I own a Bearded Dragon too! How well do your staff know their customers?


I am very fortunate to attend many conferences in the UK and around the world on all sorts of subjects. Obviously, I prefer to attend conferences where there is some interest in customer experience – there would not be much point in me going to a gynaecology summit now would there! As well as seeing some lovely places, and meeting very interesting people, I am also blessed with being able to listen to incredibly inspiring speakers. One such speaker inspired me last week at the Retail Conference in London.

Ryan Cheyne is the People Director from Pets at Home (PaH). I have been a customer of PaH ever since the Golding family became a family of 6 – when Rosie, our 4-year-old chocolate Labrador joined us. What  Ryan confirmed for me is something I always suspected about the company which he works for and represents – that their people are so very important to them. Many organisations stand up and say how important their ‘team is’, but how many of them genuinely mean it? How many organisations honestly try to bring the right people together that have a shared passion and motivation to deliver the very essence of what their organisation stands for?

I believe that PaH is one of those organisations. Ryan told the audience last week that 93% of PaH employees are pet owners themselves. 93%!!! That is an amazing statistic – and one that is so significant to a company’s ability to deliver a consistent customer experience where the people really understand their customer. How many businesses are able to say that the overwhelming majority of their employee base can completely understand and empathise with their customers? Ryan showed the latest PaH TV advert – it just demonstrates how important it is to them that their people are like their customers. You can watch the video via this link – it is definitely worth it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owRneBw7dm4

If you own a rabbit and have a ‘technical’ question about it, it makes such a difference being able to walk into a shop and ask a member of staff who also owns one. Even if the staff member you meet is not a rabbit owner, it is very likely they will own something, greatly increasing their ability to understand where you are coming from. But it is not only staff understanding that benefits the customer. Someone who owns a pet who also works in a pet store, obviously is a big advocate of the store they work for. This makes a huge difference in the context of delivering great customer experiences.

I went into a PaH with my little boy Jack a few weeks ago. You cannot just go into a PaH with a little person and buy the thing you went in for. No! You also have to have a full tour of the shop to view all of the live creatures on show (the animals, not the staff!). One of the creatures Jack took a liking to was a ‘bearded dragon’ (or at least I think that is what he was). One of the staff members must have seen us admiring him, for a few minutes later, whilst we were looking at a guinea pig, this lovely man appeared behind us with the bearded dragon on his shoulder. I cannot remember his name, but the chap told us that he saw Jack looking at the bearded dragon, and he wondered if he would like to stroke him. How very simple – but what a brilliant customer experience. This employee (a bearded dragon owner himself), recognised what might excite and inspire his customers – young and old. His actions were not about generating revenue (at that instant), but his actions will ensure that not only do I keep recounting this story, I will also keep shopping at PaH.

Is it any wonder that PaH were second in the Sunday Times best big companies to work for in 2012 – http://features.thesundaytimes.co.uk/public/best100companies/live/template This is the summary used in the report:

STAFF THINK WORKING for Pets at Home is the cat’s whiskers. The retailer is certainly barking up the right tree in its bid to be the best pet shop in the world.

“I absolutely love my job,” says Annie Campbell, manager of the new Pets at Home store, which opened last December at Edinburgh’s Fort Kinnaird retail park. “The company’s brilliant. I cannot fault it,” adds Campbell, who has worked for the firm for 3½ years.

The pet care specialist, which ranked 77th in our mid-sized list last year, is now officially a big company after adding more than 500 new staff to the payroll, taking it past the 5,000 threshold. It snatches second place on its debut in the list of the Best Big Companies to Work For.

Workers like the relaxed, friendly atmosphere, lack of stress and the personal and professional development on offer, not to mention the animals and reptiles they work with. Depending on the size of the store, these can include fish, frogs, snakes, tarantulas, giant rabbits and chinchillas.

Or dogs, if the store has a groom room like the one at the Fort, where assistant stylist Amanda Cleghorn is enjoying a second career after being made redundant from her job as an IT manager. “I go home very satisfied,” says Cleghorn, who at times brings her two springer spaniels to work.

Pets at Home gets the highest score for encouraging charitable activities (87% positive) and ranks first for our Giving Something Back factor. The firm, which helped to rehome more than 50,000 animals last year, carries out school visits and sponsors the Cub Scout and Beaver animal carer/friend badges. Staff say Pets at Home makes an effort to protect the environment (76%) and makes a positive difference to the world (72%). Employees also report that they have fun with their colleagues (84%) and feel they have the support they need to provide a great service (78%).

