Have you ever watched the television series I Dream of Jeannie? If you’re unfamiliar with the plotline here’s a refresher: the sitcom stars a magical genie and illustrates the humorous mishaps of daily life in the human world. Genies, magic lamps… all this sounds bit hokey. Recently, though, Morton’s Steakhouse really did make a wish come true for well-known PR man Peter Shankman. His wish? A porterhouse steak. The magic lamp? Twitter.

After a long day on the road, Shankman decided to tweet at the steakhouse giant, “Hey @Mortons, can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks.” Upon landing, Shankman was greeted by a Morton’s representative in a tuxedo with a porterhouse steak and several side items. Was it magic?

Shankman refers to this bedazzling experience as a publicity stunt – and a publicity stunt it was. While there is nothing inherently wrong with such stunts, Shankman makes no reference to consistency. Would Morton’s Steakhouse really make a free steak delivery to any of its customers, or only those with 100,000 Twitter followers like Shankman (who has a very loyal following)?

Monitoring what your customers are saying about you with spectacular customer relations management is a routine aspect of any good business. At Beyond Philosophy, however, we condone digging deeper and considering how consistently your customers have compelling – magical – experiences.

Publicity stunts are not the bread and butter that drive customer loyalty over time. To build value with your customers, consistency is key. When I write about loyalty in any of my books, I outline that it’s defined by relationship strength, perceived alternatives, and critical episodes.

Once Morton’s set the precedent of delivering steak to a loyal customer at the airport, it created an unrealistic standard for its customers. The take away is that such stunts make entertaining stories, but much like the fictional genie in I Dream of Jeannie, at some point they disappear. Loyalty, by contrast, means building value for your customers for life.

What Next?

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