Customer loyalty is the name of the game

Customer loyalty is the name of the game

The beauty of working for a very large marketing communications business is that I get exposed to world’s best practices and people through the global Ogilvy network.

One of those people is the Chief Operating Officer of the STW Group, Mr Chris Savage.

He runs a brilliant training course for the account managers (salespeople in ad agencies) on How To Become A Trusted Advisor.

In many parts of the advertising world there is not a lot of loyalty shown to agencies – if sales are crap, get rid of the agency. Fortunately, this is not so much the case in the B2B arena, but a very common attitude in the retail sector.

The key to maintaining long term clients in our industry is not only continuing to deliver great creative work, but also developing a relationship based on trust.

In my experience over the years this is a common platform for long term relationships across all industries.

So how do we train our people to develop trust based relationships and thereby improve loyalty and retain clients?

At STW we use a model called CRISP.

It is a simple model that is equally applicable whether you are selling marketing services, forklifts or widgets. It gives us a way to break down the different elements of trust to the point where we can build specific actions to develop better, deeper, long term relationships with customers.

CRISP stands for Credibility/Reliability/Intimacy/Self-orientation/Passion.

To become a Trusted Advisor, you need to do CRISP’s five pillars brilliantly:

1. Build credibility – you must build a perception of credibility with your customers so they feel they can trust what you say, that you are genuine experts in your field, and are outstanding at what you do.

2. Build reliability – you must be perceived as totally reliable, and seen as a firm which delivers on its promises. You do what you say you will do. You communicate strongly and regularly with your customers. No surprises. On time. On budget. Honest. Genuine. True to your word.

3. Build intimacy – you must build a close, sincere relationship that extends beyond the day-to-day imperatives of getting great work done. The customer has to feel comfortable with you as people, and trusting of your intent.

As David Ogilvy said: “A client does not care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.”

4. Avoid self-orientation (at all costs) – the customer must believe your every motivation is about them and their success. Your motives must be around delivering great outcomes for the customer. Never about self-serving interests. It’s all about the customer ... always.

5. Deliver passion – do everything with enthusiasm and optimism. Be a “can do” person. Be a ray of sunlight in your customer’s lives. Really care about that customer and its fortunes. Feel it in your heart.

Harold Burson, the founder of Burson- Marsteller, once told Chris Savage: “When someone hits my client with an ice-pick, I bleed.”

So, what to do next?

Hold a session with your sales leaders and teams. Look at each of these five pillars. How do we build credibility with clients? How are we scoring today on this? How can we improve it? Then move on to reliability, then intimacy, etc.

Do it generally looking at how your business behaves, and then do a similar analysis, using the five pillars, against your key clients. How are we doing on credibility with client X? How can we improve that? What’s the 50 Day Plan to do just that?

Now reliability- how are we scoring with client X on reliability? Etc. You get the picture.

Karl Boothroyd is the founder and CEO of IMA, a specialist B2B marketing agency. IMA is owned by Australia’s largest marketing communications company, The STW Group. Karl can be contacted at or 02 4627 8011

Related news & editorials

  1. 07.03.2018
    by      In
    Ross Grassick argues that true value can only be judged by considering whole of life costs.
    There are many products today that are marketed on price, and it is all too easy to be fooled into believing that when a piece of equipment is cheap it is good value. Forklifts are definitely among the... Read More
  2. Peter J Mills
    by      In
    Is industrial copywriting different from that done for consumer companies? Not in principle, although it has some unique elements, which may require specialist skills.
    First, it probably won’t be read casually on mobiles or tablets. Desktops are likely to be the norm, as the readers are... Read More
  3. 16.02.2018
    by      In
    Due to come into effect in 2019, the proposed changes for NCC 2019, which will directly impact the building and construction industry, are now available online.
    Between now and 13th April, the public and private sector have been invited to make comment on the changes proposed by the Australian... Read More
  4. Brent Whyte
    by      In
    Many industrial companies and their suppliers are becoming aware of the power and cost-efficiency of positive editorial publicity generated by PR. But there are traps for new players, reports industry PR authority Brent Whyte, whose company Whyte Public Relations has had material published locally... Read More