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The Golden Rule Is Key To Winning Loyalty and Growing Business

In a world starved of human interaction and connection as we made strides in the digital era, there’s never been a more important time to think about how we can humanise business and what that looks like. 

Enter The Golden Rule – a timeless principle that transcends cultures and religions, instructing us to treat others as we would like to be treated.

The Golden Rule is universal and is an age-old principle

In its simplest form, the Golden Rule instructs us to “treat people the way you would like to be treated.” Jesus expressed it in Matthew 7.12 as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.”

The universality of this principle is evident, with similar teachings found in various cultural and religious traditions:

  • The Torah says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbour as yourself.”
  • Confucian tradition: “Be loyal to the principles of your heart and treat others with the same loyalty.”
  • Hindu Mahabharata: “This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you.”
  • Buddha: “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others.”
  • The Prophet Muhammad: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.”

The Golden Rule is centuries old and is pretty much a universal belief. And adding in a little bit more of it to your business practices every day would make the world a much better place. Or, as one of my inspirations, Fred Reichheld writes in his book The Loyalty Effect, “Every time you treat someone right – the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes – you are building your reputation and making the world a better place, one life at a time.”

A numerical approach to measure success

Superior financial performance is best described as growth – growth in sales, profits, market share, cash, market capitalisation and so on. Growth is important. Everyone loves a winner, and customers want to be part of a success story. Growth also gives a company the freedom to act. This means it can hire top talent, pay well, reward success, invest in future growth and become a great place to be. 

At Eagle Eye, our growth objective is to be what is called a “rule of 40+” business. What does that mean? Well, the rule of 40 says you add your percentage sales growth and EBITDA margin percentage, and if that total is over 40, then you are doing well. In our last set of full-year results, we added our 36 per cent sales growth to our 20 per cent EBITDA margin to achieve a score of 56, which is heartening.

While this objective speaks to our ambition to scale through quality growth, it says absolutely nothing about how we do it. This is where Reichheld comes back into the picture. His thesis is simple but powerful: the best way to achieve growth is through loyalty. And it’s not just loyal customers, he’s also talking about loyal employees and shareholders as well. 

Let’s take a look:

  • Customers: Loyal customers are much more valuable than most businesses give them credit for. Research demonstrates that 20 per cent of customers will account for 60-80 per cent of sales. These customers extol the virtues of your product to others, they recommend and refer, and if you launch something new, they try it. They just get you and your products, and they are significantly more profitable. Most of a company’s work should be in knowing these customers, nurturing them and finding look-a-likes who can become like them.

    The trouble is that many businesses do the opposite. They spend too much time and money chasing an increasingly disloyal customer base, resulting in insufficient funds to nurture and reward those customers who matter. But the power of personalisation is starting to change that, with many businesses seeing the benefit of harnessing their customer data to get the right message in front of the right customers, flexing their marketing investment on specific customers and moving away from “spray and pray” tactics.

  • Employees:
Loyal employees just get it. They understand the story, the mission, teammates and the customer base. They know how to contribute effectively and what it takes to get the job done. They are more productive. Being part of a winning team makes them happy, and a happy workforce translates into a positive experience for your customers.

    But creating engaged and loyal employees doesn’t happen by accident. They are the product of good leadership and thoughtful day-to-day management. It’s about creating an environment where individuals can enjoy their work, get on well with their boss and their team and be satisfied to do their job well.

  • Shareholders: Loyal shareholders back management. They believe in the story. If the results align with their expectations, the forecasts are believable and the plans to deliver look sensible, you will gain shareholder loyalty. You’ll hold onto it by ensuring that you under claim and over-deliver, never disappoint, make the shareholders money and make them feel smart for having picked your stock in the first place.
    If you can build a loyal shareholder base, they will support your plans. They will also give you permission to do the right things for customers and employees, so you can earn their loyalty. What does this have to do with the Golden Rules? 

Remember, the destination for a successful business is growth. The vehicle by which growth can and should be delivered is through loyalty. And the fuel that powers the vehicle is The Golden Rule. 

It’s the way people need to behave to be most likely to create value and earn loyalty. Treat customers like employees and shareholders, the way you would like to be treated, and your business will grow.

Loyalty begins with employees

Following this approach to the loyalty mission also offers one clear, practical advantage: you can start with the piece of the puzzle you have the most control over. And as you’ll see below, the impact of your work in this space is relatively easy to measure. 

