I have been reading a few stories of disgruntled long time phone customers who are switching companies because of one screw-up (here for a Verizon story, here for an Orange story). I can absolutely relate with that as I have done it twice in the last 10 years or so.
It is also in-line with what happened to me this morning. I have been a loyal service customer of a local Ford dealership for years. Actually I bought my last car there as well. Yesterday, on my way back from our weekend trip, I noticed a high pitch noise coming from my engine when I was driving fast. So this morning I call my garage. The (obnoxious) scheduler told me that they have nothing available until next week. The problem is that I am going on vacation next week and that I do not want my car to break down when away and relaxing. I begged the woman to check for a spot for me, reminding her how much money I had spent on them over the years, but to no avail. In the past I would have tried to escalate the discussion and talk to a manager – but I didn’t. I called another Ford dealer – got into a phone answering machine hell and hung up. Then I called another one and got connected to a very friendly man who said that he would be able to squeeze me in on Wednesday.
Guess what? If those guys are any good, I will continue to go to them until they screw up.
I suspect that this is true for many customer relationships – and not just in the phone service or car service industries. If you don’t screw up, they will stay with you. Printers, computers, and cameras all fall into that category to a certain extend. People will research their first buy, but after that, a majority of them will keep buying from the same company until that company screws up. Dell, HP, Canon…all have a significant portion of their customer base that are loyal because it’s easy to buy from the same company over and over again.
If this is true, and I am convinced that it is, then why do companies spend so little attention to the quality of their service department? And why does marketing not step in and demand control over the quality of that post sale relationship?
This sounds like easy money to me…