Here’s how the drill works, you have a problem/issue/complaint/imagination of what a product/brand/service is suppose to do for you and it’s not. You’ve had it before, the waitress screws up your order, your cell phone company “accidentally” charges you twice, or a flight attendant jumps the line on you like Scott, (We’ll talk about that in a second). So what do you do? You ask for some sort of monetary value for their mistake for your time/effort/whatever the heck you lost. You trade the screw up for some sort of monetary apology and that makes it all better right?
A few years ago I moved into the house I’m in now. My job allowed me to do most of my work from home which was great, expect for the fact that I had a temporary internet line running to my house that was less reliable then public transportation. In a matter of 3 months my internet didn’t work 4 times and each of those 4 times it was a minimum of 3 days before someone came to put in another temporary line. Yes, you read that correctly…instead of replacing the faulty temporary line and putting in a permanent line, they just strung up another temporary one. Each time this happened if drastically would alter my day. No longer could I work from home, so I had to leave my house. Each time this happened I would call up my provider, bitch and moan about it, get some money off my next few months, and wait until they fixed it. Never did I receive a non-scripted apology, never did they try and figure out how we could make this never happen again, never did they empathize with my situation. Finally after the 4th time I got so upset with the internet provider I called them up and cancelled all the services I had with them (internet, cable, and home phone). The $10 a month I saved from their “screw-up” wasn’t enough to hold my loyalty through crappy service. Two days after I cancelled everything they put in a permanent line (oh the irony).
You Can’t Buy Loyalty
Think about that for a second. Think about the brands you are most loyal to, why is that? Is it because they gave you a discount when they screwed up? Is it because they gave you a free meal after you found a hair in it? I doubt it, likely it is because of their behaviour, their service. It’s how they engaged with the conflictual situation. It’s how they handled a less then positive issue. It’s how they engaged with you and problem solved with you to rectify the situation.
I don’t know about you, but to me brands are giving away the farm for a return on what? Loyalty? Nah, they are just giving you something to shut you up and that’s not awesome. Let’s take a recent example of what happened to Scott Stratten (The Coles notes version):
Scott was flying out of New York when a group of flight attendants cut in front of him, without as much as an excuse me to get through airport security. After a brief exchange ending with the flight attendant telling Scott to, “Open your ears” Scott was pissed. He tweeted this:
Now this could have turned into a story for Scott’s next book (Read: Go buy the Business Book of Awesome/UnAwesome), but Delta took note (even though their name was mis-spelled) and responded:
They didn’t offer him money off his next flight, they didn’t offer free cashews on the flight, they gave him nothing of monetary value. They simply gave him an apology, an unscripted apology. They recognized his frustration, dealt with it in a public space, and guess what? When Scott was booking his next flight he went with Delta.
Address the Needs
I’m convinced that people are not simply looking for some monetary gain from a companies screw up. In my situation above, I would not have cancelled everything had they simply apologized for the shitty service and up’ed their game. Why? Because they would have better built a relationship with me had they simply had a conversation. I would have been more understanding if they addressed my needs instead of trying to buy my silence.