This post was written by Dave Whiteside, account executive, Large Law Firm segment

Have you ever really thought about the difference between a satisfied client, and a loyal client? In November, at a Legal Marketing Association conference in Charlotte, my friend Peter Johnson of Law Practice Consultants was speaking on the subject of “Achieving Client Loyalty.” Peter made some points that have really stuck in my mind. Like when a song gets stuck in your head and you just can’t shake it. I thought maybe writing about them might help get that song out of my head and put it into yours!

Peter started by giving loyalty a real definition. “Client loyalty is the continued and regular patronage of a business in the face of alternative economic activities and competitive attempts to disrupt the relationship.”I had never thought about that. I guess for me, loyalty fell into the same bucket as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography; “I know it when I see it.”

Seeing a written definition started the wood burning, and then Peter made a point that:“We can identify loyal clients, but we don’t know how to generate them.” We don’t know how to generate them? For some reason I want to try and prove Peter wrong on this point. But I don’t seem to be able to come up with a compelling argument. My ideas, like; responsiveness, honesty, fairness, and do what you say you will all seem to be items that might make a client “satisfied,” but would they really make them loyal? Would any of these motivate someone to choose me and my offering over a competitor who may be less expensive, or have as good or better a solution?

My resolution for 2013 is to define what I can do to generate loyal clients. I know who my current loyal clients are, or at least I think I do. I wonder if I have some I don’t realize are loyal. I want to know for sure who the loyal ones are, and then begin to grow the group.

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