Have you ever come across an ad for a service provider offering some really cool incentives for new customers? Or do you constantly hear from friends how they just switched providers and have access to some crazy cheap plan?

That’s what happened to me. I recently upgraded my daughter’s mobile phone and changed to a more expensive plan. The service agent in the retail location was very helpful and noticed that I had 3 phones with this provider. He pointed out that they have a 10% discount on monthly bills if you have two or more phones.

My response was, “sign me up!” Unfortunately, he couldn’t apply the discount for some reason and asked me to call customer support. So when I got home, I called them, waited 10-20 minutes on hold, and was finally told that the discount only applied to “new customers”.

Wait. What? I’ve been a customer for over 8 years; I have renewed those same three plans multiple times and continue to be a loyal customer.

Me: Why can’t I get the discount?

Provider Agent: “Sorry this is only available to new customers”.

Me: Well what if I cancel these plans and re-apply?

Provider Agent: You’re welcome to do what you like, but you just renewed a plan so you’re on the hook for two years.

So basically the incentives are only for new customers. Loyal, happy customers are treated like a commodity to be milked.

Why can’t I be rewarded for being a loyal customer? If I were to leave after this really bad experience, what is the cost to acquire another customer to replace me? Why can’t you identify me as a loyal customer and reward me?

Too many service providers these days are fixated on new customer acquisition that they tend to ignore loyal customers unless they are forced to do so. The same goes for a lot of their customer satisfaction programs. Most of the programs are geared towards identifying detractors in order to reduce churn but very few focus on identifying promoters and rewarding them. What’s the point of measuring customer experience and satisfaction if you can’t identify your promoters and then reward them for being loyal? Why can’t you treat me like a new customer?

Here are some suggestions on how this could be achieved:

1.  Identify your best customers or promoters and before you roll out incentives or deals, offer them to these people first.

2.  Thank me for being a loyal customer once in a while. The only time I hear from my provider is usually to up-sell me something I don’t need. How about just acknowledging me as someone who contributes to your business?

3.  Instead of constantly trying to sell me more stuff I don’t need, how about showing me how to fully utilize what you’ve sold me. Better yet, identify the things I don’t use and reduce my costs. It may be counter intuitive at first, but imagine how much the trust level goes up when you do this. I’ll probably be more receptive to suggestions of additional services if I trust you.

It’s too bad that most organizations are only scratching the surface with their periodic market research. They aren’t utilising their learnings and that means they can’t “Close the Loop” with customers. If they just realised the power of customer experience management and loyalty strategies, they’d surely see higher returns and happier customers – two benefits that are almost priceless in today’s competitive market.