough
to ensure loyalty. And trust is really just a base building block for loyalty.
The other pieces are purpose and belonging. Kane, who demonstrated throughout his talk that he had done his research about SLA and its members, told the audience that “belonging is what you need to work on.”
Kane detailed five elements of belonging: recognition,
insight, proactivity, identity, and inclusion.
He gave several examples of businesses that have used these
elements to create loyal relationships. One example: a man called and ordered
flowers to be delivered to his mother for her birthday – only he had missed her
birthday. The flower shop offered to take the blame for the flowers being late
– which seems enough like going above and beyond to most businesses. Then,
eleven months later, they sent the man an email to remind him about his
mother’s birthday. This anecdote seemed to create quite an impression on the
It’s possible to create this kind of connection in the virtual realm, too, Kane said. Think of the ways Amazon personalizes your user experience, from welcoming you by name to suggesting other products you might like, even to making negative customer reviews available.
Kane closed his talk with a slideshow highlighting information
he’d found about various Leadership Summit attendees – from Mary Ellen Bates’
marathon running to my own affiliation with Penn State. It left just about
everyone feeling included and recognized.
Kane’s slides were mostly visuals without a lot of explanation, but he created a handout that summarizes his presentation better than I have done here. SLA members can access the handout on the Leadership Summit website (log in required).
If you’re interested in Kane’s ideas about loyalty, you might also want to check out his book, The Loyalty Switch, or follow him on Twitter – where he’s used the #slaleads hashtag!