Heather and Mark work at a leading attorneys’ office in Seattle. They order fresh ground coffee for the office every month, and sent me this comparison between two major coffee vendors that shows how effective steps to improve customer loyalty can be.
Coffee company “Torrefazione” (I name the winners who work to improve customer loyalty)
• We received a call from a customer service representative about a coffee order placed at their website earlier in the week.
• We were informed that shipments are sent by UPS, but their coffee warehouse is only a few blocks from our office. So they offered to send future orders via courier the next day without a shipping charge.
• They also noted we order coffee monthly and provided information on how we could qualify for a frequent customer discount.
Coffee company ‘********’ (the losers know who they are)
• We had problems ordering ground coffee from their website.
• By default we ordered over the phone during office hours.
• One telephone representative asked us, ‘Why don’t you just go to one of our retail stores to buy the coffee?’
Guess which coffee company this attorneys’ office now patronizes each and every month? It doesn’t take much to improve customer loyalty, but it sure can pay off.
Abdul Rahman is one of my students based in Singapore. He was visiting a nearby country when his wife’s purse was stolen, including her credit cards from two different Singapore banks. Before he could report them stolen, they were used by someone else. He reports two totally different service experiences – one that worked to improve customer loyalty and one that did not:
UOB Bank (I name the winners who work to improve customer loyalty)
• $650 fraudulent charges
• The bank expressed sympathy at our predicament and assured us they would do their best in investigating the case.
• They asked if we could scan and e-mail the police report instead of sending by regular mail so that they could investigate immediately. (I did.)
• They called back immediately after receiving the e-mail and promised to get back to us as soon as possible.
• A few weeks later, the bank called and explained that their investigation showed the signature on the charge slips was different from the cardholder’s. Therefore, all charges had been reversed.
*** Bank (the losers know who they are)
• $65 fraudulent charges
• I was told by someone at the bank, ‘Our minimum charge for lost cards is $100 so you’d better pay the $65. Otherwise, we’ll charge you $100.’ (He must think I am an idiot.)
• After a loud outburst from me, he admitted that I am only liable for $65.
• When asked whether we should send the letter to him, he replied that he was ‘not yet in charge’ of this case and that we should just mail the letter to ‘*** Bank Cards’.
• One week later I followed up. They said, ‘No, we have not received any letter from you.’
• I faxed the original letter together with a cover letter explaining that the original was sent to them earlier.
• I called them to confirm if the fax was received.
• A few weeks later the same person called us from the bank at 8:30 a.m. and said, ‘We think you’d better pay the $65.’
• I mentioned the other bank’s investigation showed the charges were fraudulent. He replied, ‘Different banks have different policies.’
• When asked if we could appeal, he replied, ‘You have appealed twice so it’s not likely to be accepted.’ (Our lost original letter and subsequent faxed copy of the same letter equals two appeals?)
• One week later, a letter from the bank arrived stating, ‘Our investigation shows that you lost your card on April 13, but the report was only made on April 14. As such, you are liable for the minimum payment of $65.’ From the tone of the letter, we speculate that nothing was actually done to investigate.
• I called the Fraud Control Department but was not allowed to speak to the person responsible for our case. I was told, ‘He’s busy.’
• Finally, we conceded and made the $65 payment.
Guess which bank Abdul patronizes today, and will continue to patronize enthusiastically tomorrow because they took steps to improve customer loyalty? Guess which bank his family will avoid?
Key Learning Point To Improve Customer Loyalty
Coffee company ‘********’ and Singapore bank ‘***’ are both very big in their markets and clearly don’t care about measures to improve customer loyalty. They are major players with many customers, huge budgets and profits (for now). But big bureaucracies can quickly become impersonal and remote. Staff can become more interested in doing things easily for themselves and pleasing their bosses, than serving their customers with a smile and taking steps to improve customer loyalty.
Meanwhile, smaller players who want more market share, greater customer loyalty and positive word of mouth can teach their staff to be pleasant, helpful, motivated and appreciative toward those who really count – the customers.
Action Steps To Improve Customer Loyalty
Ask yourself which are you right now: Are you the big dog who risks losing touch with your market and doesn’t consider steps to improve customer loyalty? Or the underdog, keen to run an extra mile to improve customer loyalty and keep your customers delighted?
Big dogs don’t have to lose touch, but they have to work harder to keep their staff focused on genuine customer care and measures to improve customer loyalty. There’s always room for an underdog – or a big dog – to be a bit more sensitive, more innovative and more helpful to improve customer loyalty. Customers will notice and tell others all about it.
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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpliftingService.com.
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