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“Outrageous!”.

“Shameful!!”.

“How could anyone treat you like that…???!!!”.

Just a few of the reactions to last week’s post. It struck a nerve – I got more feedback than from any previous post… none of it surprised Westpac was our heartbreaker.

You probably remember my final takeaway was a note to self… As a customer you sometimes need to vote with your feet.

So – you’ll be pleased to know I’ve taken my own good advice and am back in the game. After a few days fretting the time in such a long-term relationship may have left its visible scars (are there REALLY that many fish in the sea, did we still have what it takes to pull a good deal??), we were out of the blocks with a hiss and a roar. The mojo is definitely back…

In no time at all we had a bank wanting our business – they’ve promised a relationship manager to work with our mortgage broker. Not only that, they have a team to transfer all of my Automatic Payments, cleverly removing pain from the move and providing a great counter to some of my move inertia from last week.

So, with not a lot of fuss, we’re back out there. We’ve not heard a thing from Westpac – we’re recovering nicely from our broken fiscal hearts and have segued well from last week’s doubt and apathy into this week’s “it’s them, not us”!

The key lesson is it’s not ok to silently tolerate an abusive relationship. The power is always yours to say no and walk out (even if you need a few tempters to seal the deal). It’s easier than you think.

So… I want you to spend time this week thinking about your brand relationships. Who is taking you for granted, not respecting your loyalty and profiting on your apathy?  Once you have a couple of suspects you’ve two choices – leave or challenge them. And here’s some sage advice courteously of time.com on challenging a company, from no less an expert than the FBI’s top hostage negotiator.

  1. Do your homeworkfind out what they’re offering new customers
  2. Stay coolspeak in calm, measured tones and smile as you talk
  3. Start with “I’m sorry”it grabs their attention, is amazingly disarming, and empowers them to help you
  4. Turn a complaint call into an appreciation callalso known as “forced empathy”. Customer service deals with complaints daily. The last thing they expect is appreciation for anything good their company may have done. Get them onside – they’ll want to help you.
  5. A focused comparison with an open-ended question…don’t be too confrontational, and be happy to employ silence. EG – “I love your service, and am a loyal customer… but I know you are offering better deals to people off the street. How am I supposed to live with that [pause]?” 

Key Takeaways / Questions

  • Breaking up is easy. If you don’t treat your customers well and they realise they can walk – then you have a problem. Your competitors are waiting they have teams ready to take your customers and you won’t get them back.
  • Are you actively collecting customer satisfaction data (eg, NSPs)?
  • If you are, do you act on it?
  • What are you learning from your detractors, how are you using this data to improve your service?
  • What are you doing to delight your passives and make them promoters?

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