Customer loyalty (HLD 308)

25 Jan 2021

Filling up with fuel today, my husband made sure we had our brand loyalty card with him, which from memory gives us frequent flyer points for the fuel purchase (let’s face it, we aren’t flying anywhere at the moment, but we are still purchasing fuel for the car!). We have another card for this petrol station as well, which gives us a stamp each time we buy a coffee and we get the tenth one (I think) free.

Unfortunately, he took the wrong card for the coffee stamps. It was a loyalty card for a different coffee place, a drive-through one that also is quite good at handing out dog biscuits if you happen to have a cute canine in the car at the time of purchase of the coffee. It’s always a pleasant surprise when you get up to the free coffee zone of your card 🙂

Locally, I’m very loyal to my bookshop caffe across the road from me. Good coffee, lovely staff, good bacon when you have breakfast there, and yes they are very, very friendly with the dog. I don’t need a loyalty card for this establishment – I think the dog knows her way there automatically, and if heaven forbid the front door was not open, she knows her way around the back and would get in via the kitchen, I suspect.

Apart from coffee (and bacon), there are places or brands I am loyal to. Often it’s because we have had a good customer service experience with that company, but the reality is that it’s more likely that we haven’t had a BAD customer service experience with them. How a company deals with a customer complaint says a lot about the company.

Recently we had a negative experience with a fairly well known supplier of mobile phones and other gadgets. It took a while to sort the issue out, but they did eventually resolve it, and went out of their way to grovel a bit and let us know how valuable we are as customers, blah blah blah. It probably wasn’t too much of an effort for them to say ‘sorry’, but it was appreciated and will mean we keep going back to them – if for no other reason than to spend the voucher we got as part of the apology.

On the other hand, a friend of mine has been dealing recently with a very well know Australian telecommunications company. While this company is actually quite well know for poor customer service, I think it’s even come as a surprise to my friend just HOW bad they actually are. And, quite frankly, how little it appears to bother them. They have a huge number of customers, so does it really bother them if they irritate one of them so much that they take their business elsewhere??? Apparently not.

Even if, on the rare occasion that a company is the only company that can provide a product or service, does it have to follow that they don’t have to provide their customers with a positive experience of the transaction?

I’ve worked in retail, so I know that customers aren’t always the easiest to deal with. And no, the customer is not always right. They could be misguided, or did not understand something properly, or were unaware of a situation, but they aren’t wrong. Just not always right.

But if you were to treat a customer as my friend has been treated by the telecommunications giant, and you weren’t, in actual fact, a giant company….how long do you think you’d be in business?

Maybe the telecommunications companies should start handing out dog biscuits with their complaints forms.

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