Tag Archives | customer retention

New Year, New Challenge – Keeping your Customers Loyal

I love this post from the QualityDigest.com, written by Joe Callaway, 10 Steps to Keeping your Customers Loyal. As we’re starting 2010 after a difficult 2009, I’m sure most businesses out there are thinking and planning on how to make this year a bit better and more profitable than last.

My favourite of the 10 Steps is Number 6:

Make it the first six weeks again. The first six weeks of any relationship are magical.  Everyone loves everyone. Gestures of appreciation are made on a regular basis. Then it starts to get old. We don’t try as hard anymore to make a great impression. Go back to that first six weeks. Make it magical again.

Pretty apt for the New Year, don’t you think?

I particularly like this because it has been my opinion that many Irish businesses are stuck in a dangerous loop where once they’ve captured a customers money, they instantly forget about that customer and move on to attract another different customer. They engage in “week 1” activities to get the customer in and get their money, but then don’t even move on to trying to retain the customer.

These businesses are forgoing trying to build any customer loyalty whatsoever. It strikes me that businesses are damaging their prospects by treating all their customers as “once off transactions” rather than potential loyal (and profitable) customers.

I can safely say that there are very few places in Dublin where I give return business because of the efforts of the business itself and not just because it’s handy.

How about you? Do you have “regular” places that you go – say for your shopping, or your lunch – where you’re made feel welcome every time you go back?

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Pop Quiz: Why do you fly Ryanair?

Ryanair describes itself as “the worlds favourite airline” in its press releases. It frequently provides the cheapest fares on its routes compared to its competition.

Yet many people seem to feel that the customer service at Ryanair is pretty bad. There are definitely more e-mails to ValueIreland.com about Ryanair than any other company in Ireland.

If this is the case, why do nearly 6 times more of us fly with Ryanair than flies with Aer Lingus for example?

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Customer service and word of mouth – the tables have turned!

It is generally accepted that the average business will not hear anything from about 90% of their dissatisfied customers – they simply walk away without saying anything, never to do business again.

It is also said that on average each of these customers will tell 10 people about their bad service experience, while nearly 15% of these dissatisfied customers will tell upwards on 20 people.

During a lunchtime conversation in work recently, we arrived at the conclusion that so many customer service experiences in Ireland are now so poor that these generally accepted principles could be seen to be reversed.

It’s now more the exception than the rule that we experience good customer service in Ireland these days and it’s those good experiences that we tell everyone about rather than the bad ones.

This is possibly a reason why the general response (including the Irish Independent, on Boards.ie (here and here) and AskAboutMoney.com (here), and here on ValueIreland.com) was so underwhelming with the “Service with a Snarl” PrimeTime Investigates programme before Christmas. It could be that we’re so used to poor customer service that seeing it played out for us on TV isn’t really telling us something we don’t know already.

BUT. And there is a BUT.

Where I think that “Service with a Snarl” was trying to get to is that we shouldn’t be putting up with this poor customer service. We’re paying for a service from someone, and we are entitled to an expectation of a minimum level of service.

Hence the advice at the end of this recent post on poor customer service from Komplett.ie. You should always complain, and you should always let them know when you’ve decided to take your business elsewhere, and why.

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The disaster of ignoring customer feedback

I wonder about the potential true impact of this “free dinner” offer that is allegedly offered in place of leaving a poor review up on the menupages.ie website, as referred to earlier this week?

If someone has a bad experience the second time around, I wonder would the original and new poor reviews be still left up on the site. Presumably such a scenario would be even more damning for the restaurant.

How? Let’s assume a scenario where someon had a bad experience in a hotel / restaurant. That person then complained to said hotel / restaurant and was offered a complimentary nights’ bed and breakfast at a point in time when they claimed that the problems would be resolved.

You would expect then that whenever that person was to book their nights accommodation that said hotel / restaurant would be prepared – they’d know that the person was coming and would be able to ensure that none of the original problems happened again. Sort of like a restaurant being tipped off that a restaurant reviewer was on their way. I don’t necessarily agree with this as such extra special service and quality should be standard for all guests.

It’d almost be like bribing someone with extra special service and quality in order to get them to change their minds about the original poor review and to think better about the place second time around.

What should that person then think if their second experience was the same, if not a little worse, than first time around? How should they feel when, despite the fact that the hotel knows that person is arriving and getting the night for free because of a poor experience last time around, they still put that person in the same room that they’d a problem with last time around, and hadn’t changed a single aspect of their customer service experience that was so poor first time around?

You’d just give up, wouldn’t you? The hotel asked for a chance to improve things, which they were given, and yet they’re no better than they were the first time around. How much do they really care about their regular customers when they can’t properly treat someone they know is watching them really carefully?

It’d almost be like recognising the restaurant critic coming in the door, kicking him in the nuts, and feeding him with last nights slops and leftovers. Take a bow Breaffy House Resort, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

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No customer service and no value = no customers = no business

There was a blog post here on August 14th about a new sweet seller in the Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas. The essence of the post is as follows:

I brought my 5-year-old son and 8-year-old cousin to Charlestown Shopping Centre during the week to run a few errands. After bribing them with anything their little hearts desired to ‘please behave for just half an hour’, I made good on my promise and told them to pick out 5 sweets each from the pick-n-mix vendor, Sweet Express. My jaw almost fell off when the assistant asked for payment of €7.90. Yes, you read right… €7.90. For 10 sweets.