Daily shoals (morning meetings) covering everything from sales figures to customer feedback serve to ensure that everyone is completely clear about what is expected of them at work (81%).

Staff receive comprehensive and ongoing training on subjects from health and safety, pet care and new products as well as specialist areas such as selling restricted medicines, dog and cat nutrition or even running puppy training courses.

Such training is of great benefit to employees personally (77%) and they feel their jobs are secure (82%). Both are top scores. Employees are excited about where the firm is going (74%), boosted, no doubt, by its increasing revenues, which reached almost £518m last year, and its policy of promoting from within.

“It is easier to bring our guys up through the ranks because they understand the business and culture,” says Garry Cousland, area manager with responsibility for 17 stores in Scotland, who started out as an assistant manager 17 years ago.

Almost half of the staff has worked for the firm for at least three years, including Ailsa Bogle, who started as a Saturday girl at the store in Wick and who is now on a student contract while studying in Edinburgh. Like her co-workers, Bogle is happy with her pay and benefits (65%). The average salary of a store colleague is £11,000 while half of the staff earns £7,500 or less, reflecting the fact that 52% of people work part-time.

Workers also get the day off on their birthday, staff discounts, extra wedding holiday and subsidised gym membership. Those who go the extra mile get thank-you notes and evenings out.

Bringing people who understand your business and who are like your customers will reap rewards – as PaH have discovered. Another well-known example of a company that believes 100% in bringing the right people into its business is Zappos – the US online retailer that is now owned by Amazon. The US magazine, America’s Best Companies, sums up it up brilliantly in their article, ‘Going Above and Beyond’ (http://www.americasbestcompanies.com/magazine/articles/going-above-and-beyond.aspx). If you do not want to read the full article, this paragraph sums it up:

You might ask yourself, “How do Zappos associates put such an emphasis on customer service?” The answer is that Zappos has come up with a creative way to hire employees and ensure their dedication to customer service through their training program. Zappos’ recruiting staff asks potential employees questions based on culture fit that is similar to a speed dating format. One of the questions that Zappos’ recruiting staff asks is: “On a scale of 1-10, how weird to do you think you are?” This is to get a sense of how well the potential employee will fit into Zappos’ unique culture. Zappos Core Value #3 is to “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.” Zappos believes that without having some fun and a little weirdness, there would be a lack of exciting work culture. Potential employees who answer either 1 (not weird) or 10 (very weird) will not be hired, but those who can say they are weird have a better chance of being hired. “A potential employee could be the best technical person for the position, but if they are not a culture fit they [Zappos recruiting staff] will not hire them,” explained Judd.

Once hired, new Zappos employees go through a vigorous two-week training process. After this training process, Zappos presents their newly hired employees, “The Offer.” Zappos offers them $2,000 to quit right there on the spot. “Our ‘Offer’ shows that we have committed people who want to stay with the company and have passion for our drive for customer service,” she said. Although only 1-2 percent do take “The Offer,” it shows that all of the Zappos employees are dedicated to customer service and committed to their culture. The fun begins as soon as employees are immersed in Zappos culture. From various team-building activities, to American Idol in the cafeteria during lunch, Zappos truly brings the passion for dedication to customers and fun into one extraordinary company.

I used to work for an online retailer myself. The contact centre staff were very passionate, committed people. However, it was not always evident that they really understood the customers they were employed to serve. Sometimes it does not matter how committed to delivering a great experience you are, a woman may not want to order underwear over the telephone when the agent on the other end of the line is a young man! I have been consulting for a logistics company who is a major supplier of delivery services for eBay. This company is very committed to customer experience. The customer service director absolutely understands what is required. His problem is that the majority of his contact centre team do not use eBay. They do not understand what it feels like to be an eBay ‘trader’ and how important it is for the delivery to go to the right place at the right time. If the agent cannot empathise with the customer, how can they really help and placate that customer when it does not go to plan.

Understanding your customer – really understanding them – is an essential ingredient that makes good companies great. I am not suggesting that you all rush out and buy a pet – or that you start shopping with eBay. What I am suggesting is that you do ask yourself how well your employees know your customers. Do they or have they ever experienced what it feels like to be a customer of your organisation? If not, I strongly suggest you enable them to do so. It will make a huge difference – to them and your customers.

As always, I would be delighted if you want to comment on this or any of my blogs.

Can you tell what it is yet? Do your customers and employees know what your brand stands for?


