Suzanne has been a customer of a certain company for six years. She’s loyally purchased from them time and again and has encouraged friends to buy from them as well (and they have, she has the referral rewards to prove it!). So when Suzanne recently made yet another purchase from them, she had no reservations. When the price dropped a bit on half of her order the very next day, she was slightly annoyed, but certain that the company would correct her order when she contacted them.
When she did speak to a customer service representative, she explained what had happened, requested the price adjustment for $12, and offered to use another of her referral rewards if that would make processing the price correction easier. To her shock and dismay, she was informed that no price adjustment would be made; that there was nothing that they could do for her. She tried again, touching upon her loyalty to the company and her disappointment over what would be a simple, standard price adjustment with virtually any other company. Again, she was told that there was nothing to be done for her, but they would pass along her complaint.
It’s easy to say what should have been done with this case: provide the customer with the price adjustment she reasonably requested. But let’s go a bit deeper and talk about why and how a $12 price adjustment turned into the severing of a relationship with a longstanding, evangelical customer.
As customers deepen their relationships with us by returning time and again to purchase our merchandise, they assume that our companies are likewise increasing their appreciation of that loyalty. Especially if companies offer any kind of program that recognizes customer loyalty.
When a loyal customer reaches out to customer service with a patently reasonable request and is turned down, the customer often feels a bit personally hurt and begins to question their value to the company. “Why am I so loyal to them when they obviously don’t care about me? They won’t even do this one simple thing.”
They also begin to focus heavily on prices. “I’ve spent so much money over the years with them. I’ve bought from them even when there were other options because I truly felt they were the better company and worth the added expense. Why am I spending my money somewhere I’m not treated well?”
They also pick the hill they are willing to let the relationship die on (usually the very issue they called in for). “The $12 was pocket change when I made the call, but became the most important $12 in recent memory once they blew me off. If $12 was too important for them to comp me for it, I figured it had better become equally important to me. They drew the line, I just chose to stand on the other side of it.”
If we fail to treat our customers reasonably, even the most loyal ones can and do instantly flip to deciding our prices are too high, our merchandise is not that special, and that all of their friends need to know about this as they share their stories of customer service injustice. Thus, it is crucial that we understand the pivotal role we in customer service play in the overall success of our companies. Let’s remember to stand with our customers and advocate for them as we are in the unique position to help them remain satisfied customers for years to come.