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Let me start by saying that I’m a Zealot for Publix, so posting on Kroger is certainly not something I’ll plan to do often. However, this article on loyalty got my attention.

They say the cost to acquire a new customer is five to ten times more than keeping a current customer. Kroger has done the math and dedicated themselves to creating loyal customers by creating more than people just looking for a discount.

Read the below excerpt from Tim Manner’s “reveries” blog. What do you think? Is Kroger creating loyal customers? Are they building Zealots for their brand?

“We don’t need to draw in others who don’t shop with us because the biggest opportunity is with our loyal customers,” says Kroger chief David Dillon in a Cincinnati Enquirer article by Laura Braverman (10/8/09). David says Kroger realized this almost ten years ago, and has been on a path ever since “to put the customer first, and permanently.” Most famously, Kroger engaged with London-based dunnhumby to build a database of 45 million shoppers, using the data to “create advertising campaigns and provide targeted coupons to its most loyal customers.”

Click here to read the full story

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Business Week published their third annual rankings of the top 25 brand leaders in customer service, an insightful study with a myriad of different ways to dig into the findings. So dig we did.

Interestingly enough in this tough economy, this years top 25 scored  higher overall than those brands featured in 2008. Perhaps this can be credited to the brands who have focused in on their most Zealous supporters & loyal fans. You’ll notice a very important point-in-case as to why “customer satisfaction” and “likely to recommend” are not one in the same. If you click to sort by the top rankings in customer service, you’ll get a far different assortment than if you click to sort by likeliness to recommend. And this difference can help us to see the difference and power between our Zealots and our supporters.

Publix is a fascinating study in the Business Week survey.  They rank right along Lexus, the Ritz-Carlton and and Jaguar, yet they deal with a much more diverse and mass customer group.  To maintain high ratings against the sheer volume of customers is indeed a tribute.  Yet, in terms of referral, they are significantly below Trader Joe’s.   Why?

Perhaps Publix has not honed their understanding of who their zealots are and what drives them.  It’s easy to say that low prices is the reason Trader Joe’s gets great referral rating, but most conversations about Trader Joe’s doesn’t go far without “Two Buck Chuck” – their low price wine.  The story isn’t just the price, it’s that it’s okay for “discerning” wine drinkers.   It’s a natural made “let me share a tip with you” story.  What is Publix story to its zealots?   They undoubtably have some.

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