For the last 25 years or so literally hundreds of companies, starting with the airlines and hotels, have been developing loyalty programs of some sort to reward their most loyal customers. The more you (fly, sleep, buy, etc.) the more they reward you. It doesn’t have to be much – even the smallest perks or rewards can make customers feel happy that they used a specific company.
One company that has no idea about rewarding customer loyalty is DirecTV. Which is one of the reasons I’m dropping them after almost 7 years of loyal service. And I encourage you to do the same if you have service with them.
I know what some of you are thinking…I’m just out to get something for nothing. Not true says I. For the past 4 years I’ve traveled roughly 80,000 per year for work and some of the best perks I’ve received from the travel industry were as simple as a bottle of water when checking into a hotel or not having to stand in long lines at the airport. It’s not the so much the cost of what you’re receiving as much as it is the token of appreciation that means something to weary, tired travelers.
So let’s talk DirecTV. For almost 7 years I’ve been a loyal customer of DirecTV. I’ve had one of the highest tiers of service, paid extra for HD service, and, at times, subscribed to premium channels like HBO. And every year I have had the NFL’s Sunday Ticket plan, including for the last 3 years their HD upgrade.
A year ago I heard that a friend had complained about his bill and gotten a few bucks taken off. I decided I’d try too and I did get $10 bucks off a month for 12 months. A decent deal, but not great.
The problem wasn’t the deal but the attitude that the company took. I pointed out that at the same time I was getting offered $120 for my loyalty, new customers who signed up for the Sunday Ticket were getting free HD for life, a free HD DVR, 3 months of free premium channels, and a cost break on their monthly package. These were all things I was paying “full price” for while the new guys were getting it all gratis.
This is the exact opposite from the way most companies run their loyalty program and definitely counter-intuitive to how I would think you would treat long-time customers. (What do I know? I only have an MBA in Marketing!)
Fast forward, present time. We’re getting ready to move and I started investigating the cable options in the area we’re moving to. Sure enough, they offer both Internet and TV bundled together for, get this, less than I’m paying for service with DirecTV now. Sure, they’re offering a small discount for the first year but the regular price after the introductory period is roughly $15 more per month than DirecTV and I get Internet at a great savings to my current rates.
When I called DirecTV, this time to cancel my service, the rep cut me off while trying to get explain my reasons for canceling. Then in an attempt to keep my business, they offered me a one-time credit worth a little better than one free month, and $5 off per month for 24 months. This, after I’ve paid more than $8,000 for DirecTV service over the past almost 7 years, not counting movies! (Maybe I shouldn’t have calculated that out….that’s a lot of scratch!)
I know this post is a long rant and I’m sorry for that. But I want people to know how upset it makes me that would treat a loyal customer this way. It’s not so much that I want them to offer me 50% off for a year and free Sunday Ticket (not like we’re going to have football this year anyway, right?). I wouldn’t turn it down if they did but the point is I want to FEEL like my business mattered to them. I want to believe that when I tell them I’m thinking about canceling they offer more than an insult of $5 a month (not even the price of an HD movie on their On Demand service). I want them to recognize that even though $8,000 isn’t a lot to them, it’s a lot to my family and we’re going to be picky in who we give our hard earned dollars to!