Thursday, August 13, 2009

Customer Loyalty is a Lost Art

Miss me?

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.

Night all!


  1. You are absolutely right. You are expendable. So am I. It sucks. As consumers, or employees, it doesn't matter. Years of expertise, a marketable skill, loyalty to a particular brand for decades--it is all worth nothing. And don't try to threaten the company by saying, "I'll tell everybody that I know not to buy or use your product." They don't care--they really don't. It is a shame, but until people start valuing concepts such as "honesty, loyalty, and integrity", it is not going to get any better.
    Alicia Webster

  2. When you listen to management talk they'll tell you that it costs more to get a new customer than it does to keep an old one. They will rave about how very important customers (and customer service) is to the well being of the company.

    The next order of business will be to tell you about some changes that will a) make it more difficult to help the customer or b) measure the front line staff's performance based on upselling and dollar amount per transaction.

    Finally there will be a discussion about morale.

    How have we lost our way this badly?

  3. My husband finally left State Farm after over 20 years as a customer, because the rates kept going up and up. They also screwed some friends of ours who had homeowner's insurance through them. State Farm in hubby's home state of Missouri may be better, but in Florida, they treat even long-time customers shabbily.