My latest experience with a national service provider brought this question to the forefront. After following a series of automated prompts and one brief conversation with a customer service representative who could do nothing to help me, I was referred to a “Customer Loyalty Representative” whose task is was to keep me signed up for their service. I ended up with him because my monthly bill had quietly increased by 33% without notice; they hoped I wouldn’t notice, but I did.
Sadly, I knew this game was being played, because it has been each of the past several years upon expiration of a promotional service offer. The person I spoke with did his level best to be friendly and helpful, as he explored service options that might reduce my bill and retain my “loyal” business. The irony wasn’t lost on me that any loyalty here was clearly one-sided. Seemingly their Golden Rule was written with the belief that ‘He who has the Gold, Rules’.
Since the service itself has been generally satisfactory and their primary competitor is known to play the same bait and switch games, I spent a half hour of precious time “negotiating” the best deal I could and was, once again, successful. That time waster was irritating, but comparatively less intrusive than the time I would have to spend to completely change service providers. My new deal is good for, you guessed it, 12 whole months. Then I get to go through the process again, if I’m astute enough to notice.
As the call neared a close, I remarked to my Customer Loyalty Representative how frustrating this whole exercise had become and asked if he too got tired of having the same conversations, one after the other, every day, with unhappy customers. He replied with a feeble, but honest, “Yes.” He really did try to keep me signed up and, following a couple of sidebar conversations with his “manager”, he sweetened the pot enough to keep me on their books. It felt like a car deal. But it doesn’t have to be this way…
Here’s a novel idea: “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” That’s it; follow that Golden Rule in a service business and loyal customers are the long-term result. Here’s the magic formula:
- Treat your existing customers at least as well as those you’re trying to attract!
- Be transparent in your service offerings.
- Price fairly.
- Help the customer pick the exact right service for them.
- Deliver what they signed up for, plus just a little bit more.