Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work (3)


Customer Loyalty Drives Profitability and Growth

To maximize profit, managers have pursued the Holy Grail of becoming number one or two in their industries for nearly two decades. Recently, however, new measures of service industries like software and banking suggest that customer loyalty is a more important determinant of profit. (See Frederick F. Reichheld and W. Earl Sasser, Jr., “Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services,” HBR September–October 1990.) Reichheld and Sasser estimate that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can produce profit increases from 25% to 85%. They conclude that quality of market share, measured in terms of customer loyalty, deserves as much attention as quantity of share.

Banc One, based in Columbus, Ohio, has developed a sophisticated system to track several factors involved in customer loyalty and satisfaction. Once driven strictly by financial measures, Banc One now conducts quarterly measures of customer retention; the number of services used by each customer, or depth of relationship; and the level of customer satisfaction. The strategies derived from this information help explain why Banc One has achieved a return on assets more than double that of its competitors in recent years.

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