Who knows how catchphrases take off? Many TV celebrities have them, and for this blog, I am shamelessly going to steal one from the great Rolf Harris (pictured) – brilliant artist and musician who hails from Australia, but has spent most of his life in the UK. For those of you who do not know Rolf, or his famous catchphrase, I will briefly explain. When I was younger, Rolf used to host a children’s TV show called ‘Rolf’s Cartoon Club’. Rolf would sit in front of an easel, and start to draw/paint a picture. The challenge was to try to guess who the picture was of before he would complete the picture – hence ‘can you guess what it is yet?’. Once the picture (of a cartoon character) was complete, the viewing audience would get treated to a cartoon of the character Rolf had just drawn.

So why is a customer experience specialist blogging about an Australian artist drawing cartoon characters? Well let’s come back to the catchphrase ‘can you tell what it is yet?’. Let me ask some questions – have you ever wondered what the company you work for really stands for? Do you always know what to expect from a company you interact with for the first time? Do you ever question whether or not your organisation has reached a consensus on how to treat customers? These are all questions that I have asked myself in the past. These are all questions that we often struggle to answer when working for organisations who  have not fully developed their customer experience strategies – or in other words, are not clear exactly what their brand(s) stand for in the eyes of their customers.

Let me use an example to develop the point I am making. My example is of a brand that excels at making it clear what they are and what they stand for – Virgin. I am currently reading Sir Richard Branson’s book – Like a Virgin. It is a fascinating read – a book I could quote from all day. Sir Richard (if I can be so personal) very simply states what all his brands stand for:

 ‘innovative, fun and quality service at a great price’

Every Virgin brand is founded on the same simple principles – if an idea does not align to this, the idea will not be launched. As a customer, it is pretty simple to know what you are going to get with Virgin, whether it be a train ticket to Glasgow, a flight to New York, or an annual pass to a health club. The branding is the same, the level of service is the same – it is remarkably consistent. You can tell very quickly that it is Virgin. As an employee it is very clear that you are working for an iconic brand. What Sir Richard has ensured is that every Virgin employee (although he thinks far too much of them to call them ’employees’) understands what the business proposition is. They know what Virgin is and stands for, they know what the character of the brand is, and they understand what the customer service principles of the brand are. It is really not complicated.

What Sir Richard has also excelled at is recognising that for a brand to be truly great, and to offer a fantastic experience, it needs to offer something different to its competitors:

‘Apple, like Virgin, must now fight to retain all the cultural elements that will keep it as nimble as its competitors not morph into one of the ponderous giants it managed to overcome.’

This quote refers to the innovative evolution of the Apple and Virgin brands – brands that have fought to maintain their innovation and principles, irrelevant of how big and successful they have become. The reason for this is that their nimbleness has become the reason why customers keep coming back to them. Their nimbleness have enabled them to develop serious brand and customer experience WOW moments. It is the WOW moments that makes them so successful. I did not realise that when Virgin Atlantic was launched, Upper Class (their version of business class) offered a complimentary door to door limousine service. Virgin could offer this because they were so small. Their competitors could not – they were too big. The limousine service was a big WOW moment that is still in place today – and unrivalled by Virgin’s competitors.

It is not suprising that Sir Richard mentions Steve Jobs in his book. Not surprising because there are so many similarities between the two men. Like Sir Richard, Steve Jobs was another shining example of a genius business leader who absolutely understood his brand. Steve Jobs knew what Apple was, stood for, and where it needed to go. Steve Jobs would never compromise on this. Steve Jobs would make decisions that would make the old-fashioned traditional ‘bean’ counting business leader shake and quake in his/her boots. Steve Jobs was so determined to do what he knew was right for his customer, he was even fired for being so ‘maverick’. On his return to the business, Steve Jobs created one of the biggest success stories in the corporate world. Steve Jobs took a brand that was dying, and created a brand that everyone around the world recognises. The essence of its products and its services was clear for the world to see. It is interesting to see what will happen to Apple now he has sadly passed away. Will his successor be such a stickler for maintaining the brand proposition, or will the numbers men come back in to take control?

Steve Jobs and Richard Branson created brands underpinned by cast iron principles. If you ask anyone you meet today, ‘do you know Apple and Virgin, and do you know what they stand for?’ – most people will be able to answer you. If you ask another question, ‘do you know why people buy things from their brands?’, you will almost certainly get a good response as well. Now ask the same questions of other brands – it is not appropriate for me to name any – but how many brands will you perform the test on where you are unable to answer the questions?

