Stop Driving Me To Your Competitors

stupid business

You’re in business for one reason – to make money. There are many reasons you can be in business, but at the end of the day the key factor across all is making money.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be in business at all – you’d be working at a business (though the reason would still be to make money). So, if you want to make money, why are you so determined to lose it by driving me to your competitors?

Why is your service and small print built so that when something happens, the first thing I want to do after speaking with you is to leave you?

The Rogers “Experience”

My business partner Troy has an Android with Canadian service provider Rogers. It’s the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate, and a pretty damn sweet phone (I have one myself – it’s a Bonsai thing).

Today, Troy dropped his phone and cracked the screen. So he calls Rogers and explains the situation, and how does he go about replacing it. Easy, is the reply – buy a new one. But at full retail price – $549.99 + tax, which equates to $621.49.

Troy replies he’s been a Rogers customer for years, and he understands he has to pay, but full retail price? Seems a bit harsh – can’t he get the new customer offer of $49.99 + tax? The simple answer – no, he has to pay full retail price, because the handset is still within the first 12 months of a three-year contract.

So let’s get this straight – Troy accepts he’ll have to pay, but as a loyal customer he doesn’t get any leeway? Instead, Rogers (by their actions) don’t care if he leaves, and would rather lose a customer than swallow the cost of a new handset? Which they’d recuperate in about three months’ worth of Troy’s usage?

Cool – Telus, one of Rogers’ competitors, is currently offering a deal where you can upgrade your handset at any time, no questions asked. Don’t like your handset – no worries, they’ll upgrade. So guess where Troy’s going later this week? And Bonsai are getting some new handsets this week as part of a new business account – guess which provider we’ll be going to?

In the meantime, Troy’s being well looked after by an independent called Techville, who’re fixing the phone for $130 and have given Troy a BlackBerry Bold loaner until his is fixed. Something Rogers couldn’t do…

The Tim Hortons “Experience”

It’s not just Rogers who don’t seem to know how to create a great customer experience (also known as building loyalty in your brand). Our intern Dan recently won a nice $100 in the Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim promotion.

Roll Up The Rim To Win with Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons is a Canadian coffee chain and every year they have a promotion where you roll up the rim of your coffee cup to see if you’ve won a prize. Which is where Dan’s $100 comes in. But here’s the kicker – Dan has to mail in the rim, as well as two forms AND a skill question, to the Tim Hortons head office to claim his prize.

Tim’s will then send out a Tim Card to the value of $100 to Dan. Here’s where I get stumped, and wonder who the brains are behind this wonderful way to claim a prize.

Tim Hortons has a bunch of these Tim Cards in their stores. You simply choose the one you like, add money to it at the cash register, then you can buy coffee, donuts, sandwiches, etc, and use the card until it needs topped up again.

So why can’t Dan simply take his winning rim to a store and have it rung through the till and get his card there and then? Okay, there may be a security reason where Tim Hortons don’t want their employees possibly scamming the system (though that doesn’t say a lot for their trust in the employee to start with). But couldn’t a manager be responsible for both scanning and informing head office?

Additionally, how much extra are they paying for postage per card to send out?

It just seems like a backward way to say thank you for being a customer and puts me off wanting to even play the stupid game, if I have to go through hoops for one of the lower-end prizes.

The User Experience

It’s a fact that it’s cheaper and more effective to keep an existing customer happy than it is to market to a new one. You already have a warm lead; treat them right, and your customers suddenly become your marketers.

So why do brands continuously look to piss their customers off?

Are they really so vain that they feel they can lose the odd customer here and there, because they have millions more? Do they really feel they have us locked in because that’s how everyone is doing it?

Contrary to what brands might think, customers are becoming less tolerant and more savvy when it comes to getting the best deal – because the best deal is no longer enough. Now the user experience is key – get that wrong, and you begin to lose your grip. Big time.

So, Rogers and Tim Hortons, and others like you. Continue with your crappy service, and customer experience, and crazy hoops. It might keep you going in the short term. Heck, it might even keep you going in the medium term. But every business is a marathon, and you might just find that the stamina of your customers is beginning to fade.

Want to stay in the race? Start thinking like customers – surely that’s not too difficult to do. Is it?

image: Stacie Bee

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