What cost loyalty?

There once was a time when loyalty counted for something but that concept seems to have passed away now…

By nature I like being a ‘loyal’ customer – I like the concept of developing a long-term relationship with businesses I use.

When I worked for a major telecoms company I remember the whole organisation went through a ‘Customer Care’ programme of training because it recognised that it was more cost-effective to maintain and enhance an existing customer relationship than to win a new customer.

However, as companies have gone on centralising, outsourcing and automating as many of the communication links with their customers as they can – I think many of them have given up on maintaining (or adding to) the value of long-term relationship with customers in pursuit of maximising the profit on each individual transaction.

Sadly, the out-working of this is even worse – recently I’ve encountered a number of situations where companies that I’ve been loyal to over a long period seem actually to be viewing me with contempt for being a long-standing customer; they seem to assume that I’m too stupid or lazy to shop-around, so they take advantage of me and allow the charges I pay to creep up (or in some cases, leap up) to the point where they are significantly higher than those offered to new customers…
It’s as if they see my loyalty as some kind of weakness- a weakness that they feel compelled to exploit.

I may like being a ‘loyal’ customer – but I hate being an ‘exploited’ customer! If businesses view me only on the basis of getting as much from our relationship as they can as cheaply as possible then I guess they won’t be surprised if I do the same thing. Time to hit a few ‘price-comparison’ websites maybe!

I remember hearing Bill Johnson talking (in a different context entirely) and challenging the old saying, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ by offering a tantalising glimpse of an alternative, ‘familiarity breeds honour’.
That sounds awesome to me… but in the meantime, until businesses whose services I buy bring honour back into our relationship they make it very difficult for me to continue being ‘loyal’ to them.