Not many of us are lucky enough to work in a business led by a Richard Branson or a Steve Jobs. If you are in a business where you do not know the reasons why customers keep transacting with you, or you do not have clarity on what your brand stands for, you will not be able to deliver a consistently good customer experience. By working with all of the relevant key stakeholders in your organisation, ensure that you create a CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE STRATEGY, and ensure that it is linked to the overall business strategy. Make sure that everyone knows what the brand proposition is, and what makes your brand different to the competition – detail the WOW moments that will keep your customers coming back to you, time and time again. It will really make a difference – just ask Sir Richard.

Your comments are very welcome on this, or any other of my blogs.

KILLING EMAIL – Are organisations right to want to eliminate email as a customer communication channel?


I attended a meeting recently where a senior director of a large organisation (who shall remain nameless) confidently made the following statement:

‘we are going to KILL email as a customer communication channel’

Strong words aimed at a group of executives from the world of customer service. Not a particularly customer centric statement either. However, this senior leader was only confirming (as many others have before him) that customer initiated emails are no longer productive or cost-effective for his organisation. As a result, his organisation (not him personally) had decided to ultimately STOP customers from being able to send emails into the customer service team.

As I have already said, many experts have been forecasting, or even confirming, the death of email for some time now – here are a couple of online articles on the subject:

What these articles suggest is that people’s behaviours are changing. As younger generations become more comfortable with new and innovative technologies, their usage of ‘outdated’ forms of communication such as email are declining. Email is also recognised as unproductive and slow – especially when compared to newer social media driven communication methods. One organisation, Atos, has already banned the use of email internally. The following statement is an excerpt from an article written by Bobby Travis for an online website called 40tech (http://www.40tech.com/2011/12/01/the-death-of-email-at-least-internally-at-a-large-multi-national-company/ ):

‘Atos announced the no-email policy in February of 2011, but have now officially implemented it. CEO Thierry Breton, who was also the French finance minister from 2005-2007, said that employee emails are only 10 percent useful, and are 18 percent spam — which seems about right to me, considering the emails I’ve received in companies I’ve worked for. All to often, the emails would be useless time-wasters — especially the ones that involved questions from co-workers that didn’t actually read the email in the first place.’

No-one can doubt that using email can often be a frustrating experience. Here is my simple summary as to why:

  • Sending them – can you always be certain the recipient has received it?
  • Receiving them – it often takes hours, and more commonly days for the person you sent it to to respond
  • SPAM – all too often we receive unwanted emails from too many sources to mention
  • Lack of communication! – how many times have you received an email from a colleague sitting less than ten feet away from you!

So if this is the case, why do we still send them? Hands up if you are reading this and have sent an email today? How many of you have sent an email in the last hour? How many of you have sent an email in the last ten minutes? It is certainly true that the majority of us send very few hand written letters today, but despite the predictions of the decline in email, how many of you put your hands up?

The reason I am blogging on this subject is not to point the finger at an organisation like Atos and question its internal communication policies. I am not concerned with what an organisation does within its own four walls (unless it is detrimental to the customer that is). The reason I am writing this is that even though there may be examples that suggest email is dying as a way of communicating internally, it is still the CHOICE of communication for many customers externally.

A great article by Patricio Robles in eConsultancy early in 2011 sums up the situation extremely well (http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7139-when-will-the-death-of-email-die ):

‘…even if we assume that email has generally seen a decline in usage, it doesn’t mean that email is dying. That’s because for email to ‘die’, it has to decline to the point at which it has no meaning or value. That’s not the case. What has really happened:

• New communications channels have given individuals the ability to communicate more efficiently. Thanks to SMS, Facebook, Twitter, et. al., internet users don’t have to send an email when another channel is better-suited to deliver a particular kind of message. In other words, email doesn’t have a monopoly on digital communications. Needless to say, that’s a good thing.

 • New communications channels have created more opportunities for communication. Messages that may not have been sent previously are now being sent because the right kinds of tools exist. Take status updates, for instance. Chances are the vast majority of status updates sent via Facebook and Twitter never would have been sent via email.

Both of these are actually good for email. Instead of treating digital communications like a nail for which the hammer is the only tool worth using, email is now just one tool that can be used where appropriate. That means a lot less noise, and a lot more focus.’

What Patricio’s article rightly says is that email still has its purpose. Many millions of consumers still prefer to communicate with organisations using email. In the title of this blog I ask ‘are organisations right to decide to kill email as a customer communication channel?’ Patricio would suggest not – and I completely agree.