For example, at Eagle Eye, we have used the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) system for several years. Each quarter (we run our entire business on a quarterly cadence), every member of the team is asked to answer two simple questions alongside a free text box where they can provide additional feedback should they wish:

  1. How likely are you to recommend Eagle Eye as a place to work?
  2. How likely are you to recommend Eagle Eye’s products and services?

Employees rate the company on a scale from 1 to 10, with ten being the most likely. We then calculate our eNPS scores using Reichheld’s method. In our most recent quarter, we achieved scores of +68 and +69, which are exceptionally high compared to industry benchmarks. 

We also participate in the UK’s Best Companies survey, which provides additional data points to illustrate how we’re doing. In the most recent rankings published in Q4 2023, Eagle Eye rose 13 places, ranking as the UK’s 7th best company to work for. We also placed in the Top 10 in four further categories. Both these rankings and our eNPS scores illustrate the success of our ‘Purple’ way of working, ensuring that our values of Integrity, Excellence, Passion, Teamwork, Innovation and Kindness guide our evolution.  

DIAL-ing into loyalty by gaining valuable insights

When undertaking analysis for any purpose, the starting point has to be the data that you need to be sure is both accurate and representative (at Eagle Eye, +95% of our team respond to our quarterly eNPS survey).

You then have to ensure that you’re constantly turning the DIAL, by which we mean starting with the “Data” but ensuring you use it to derive “Insights” which enable you to take the right “Actions” to engender “Loyalty”. Skipping the “Insight” step when moving from “Data” to “Action” can be perilous. Or worse, you can generate Insights but fail to take any Actions which results in Learning, not Loyalty.

This model has consistently delivered measurable value from customer data. Much of what I’ve learned about customer-centricity in my marketing career can be applied to how you should treat your employees, and the DIAL model is no exception.

The key to engagement is to hero the individual first

Let’s reflect on the following from “The Udana” or “The solemn utterances of the Buddha”:

As a man traversing the whole earth

Finds not anywhere an object more lovable than himself;

Therefore since the self is so universally loved by all,

The man who loves himself so much,

Should do no injury to others.

The endpoint, “do no injury” is The Golden Rule, but what struck me was the starting point – the man for whom nothing was “more lovable than himself.” This holds the key to engagement: we are all our own favourite subject. If you can start every conversation from the perspective of the individuals involved, they will listen more carefully and engage more freely.

Consider these rallying calls to a fictional company:

Rallying call A

You are handpicked to be on this team, and we’ve ensured you have everything you need to succeed. Thanks to our team, we have the best product on the market. Go out confidently, follow the Golden Rule, and you’ll do amazing things for customers, earning their loyalty and growing our business. As you know, when we grow, we all benefit.

Rallying call B

Our products are the best in the business, and our price, quality, and service are unmatched. We’ve invested millions to get here, and our research confirms that we’re the best. Go confidently to your customers, follow the Golden Rule, and you’ll earn their loyalty and grow our business. As you know, when we grow, we all benefit.

Likely, 95 per cent of companies follow approach B. But in my experience, approach A is what truly works. Start with the individual, then the team they’re part of. Make them the hero of their own story. You may have world-leading technology, products or services, but it’s the heroes who build and deliver them that truly matter because they will create the next world-beater.

A winning team follows The Golden Rule

The answer to building an exceptional team is simple: follow The Golden Rule. Aim for an adult-to-adult relationship between the company and your employees. Essentially, your employees must know that the more they give, the more they will get.

By embracing The Golden Rule, companies can forge a path to success that is not only profitable but also grounded in ethical and human-centric principles. After all, in the intricate dance of business, sometimes the most enduring lessons are the simplest ones – treat others as you’d like to be treated.

[ABOUT THE AUTHOR]

Sarah Jarvis, Communications and Propositions Director, Eagle Eye

With over 15 years of experience as a Retail Marketing Leader in the loyalty industry, Sarah has worked with some of the world’s largest retailers and FMCG brands to help them drive profitable growth by prioritising the customer in their decision-making processes. Her expertise spans loyalty program design, CRM, personalisation, data analytics and commercialisation, and the technical implementation of initiatives that bring retailers and brands closer to their customers. Sarah is also the co-author of Omnichannel Retail: How to Build Winning Stores in a Digital World.

Sarah Jarvis
Author: Sarah Jarvis

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