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.

8 thoughts on “What a lovely mug! The risks of taking loyal customers for granted

  1. I have the same gripe with AA Breakdown cover, I’ve been a member for over 6 years now and initially I got a fantastic deal. Needless to say at the end of year one the price rocketed (I hadn’t used their service at all in the 12 months) so I called them, argued with them about loyalty etc and amazingly they “could do me a deal”….I have had exactly the same phone call with them every Feb for the last 6 years (and as yet I’ve never needed to use the Breakdown service) and got “a deal” which has been slightly more than a new customer pays but considerably less than they quoted me….why do I stay?? Because I like the discounts I get with my AA members card…!! It is very annoying though, to have to call up every year, fighting to get the same deals as a new customer who has no loyalty to the AA gets….

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  2. Here’s one Ian, freshly popped into my inbox!

    An email from an account manager at Google – “Hi, How are you doing? Have you thought any more on when you wish to advertise with Google? Let me know if there is any further help or support you need.”

    Very customer focused you may think. Not when you consider that this account manager takes a sizeable amount of money from me each month and I’ve been a loyal customer for quite a while. You’d think Google would have a CRM system wouldn’t you?

    Will I stay a customer with them? What other option do I have? 🙂

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  3. I see Avis have recently changed their tagline from “We try harder” to “It’s your space”…. Personally, it’s not an image of a Hire Car company that I conjour up when I hear their new tagline, more a storage unit or something of a similar ilk…!! I wonder what customer promises lie behind that tagline?!

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  4. […] So allow me to tell you my story. Because of the nature of my business (I work with a variety of organisations all over the country and internationally), my travelling arrangements need to be flexible. For that reason, I do not own a car – if I did, I would run the risk of it sitting outside my house for long periods of time. On the occasion that I need four wheels to get me to work, I hire one. There are a variety of choices for the car hire customer in Chester, and over the last two years I have tried them all. It has been an interesting experiment that has led to me concluding that they could all do with improving their customer experience in some way. Last year I wrote a blog post about my experiences with Avis – if you have the time to read it, you will understand why I no longer use them….. http://ijgolding.com/2012/09/03/what-a-lovely-mug-the-risks-of-taking-loyal-customers-for-granted/. […]

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  5. […] So allow me to tell you my story. Because of the nature of my business (I work with a variety of organisations all over the country and internationally), my travelling arrangements need to be flexible. For that reason, I do not own a car – if I did, I would run the risk of it sitting outside my house for long periods of time. On the occasion that I need four wheels to get me to work, I hire one. There are a variety of choices for the car hire customer in Chester, and over the last two years I have tried them all. It has been an interesting experiment that has led to me concluding that they could all do with improving their customer experience in some way. Last year I wrote a blog post about my experiences with Avis – if you have the time to read it, you will understand why I no longer use them….. http://ijgolding.com/2012/09/03/what-a-lovely-mug-the-risks-of-taking-loyal-customers-for-granted/. […]

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