My concern with any organisation making a strategic decision to limit customer CHOICE – whether it be related to product or service – is almost always making that decision for its own benefit, rather than for the benefit of its customer. If a customer chooses to send an email to your customer service team, surely it is only right for you to allow them to do so – even if it is not the most efficient way for the customer to communicate with you. Rather than ‘KILLING’ a communication channel altogether, would it not be better to GUIDE your customers as to the method of communication that may be best for them, rather than your organisation? In a world of cost challenges, maybe I am being naïve, but if we are to be truly customer centric, you cannot say that I do not have a valid point.

I remember attending a conference a couple of years ago where an attendee had a ‘rant’ about an experience he had had in an airport the previous day. This chap had arrived at the airport to check in. When he approached the check in desk, the agent politely told him she could not help him. When he enquired as to why, she told him that he HAD to check in using the self-service machines. When he asked if she could do it, she refused – company policy. Sounds rather silly doesn’t it?

In the past, some companies ‘hid’ the contact telephone number on their websites to ‘prevent’ customers from calling them. Most of these organisations have since reversed that decision. Surely ‘KILLING’ email is the same thing. Rather than making things harder for customers and limiting choice, surely we should be educating customers to find the easiest solution – that would make far more sense as a strategy.

Are organisations right to want to eliminate email as a customer communication channel? In my opinion, no they are not.

Ryanair: the most consistent CX on the planet?


One of life’s inevitabilities as a CX professional is that the subject of Ryanair will always come up in conversation at some point before, during or after a dinner party. For those of you who do not know them (and that will not be many of you), Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Ryanair is a low-cost airline often accused of treating their customers with contempt. Ryanair is a low-cost airline who are regularly highlighted as a company that is only concerned about profit. Ryanair is a low-cost airline that at one stage were reported to be considering charging customers for using the on board toilet facilities. Ryanair is a low-cost airline that anyone in the CX profession will probably not consider as the airline to take them to their next CX conference!

Ryanair ‘bashing’ has become a regular sport – not just at informal dinner parties, but at any customer experience gathering. They are touted as being the best example of how not to treat customers. ‘How can any organisation have a culture that regards the customer so low down the list of priorities?’. I have to say that Ryanair is not my cup of tea. The question I want to answer in this blog is why it is not my cup of tea – my answers may surprise you.

When you turn up to a theatre to watch the show you booked twelve months before, you are quite rightly excited. You are quite rightly full of ‘expectations’ – you are hoping for the performance to fulfil, or even maybe exceed your expectations. For any performance, whether it be theatrical or the outcome of a customer service interaction, to meet a customers expectation, the customer is likely to have some knowledge of whatever it is they are about to watch, receive, or interact with. The reason I do not choose to fly with Ryanair, is because I personally do not like what they offer – they are an airline who do not have a product that meets my own personal expectations – as a result, I personally choose not to fly with them. I sometimes like to have an inflight snack provided as part of the cost of my ticket – Ryanair do not do this. I like to know what seat I am going to be sitting in – Ryanair do not do this. I like to be able to check in a bag at no extra cost – Ryanair do not do this. I know all of these things because they are well publicised – Ryanair’s website is very clear about what they do and do not do.

Just because Ryanair do not do the things I want does not make them a bad airline. Just because they do not do the things thousands of consumers want does not make them a bad airline. Flying with Ryanair is no different to buying the low-cost food option in the supermarket. You know that the quality is not as good, but it is YOUR CHOICE to take the lower budget option.

What all the Ryanair bashers (and I have been guilty of it myself in the past) fail to point out is the ‘flip side’ of the argument. Ryanair is the epitome of ‘no frills’ – I am sure even they would agree. But what Ryanair excels at – in fact what Ryanair consistently demonstrates excellence at is consistency of service. What Ryanair say they will give you – they will give you – exactly as they said they would – almost 100% of the time. Ryanair is the most punctual airline, that loses the fewest bags, with the lowest number of complaints in the industry. Let me repeat – they get very few complaints. That is because Ryanair are experts at:

CONSISTENTLY MEETING CUSTOMER EXPECTATION

The bashers who moan and complain about Ryanair are most likely people who failed to do their research. With Ryanair, you get what you pay for – and it is very unlikely to go wrong. With other higher cost airlines, many of us would wish we could say the same thing.

