One of the issues with spending one’s career in and around services businesses is that one has a tendency to overanalyze any experience consuming a service.  I find myself doing this frequently, and it sometimes is hard to tell when I am being overly critical or when the service simply has issues.  With that said, I would like to share a couple of experiences with long time service relationships that have me questioning my loyalty to a relationship (a Customer Success fundamental I will come back to).

We own three cars; a Chevy, an Audi, and a Volvo.  We are very loyal to brands and dealerships: we constantly keep buying the same models (and sometimes colors) every few years.  Right off the bat, I have very low expectations from my Chevy dealer so it is very difficult for them to disappoint me (thank you Dr. Noone).  My Audi and Volvo dealers on the other hand have been shining examples of how well auto dealerships can be run.  Until recently.

We currently have our Volvo in for service after hitting a ginormous pothole and having to involve insurance in the repairs.  The normally flawless Volvo dealer wasn’t as super easy do deal with during this ordeal.  It has been a little frustrating getting the issue hashed out, but not earth shattering, raising a flag, but not a major concern.

My last few service experiences at Audi have seen service levels steadily decrease: poor communications, missed items, etc.  This culminated in my last appointment when they completely dropped the ball (multiple times), didn’t recover well, and didn’t seem to care.  At the height of my frustration I sent a note to my sales guy (who I have bought two premium cars from in the last six years and am due for another).  He apparently gave my note to the service manager who called me the following week to see why I was upset.  The service manager seemed like he was going through the motions.  The sales guy still hasn’t reached out or responded to me.

One of the key topics I speak on when working with service companies is customer loyalty.  In the world of Customer Success , when an organization performs well, three things happen: the customer stays longer, buys more, and is an advocate for the organization.  There are two types of customer loyalty…


Attitudinal / Emotional Loyalty

Create experiences to delight instead of experiences that try just to not annoy.  Emotional loyal clients won’t leave for any reason, a pretty face, lower cost, better potential outcome.


Behavioral Loyalty

Clients stay because of convenience, no better option, no compelling event; there is very little stickiness or friction to switch solutions.


We have been attitudinally loyal to our cars’ manufacturers and dealers.  The Volvo relationship is still intact but it has my attention.  My loyalty to Audi has switched to behavioral; I still like the car, but because there are no other practical dealer options, I will choose another brand and dealer.

Service businesses are difficult and we are judged on every interaction.  If we are typically good, we will get a pass now and again when we fail to live up to expectations.  If downward trends appear, then the relationship becomes at risk.  Also, as with our Chevy dealer, experiences are relative to customer expectations.  Thoughtful and constant cultivation of expectations is key.

I may be becoming a curmudgeon in my old age, but I still get to choose where I do my business.

How is your customer loyalty?


Want to learn more on Customer Success, read…
Customer Success
by Lincoln Murphy – Amazon Link


What I am reading:
Professional:  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Amazon Link
Why we do what we do in life and business
Personal: The Grid by Gretchen Bakke – Amazon Link
The fraying wires between Americans and our energy future