Thursday, August 13, 2009
Customer Loyalty is a Lost Art
Recently I've encountered two occasions when I contemplated changing service providers - my cell phone (Sprint) and my auto insurance (Mercury). Simply service and price shopping. I encountered nothing but apathy.
In the case of Sprint, I've been a 'loyal' customer for over-seven years. I'm on my third phone, have loved their service and have referred friends. As my latest two-year contract was coming to an end, I tried to upgrade my phone. I still had a month or two to wait before the full discount kicked in. I called Sprint, even offered to sign a new two-year contract. They did not budge.
Then, the glow of the iPhone caught me in my web. Thoughts of this device have danced in my head for over-two years now. My last Sprint contract was signed just two months before the first iPhone hit the market and I've been trapped.
But this is neither here nor there... my gripe is that Sprint did nothing to try to keep a loyal customer. Nothing. At all. I was nothing more than a monthly payment to them. Two days after I ported my number over to AT&T, I tried to log into my online Sprint Account to close it. It was gone. No past invoices to access, nothing. I called them and my password didn't work. They literally had deleted me from there system.
My second encounter was with Auto Insurance. Every six months, I check prices online and nobody has beaten Mercury. This year, another Agent representing Mercury, said he could save me $220 annually for the SAME coverage... still through Mercury! I called my Mercury Agent to tell them what this Agent was offering. They hemmed and hawed and offered nothing lower. Guess what I did after over-nine years! (A week after the switch, I received a form letter from my small agent who represents Mercury telling me that my policy has been canceled due to non-payment and that they were sorry to love me as a client! [the '!' was theirs].)
So what gives? Companies love (LOVE) new customers - just look at the free cell phones you can get - but seem to do NOTHING to retain existing ones. Why? The longer you're with a company, the more (I'd think) you'd mention it to your friends. Word of Mouth is a powerful advertising tool... but it works two ways.
So Sprint. So Gary Warner Insurance. After nearly a decade with both of you, you have both lost a loyal client.
AT&T and AIS Insurance - I hope you will not make the same mistakes in the future.