Yesterday, I canceled my American Express card after being with the company for well over 25 years. Quite honestly, the service was fine and I would have preferred to stay with American Express until the end of time but the only reason I have a credit card is for the travel bank points, specifically for two airlines, Southwest and Continental. American Express points no longer count towards Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and their relationship with Continental is set to end later this year.
So, I switched. I left American Express a message through the online secure mailbox asking how to cancel and close the account. I must say I was quite surprised when I didn’t at least get a query asking, why after such a long relationship, I was leaving. Is American Express truly cocky enough to think that losing one very longtime customer is no big deal? As a business owner I would certainly want to know why a customer was leaving, whether they were a short-term customer or a customer who had been with the company for a long period of time.
On a smaller scale but still in the realm of customer service and customer interaction, I bought a book written by another speaker. The book had great information but every few pages had a printing glitch, a line of blank space down the middle of the page. As an author, I would definitely have wanted to know if my books were being printed, sold and shipped this way. I located the author online, sent him a quick note of how much I enjoyed the book and also scanned a page to let him know about the problem. Much to my surprise, I got a short, curt email back telling me it wasn’t his problem and that I would need to contact the publisher myself, not even a “thanks for buying my book.” Needless to say, any advice he gave me in his book I decided I didn’t need to heed and, I don’t think I’ll be recommending him as a speaker or business expert anytime soon.
As a disc jockey, I always tried to answer the request line and take care of my listeners (my customers). As the creator and owner of The Space Store, I always tried to listen to what my customers wanted, needed, liked and didn’t like--and act accordingly. These customers and listeners were what kept me in business year after year.
I was on the radio for 20 plus years in Houston and had a fan that used to send me a Christmas card every year. The card was always a picture of his dog posed at the Christmas tree: as an elf, as a reindeer, some sort of holiday theme. The card always made me smile. I didn’t know this listener, didn’t talk throughout the year, had no interaction with him other than the card. Yet, I knew he was there and the cards continued for a few years after I left radio. (At this point, I had given him my home address.)
One year the card didn’t come. It took me a few days but I finally found an address online for this former listener--a customer. I sent him a handwritten note asking if everything was ok, I was so worried I hadn’t gotten a card. He was genuinely surprised that I had even noticed and he has not missed another year since. I have a fan/customer for life.
Are your customers and listeners leaving? Have you bothered to ask why? If not, why?