Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Can Loyalty be purchased or must it be earned?

Loyalty is priceless and Is neither sold nor bought. Alas, how few who seem to know Its value as they ought." Thornton W. Burgess

Over many years in business (18), and many transactions (thousands), with many customers (hundreds), Zerowait has learned that customer loyalty is earned not purchased. As
Darrell Zahorsky says - "Forget about customer relationship management software, customer loyalty programs and cards. Customer loyalty can't be bought. It must be earned."

So I was surprised to see that NetApp is going to try to buy Loyalty from its resellers now,

"To promote loyalty from its channel, NetApp has packed the programme with many attractive purchase conditions and bonuses. The company is keen to point out though that the new programme is more than just a list of partner gifts and its main focus is product know-how, which it aims to improve through a comprehensive curriculum of education and certification training. Partners new to the programme should work their way through the ranks starting as authorised, becoming gold, platinum and platinum elite until they finally reach the heights and accompanied rewards of being named as a star partner."

NetApp has changed directions on its resellers many times in the past and it looks like its newest direction is to try to buy them off. Manufacturers need to provide resellers a long term commitment to ensure their profitability, not a continually changing kaleidoscope of changing programs, pricing schedules, and packages.

Manufacturers need to understand that resellers and integrators need to have a long term partner that can be relied on, because they are making a long term commitment to learn how to integrate a reliable strategic solution for their customers. How is an end user to judge the long term reliability of a partner that a manufacturer recruits with "attractive purchase conditions and bonuses." ?



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