On their website, Ryanair have a long list of customers saying what a great customer experience travelling with Ryanair was (http://www.ryanair.com/en/about/customer-feedback). Whilst I cannot help read many of these with a twinge of dubiousness in my mind (much of what the quotes claim would have been easily replicated by any other airline in the same situation), it is nice to hear positive things being said about Ryanair for a change. Other websites are not so kind. A lady called Liz has a great blog with some fantastic Ryanair horror stories (http://www.youngadventuress.com/2012/09/my-ryanair-horror-stories.html) – right up the Ryanair ‘bashers’ street!!

So what is the point of all of this? For every positive there is a negative. For every great British Airways story, there is an equally great British Airways horror story. The same can be said for any organisation. Whilst Ryanair can never claim to be a brand that dreams of providing the best, most luxurious, world-class airline service in the world, it is not a brand that was ever created to do so. Being the best, most luxurious, world-class brand in any industry does not automatically mean that the same brand delivers the best customer experience. A great customer experience is one that consistently meets and exceeds customer expectation. Whilst Ryanair may not exceed expectation 100% of the time, they certainly meet expectation – and they meet it far more often than most.

Ryanair are an airline that has been affected least by the economic downturn. They continue to grow in a very tough environment. They have got their product right. They have got their pricing right. They are giving customers what they want – it is that simple. Will all of this make me change my mind? Will I choose to fly with Ryanair? The answer is no. They do not sell the kind of product I want – that does not make them a bad company – does it?

How good is your organisation at consistently meeting customer expectation? Are you as good as Ryanair? I would be delighted if you would comment on this or indeed any of my blogs.

What a lovely mug! The risks of taking loyal customers for granted


One would always assume that the more loyal the customer, the better service they may expect to receive from the organisation they have been so loyal to. You would not be excused for thinking that many organisations would be delighted to look after their long-standing customers with a vigour, to ensure that they remain as loyal in the future as they have done in the past.

However, recent experiences that I have had, suggest that this might not always be the case. In fact, not only do I believe that organisations do not look after their loyal customers any differently to new ones, they are at risk of actually treating loyal customers BADLY.

Let me give you an example. I have been hiring cars from Avis for a few a months now. I have done so due to the convenience and affordability that they have been able to offer me. The service has been good (great front desk), and I have been treated well. As a customer (although some of you may not be able to believe this) I have been very accommodating. I am not really concerned what car they give me – or whether or not it has been cleaned to perfection. If it is not quite ready, I have never raised an eyebrow. As a result, the relationship between my local Avis office and my good self has been very good.

Now you would think that the lovely people at Avis, knowing that I am a regular customer; knowing that I am a friendly customer; and knowing that I am a flexible customer; would look after me just that little bit better than the ‘one off’ weekend customer who will be seen once, and never again. You would be wrong.

In the seven months I have been hiring cars (on a weekly basis), the state and quality of the cars they have been giving me have been getting steadily worse. The cars are never ready for me to collect. The cars are very rarely clean on the inside. The condition of the cars they give me gets worse each time I collect one. Just before I went on holiday, I hired a car for a week – I had a lot of driving to do. I sort of hoped that maybe, just maybe, the car would be OK. The car I was hustled in to was a disgrace. It stank of cigarette smoke. It was filthy inside. There were even a pair of false eyelashes (used) in the centre console. Avis had become guilty of taking a very good customer for granted. Do they think I will put up with service like this? They have pushed me a step too far. You could say I brought it upon myself. You could be right. But just because I have been accommodating, does not mean they can take me for granted.

It is a crying shame when a loyal customer looks on in envy when a new customer is rolled out the red carpet. It is very important to win new custom. BUT it is more important to focus on KEEPING your customers. I found this image about Avis on-line – I am their newest complainant – but it will not stop me from taking my business elsewhere – it is too late.

It is not just my experience with Avis that led me to blog on this subject. How many of you have a contract with a Satellite broadcaster like Sky in the UK? How many times have you seen offers being made to new customers that are not available to existing customers? What have us poor loyal customers done wrong eh? Once these companies have us, they think that they need to do nothing to keep us. They only attempt to do something when we phone up to cancel. In my opinion, this is just not good enough.

Customer retention is the key to the sustainability of a successful business. To retain customers you need to treat them well – not just on day 1 – but on week 2, month 3, year 4 and so on. Taking customers for granted is so easy to do – it is what will be losing your business top and bottom line benefits. It is all so obvious. What strategy does your organisation have in place?

Do you know of any similar stories? Do you know of any companies who treat their existing customers well? Please feel free to comment on any of my blogs.