Is negative loyalty killing your brand?

I’m not claiming to have invented this phrase but, years ago, I used it to describe that situation where you stick with a brand despite not really having any positive feelings about it and can’t be bothered to go elsewhere.

I haven’t changed my bank account since I first opened it over 4 decades ago. Not because I think they are good but because I don’t think any others are that better that I would go to the effort of moving. No bank has come to me and said “move to us and over the next 5 years you’ll save (or make) £xxx”. No one asked if I had more pension plans than the one I had with them, and could they review these? In fact no one treated me as an individual on any level.

I was talking to a friend about this concept of negative loyalty the other day. She said “Oh I’m like that with my gym. They are just where I want them but the service is awful.”

You might say that it doesn’t have any real impact on a brand's profitability. After all, I have been with my bank over 40 years! However, I use to have loads of things handled by them, but I am now down to one product with the bank - banking. All my other financial needs are handled elsewhere - even my business account. In fact their own research showed that the more products a person has with the bank the more loyal (profitable etc) they were. And they still did nothing!

The trouble is, all their competitors are the same and no one has ever asked me to switch - not even the bank I have my business account with!

But hey, banks are big. But what about my friends gym? What if another one opens up close by. I think she’d be off like a rocket.

I also have a Tracker fitted to my motorbike. They got me to pay for 2 years fees in one go. I have not heard hide nor hare from them since. I don’t even know if the thing is still working! Will I renew? Probably not. They haven’t convinced me that it’s worth it and I’m insured anyway.

So how do you combat negative loyalty? You have to have a culture of bringing the customer alive within the business. So everyone across the business realises the impact of their interactions with customers. And what different customer segments want from the brand. You change your staff’s mentality from one of being task orientated to that of being customer focussed.

So the person at the gym tasked with wiping up the sweat (a big bug bear of my friend) does see themselves as just a cleaner. For my friend they are improving safety and the environment she is training in. Wouldn’t the staff member be more ‘involved’ if they saw their role from the customer perspective?

And, I would love to see the retention team at Tracker focus on reassuring me that, should my bike get stolen, they will have it back on my drive quickly, rather than concentrate at the last minute on how do they flog me another year’s subscription.

Brands really need to look at how they treat customers, across the board. (And that doesn’t mean sending out yet another satisfaction survey.) Because negative loyalty just means you need to spend a ton of cash on acquiring new customers.

If you'd like to find out more then contact David here or give him a call.

David: 0845 644 8884