Interviewing a large key client a few years ago I ask him why they had become so loyal to our company.
Without hesitation he started, "Well you guys were handling a very important matter for us and it wasn't going well. I approached (the relationship partner) and let him know that I was displeased and that something had to be done. (The relationship partner) made the decision to replace one of your senior partners handling the matter with someone else. And the change worked and the matter's result was highly appreicated by us. In effect (the relationship partner) showed us that our relationship took first priority over any politics within your firm. From that time on we knew we would be taken care of and that we were partners with your firm."
I've seen this played out time and time again. When things get tough, we each have the opportunity to show what we are made of and develop a relationship with clients and teammates which speaks louder than all the good times.
The math says that Loyalty can be more a function of trust based on how we deal with problems than all the dinners and the wins . . .that client service is shown best in tough moments.