We were in the shopping centre last Sunday afternoon, and no sign of Sweet Express. Charging prices like that it’s no wonder.

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Celtic Tiger done and dusted?

If you’re reading the newspapers, or listening to any news programmes these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Celtic Tiger (CT) has been hunted into extinction to be replaced by recession.

Not if you’re out in Terenure on a Monday night though. We went out for a quick bite after work to Marios. The place was absolutely wedged – a great sign that we’re still spending our money.

If only the quality of the food and the staff service matched the enthusiasm of its punters in these supposed dying days of the CT.

The staff were going through the motions, and the chef – by the quality of the food served – was doing the same. We ordered two main course (meat balls and spagetti and king prawn penne). The king prawns were cooked from frozen and passable – the kind of dinner that you’d cook for yourself, but a little unsuccessfully, but you’re so hungry, you eat it anyway. The meatballs and spagetti were inedible with practically everything left behind on the plate.

At a time when customer retention is likely to become more and more important for businesses, the restaurants that provide food that their customers can’t eat, and then show no interest in whether or not they like it, are hopefully unlikely to survive the collective belt-tightening that we’re told is happening at the moment (even if it hasn’t reached Terenure yet).

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VI Better Information 20-May-2008

  • Announced today, by Ryanair, the first price rise that makes the most sense, ever – charging for priority check-in. Coming back from Stanstead recently, there was the ridiculous situation where there was a plane full of people in the priority boarding queue, and only 1 person in the regular queue – and they still had to wait for everyone else to board. Madness!!! At least now priority boarding might actually provide some distinction.
  • Via Mr.Mulley again, further difficulties caused by Vodafone for one of their customers, BifSniff. One wonders how much you’d have to spend with them for them to actually attempt to keep one’s business.
  • I’ve been fairly critical of the National Consumer Agency on this blog – and here’s another gripe. Their Press Release and News and Research RSS feeds are driving me insane. Almost every single night, they republish hundreds of items and confuse the dates so that nothing appears in order at all – basically negating the use of the feeds at all.
  • Speaking of dodgy RSS feeds – it’s been months since I e-mailed Fine Gael about their faulty RSS feed for their news service. It’s still not working, and they don’t seem to have done anything to fix it.
  • Finally, has anyone noticed the very frustrating way in which The Sunday Tribune manage their website on a Sunday? While it’s not a great website in the first place, their way of encouraging newspaper sales rather than charging for content is to simply take down the whole website, providing a 404 message rather than doing anything more elegant.
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AIB up to their usual sneaky tricks shafting their own customers

Charlie Weston today covered the decision by AIB to restore their 7% interest regular savings account – after having originally dropped the rate to 4%. In fact, so generous are AIB, they’ve actually upped the rate to 7.3% which is now the highest of all regular savings accounts around.

Whooping and hollering from the Irish public? Well, before you do, consider this particular sentence from the article:

However, AIB is making anyone who had an existing regular savings account open a new account to avail of the 7.3pc rate.

So, if you already have an existing regular savings account, you’re not going to automatically get the rate increase. If you happen to miss the newspaper coverage and advertising, you’re not going to know about the new rate, and you’re not going to ask for a new account.

And even if you do hear about the new rate, you’re possibly going to be like a certain number of existing account holders who are likely to think twice about having to go through the full money laundering documentation procedures in order to set up a whole new account.

So, AIB is really doing their current account holders any favours at all. They’re depending on consumer inertia to keep existing account holders on the low rate and focusing really only on themselves by trying to attract new customers with this headline new rate.

In fact, they’re downright screwing existing customers by this action. Though, in fairness, given everything that AIB have admitted doing to their own customers in the past, we probably shouldn’t be surprised – and if you’re one of those AIB customers, you’re probably getting what you deserve by still giving them your business.

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Shelbourne Hotel – ridiculous cost of WiFi access

Following up on the post below, I was at work on the Monday after this article had been published in the Sunday Business Post.

That Monday, some work contacts arrived from Canada for a two week trip staying in one of the O’Callaghan Hotels. The original charge was €15 per 24hrs, which they’d queried and it was knocked down to €10. Whoopdee doo! (Though, for one of them got a voucher that never ran out, so they actually got 2 weeks internet usage for €10).

This was all mentioned in the context of the charges in the Shelbourne, where they’d stayed previously, and which was mentioned in the SBP article. What had originally struck me in the article was the €20 per day charge in the Shelbourne Hotel for their “hotel wide WiFI access”, and this was backed up by my Canadian friends’ experience when they’d stayed in the Shelbourne back in November.

€20 per day to me is a ridiculous cost – that’s how much it costs me to get internet per month at home. This article from TripAdvisor seems to suggest that the costs can be even higher if you’re a business user. For a hotel that charges between €250 and €550 per night for it’s rooms, you’d expect your wireless internet for free. Damn it, I stayed in a perfectly acceptable hotel in Shanghai for €20 per night and got free wireless internet.

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