Losing customer loyalty
It happens fast
It is an important principle, in my opinion, that the primary purpose of any business is to build profitable, loyal, long-term customer relationships. Every strategic plan, policy statement, and operating decision should support that essential business objective.
Customer loyalty is not easy to earn and retain. It requires consistent customer service that builds on the minimum requirements of competitive price, availability, and delivery; then demonstrates the added value of superior service and expertise; followed by connecting on shared values and beliefs in the way you do business together.
It takes time to build strong loyalty with customers and clients and it can be quickly lost in one bad experience.
A recent example: I am stubbornly loyal to certain brands, businesses, and institutions. In each case my loyalty has been built and maintained by consistently good experience engaging with the business as the customer or client. I also try to support local businesses, franchises, and entrepreneurs to assist in their sustainability and success, especially after all the turmoil of the pandemic and the rising trend of e-commerce competitors and the demands for online services.
So I have resisted the easy option of making my frequent purchases of very expensive HP printer cartridges directly from HP online. I prefer to drive to the nearest Office Depot downtown where I have been well served for all my technology requirements and office services, until a couple of weeks ago. I made the mistake of dropping in for a quick purchase of two cartridges which were subsequently rejected by the printer as incompatible. I’d bought the wrong cartridges! My mistake, but I thought I could count on the store to help correct the error. “No way!” said the intransigent manager who had no interest in sympathizing or trying to satisfy me. He preferred to dictate company policy: No receipt – no refund, and we cannot accept return of opened boxes.
It is never my recommended approach for customer service to lecture the customer on corporate policy. It’s better to be more tactful, “I’m very sorry about your problem and I will try to help, but the best I can do for you is…” Now we’re working together to achieve a better ending and keep the customer. In this case, I went back to my office and ordered new cartridges from HP.
Do you think I should give Office Depot another chance?
Be better. Do better.
Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph
Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.
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