Take customer loyalty for granted at your peril

After the most fractious U.S. election campaign in history, Donald Trump is set to become the first American President who has never held any elected government position or military rank.

Debates will rage over the coming months around whether he has the right experience and credentials to take on the most powerful job in the world. One thing is for certain though, he managed to create enough of a stir in the American population to make them take a leap of faith into the unknown.


For all of the scandal, lies and video tape that has shrouded his campaign from the start, Trump still managed to convince the voting public that he can offer them a better service than they are currently receiving, while Clinton’s campaign pretty much promised more of the same. It is for this reason, that even the most ambivalent of voters chose to put their faith in him, in the hope of better things to come.


This is a clear revolt from the masses, who are feeling angry and betrayed by the ‘out-of-touch’ establishment. We saw the same thing happen with Brexit earlier in the year, with many leave voters stating that they were not fully aware of the ramifications of leaving the EU but felt it couldn’t be any worse than how things were currently.


Political upheavals of this sort can teach us a lot in the sales and marketing world, particularly in the area of long-term contracts and customer loyalty.


If you have a bad haircut, you can make the instant decision never to use that hairdresser again, simple. But if you are locked into a contract and have a bad experience, things are far less straightforward. You remain shackled in, often with a growing resentment towards the establishment that has control over you, until the day comes that you are finally given a choice again.


By that point, you may have got to the stage where you are thinking ‘anything is better than this’ and it makes your decision to jump ship much easier. Even if it is for a new, unsubstantiated product that you may not fully understand or agree with (see Brexit and Trump).


The political cases above demonstrate a classic trait of the human psyche, the longer a lot of people feel ignored or that their best interests are not being cared for, they will silently grow ever more resentful until the day comes for them to have their say again.


Fixed-term contract providers such as mobile phone operators, broadband, TV, gas and electricity suppliers see huge amounts of customer attrition every year. There is no doubt that a lot of this is down to price competitiveness, but there is also a considerable element of customer dissatisfaction at play. By taking their loyalty for granted, large companies are all too often neglecting customers once they have them locked into a fixed-term agreement.


We are sure that a lot of people will be familiar with the slick, super-friendly customer service and hassle free process of signing up to say, a new broadband provider. Where everything sounds amazing and you are left feeling really pleased with yourself for switching, only for things to turn decidedly sour soon after. Teething problems and hours spent on the phone trying to resolve them gives you that dreaded ‘oh no what have I done?’ feeling. From this first bad experience, things seem to snowball into ‘I am counting down the days until I can get out of this contract.’


Just as President Obama won a second term in 2012, Trump, and all fixed-term contract providers will do well to remember that the hard work begins once the customer has chosen you. It is then your time to shine and prove to them why they made a smart choice in (s)electing you over the competition.


If you regularly listen and engage with your customers to identify and resolve any small matters before they become something much bigger, and understand that if you under-promise and over-deliver, you are sure to be creating a legacy of long-term supporters who feel respected and valued.


Otherwise, when the next election, or contract renewal rolls around, don’t be surprised at how easily these once loyal supporters of yours will desert you for a not necessarily better, but different product offering.

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