In any game, familiarity with the rules increases your odds of a successful outcome. The game of business is no different, especially if you are in it for the long haul.

Frederick Reichheld introduced the business world to loyalty's impact in his 1996 masterpiece, The Loyalty Effect. In a longitudinal and latitudinal case study format spanning 150 years of business success and scores of industries, that work showed us the magnificent power of loyalty to leverage financial results. If a five percent increase in loyalty produced a 25 to 100 percent increase in profitability, depending upon the industry (and it does!), you'd have to be crazy not to pursue a business strategy based on the rules of loyalty.

The long-haul rules of loyalty derive from a simple awareness: business is here to serve. Fred Reichheld's scholarship clearly supports a Copernican shift in focus away from the bottom line as the be-all-end-all in business, and toward the creation of a superior customer experience at the center of the business universe. This fundamental departure from the time-honored business maxim, "the purpose of business is to make money," to a more accurate and enlightened expression, "the purpose of business is to create a superior customer value," forever relegates profit to its proper place as a mere metric.

Under loyalty rules, those businesses that most effectively understand and create a superior customer experience, multiply their profits. Those businesses that don't, erode their profits until they put the customer first--or cease to exist. There isn't much middle ground.

Loyalty Rules! is an important follow-up to The Loyalty Effect and a practical handbook for building loyal business relationships. Since we've been shown that loyalty creates incredible leverage, and we're not crazy, we'll just have to learn those rules!

The Table of Contents is an instructive document in itself; here are a few chapter titles.

Chapter 3: Play to Win/
Win...Profiting at your Partner's Expense is a Shortcut to
a Dead End. Chapter 4: Be Picky...Membership Is a Privilege. Chapter 7: Listen Hard, Talk Straight...Long-Term Relationships Require Honest, Two-way Communications and Learning. Chapter 8: Preach What You Practice...Actions Often Speak Louder than Words, But Together They Are Unbeatable.

Reichheld sums up 20 years of consulting experience by saying, "Not only have I observed that loyalty remains relevant to personal success, but I am convinced that without it, success in any meaningful sense is impossible."

Well written, witty, and tremendously interesting, Loyalty Rules! is required reading for those who believe that business success means creating satisfied repeat customers. Get the book, get the rules down, and watch your business grow! Then join the chorus singing praise to a new era where, indeed, loyalty rules!

198 pages, $27.50;
Harvard Business School Press.