I think a variety of factors drive loyalty, and sometimes the selling/providing organization has little or nothing to do with the loyalty received. Brand loyalty is a prime example: "My mother always used _____ and now I do, too." A personal example is that I grew up eating one particular brand of peanut butter. I've never considered trying any other kind. I don't know if there is another brand that is superior to the one that I purchase, and I really don't care to find out. I'm very happy with my mother's choice, thus it will always be my choice, too.
In the Customer Service sector, I have always found that how we approach, handle and settle disputes drives loyalty. I can purchase a set of tires anywhere, but if there is a problem, how that gets resolved and how the organization makes me feel about the transaction will result in either my loyalty or my telling everyone I know how unhappy I am.
Further, once an organization has gained my loyalty, pricing rarely becomes a factor for me. I am very willing to pay more for a product or service knowing that if I have an issue with it the organization will treat me professionally and respectfully and fairly.
Then there is the loyalty that can come out of one-on-one relationships. This type of loyalty is a bit more rare, but it does exist. I've worked for an organization where I have settled a dispute that resulted in the customer becoming a raving fan. Upon going to a different organization that offered a different product and service, that customer came along because of our established relationship. They felt that they could trust me and my choices.
Integrity and trust also drive loyalty. Mel Gibson is a great example. When he let his integrity slip, he quickly lost a huge share of his public's support and trust.
I believe that except for the loyalty of "this is what I've always purchased," bottom line is that loyalty is driven by the human factor. How we act and react, how we value and treat others, how we impact people...that's the real key. And because we can't be all things to all people, it becomes impossible to adequately and accurately measure. The human element is very intangible, very finicky. What works one day with one person may absolutely backfire with someone else.
So when it comes to delivering service and garnering loyalty, the Customer Service Manager must be a good judge of character, and have the right people in the right position. Our staff are the key to the success of the organization, and we need to develop and nurture them, and ensure that they have the tools they need to be as effective as possible.
Thanks for letting me share.