Much is written about customer loyalty. Yet in speaking with a colleague yesterday he shared how his loyalty of 20 plus years was destroyed by one simple action.
His financial institution, a national and well known bank, stopped taking in loose coins. The reason he was told by the teller for this was the maintenance cost to the coin counting machine had become cost prohibitive. He was then told he must count and roll the coinage. Then he can bring it back to the bank. Even though he was not told this directly, this specific banking service was no longer profitable.
As he learned of this, he saw tellers standing around, talking and not waiting on customers. He told me, “They won’t take my fricking coins when people are standing around doing nothing?” Then to add insult to injury he later learned the coin counting machines in the grocery stores are owned by this national financial institution.
The end result was within 30 days he changed banks. He switched not only all of his personal accounts, but his business accounts as well. Of course this was a little action, not accepting coins, but in the long run it probably did more damage than the cost of maintaining the coin counting machine.
To maintain customer loyalty is to understand what clients value. In this instance, it was a common service.
Additionally, transparency matters with regards to customer loyalty. Don’t tell a customer you can no longer provide a free banking service and then sell a product charging a fee for the same service. This behavior usually upsets and angers loyal customers. Communication is critical when making changes to expected services.
I asked my colleague how many people he has told this story? His response was many. Again, unhappy loyal customers will tell a lot more people about a negative experience than a positive one. This fact is continually verified by customer behavior research.
So if your organization be it a SMB or a larger one is thinking of making minor changes, just make sure your have communicated your intent to your loyal customers. Be extremely careful of what you communicate because transparency is a two way street.