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Ok, I wanted to spend a moment and share my thoughts on customer loyalty and retention.  In general, for a business it’s cheaper to retain a customer than it is to bring in a new one.  With this in mind, your focus should be on serving your existing and loyal customers and addressing their needs and concerns when the opportunity presents itself.

    Case in point.  I decided to give Directv a call today to discuss my current packages and my interest in their premium sports package, MLB Extra Innings.  I have been with Directv for 6+ years.  I have also been signing up for this specific MLB package each and every year (at full price).  Needless to say, I qualify as being a “loyal” customer.

    Before I go into the details of my interaction with Directv and their wonderful customer service/sales representatives <insert sarcasm here>, I want to preface this by saying I am not one of those customers who likes to “scam” the system, looking for every opportunity to not pay for any of the services I get.  They have a business to run and it needs to be profitable.  I get it and I understand. Let’s move on.

    So here I am inquiring about what offers or discounts did they have for their MLB package for loyal customers such as myself? Keep in mind, I’ve always signed up for this package year after year.  I love baseball and I don’t mind paying the extra a month to watch my beloved Red Sox (obviously I don’t live in Boston anymore, hence the need for the package).  So why am I asking for a discount now? Well, it all started back in Sept, when the football season started. Directv kicked off a new promo, offering the NFL Sunday ticket for FREE! - I heard about the promo and I immediately jumped for joy.  

    Unfortunately, it was a premature celebration.  I quickly found out that this promo was only being offered to new customers.  Wait. Say whaaaa? Ain’t this some sh!#&.  I quickly called up Directv and ask them what the deal was.  Their representatives were prepared.  Their scripts were printed out in front of their monitors and they answered the common questions before you even asked them.  At the end of the day, they told me to go kick rocks.  I wasn’t upset.  I was disappointed.  

   For the first time as a Directv customer, I felt undervalued and unappreciated .  I felt like the sibling of a new born.  Nobody cares about you anymore.  They’re all goo-goo ga-ga about the new baby.  Being overly attentive and making sure it got everything it needed, while you’re over there trying to remind them you still exist.  Bastards.  I swear I am not bitter but you get the point.

   Let’s come back to my phone call into Directv today.  I knew opening day is just around the corner and I figured now would be a good time to discuss my options with Directv.  I didn’t “auto-renew” my MLB package this year and found it interesting they didn’t even reach out to me to ask why, considering I’ve had it for the past 6 years.  Again, a lost opportunity for them to 1) try to gain back revenue for these additional services and 2) demonstrate their appreciation for their loyal customers by perhaps offering it at a discounted price.  Nope. Nada. Instead it was me making the phone call.

   I was upfront about the purpose of my call.  I politely reminded the representative of my tenure with them, even reminded them of the NFL Sunday ticket debacle and asked her what she could offer me today.  She looked up “existing offers” in her computer and after three minutes waiting, she comes back and tells me she can offer me $5 off the monthly charge of the package. Wow.  Well, this makes me feel even more appreciated. Kick me in the ass while you’re at it!  I proceeded to tell her that the offer wasn’t what I had in mind.  In other words, it wasn’t good enough.  Not good enough for a 6 year loyal customer.  No effin way.

   So following normal protocol, I asked her if I can speak with her supervisor.  As I waited for her to get on the phone, I reminded myself about how difficult and painful these conversations were when I was a floor supervisor for a call center back in the days.  Oh well, tough shit.  It’s your job and you should be ready for it.  Anyways, one thing I knew is that as a supervisor - you were empowered to offer more to your customers - all within reason of course. Let the negotiation begin.

    We went over my “situation” again and started to discuss options.  She proceeded to tell me how Directv didn’t gain anything with these packages, and in fact began to incur cost when they start to discount the price.  That the price was all governed by MLB and the NFL respectively.  These offerings are purely to entice new customers to join and obviously didn’t see it as a core service that they made any significant revenue from.  I guess that answers the free NFL Sunday ticket promo.  I quickly reminded her that it was a service that Directv offered nevertheless and represented.  As a consumer, I honestly don’t care what it’s costing you but thanks for the reminder.  We chatted for a few more, even discussed my current package and then finally the final offer came.  Their “early-renewal” price for the MLB Extra Innings package is $34.99 (a whopping $1 off the normal price).  <insert FAIL on customer loyalty here>.  Anyways, she informs me her final offer is a total of $15 off the package bringing me down to $19.99/month. 

  That’s roughly a 43% discount. Not exactly what I call going the extra mile for your loyal customer, but I’ll take it.  Maybe if I threatened to cancel, a new offer would have magically showed up. Maybe not.  Then again, perhaps Directv is not hurting for customers these days.  However, if they keep treating their existing customers like this, their going to need to start offering the MLB package for free too.  Remember Directv, customer loyalty fosters self-advertising by word of mouth.  That works both ways though.