And that loyalty has paid off. Hotmail began a real shift in the last few years. They realize they took a lot of things for granted and dropped a few balls. And increased functionality in their product has been great. So over the past 2 years instead of choosing to open new accounts on other platforms I added to my existing hotmail world. I did have a gmail account for my other blog for a while. But it is now lives in my hotmail, along with my other 3 email accounts that all come into my hotmail hub. So instead of having to come back to hotmail, I'm still there. My loyalty has paid off with a better product. And I right where I want to be. Even if it makes me the only geek in the room.
But lets be honest. Did I stay with Hotmail because of a strong sense of loyalty? Did they give me fantastic customer service that I would never dream of leaving? Did they offer me discounts or loyalty offers? NO.
I stayed because, really I didn't want to change my email account. Yup, I was too lazy to change to something else.
Apparently this is true in many aspects of my life. If it ain't broke I don't go out of my way to fix it. I present the following as evidence:
- Same bank since 1986. Yes, I've added other banking products at other banks/credit unions. But my main account is still with the same bank. Why? Well to me all the major banks come with their pros and cons. So why switch unless I really need to. I always figured I'd change when I bought a house and had to figure out a mortgage (but I live in Vancouver and lets be frank a house isn't going to happen soon).
- Same hairdresser since 1999. Now I love my hairdresser and she continues to deliver a great product. She doesn't offer me price discounts. But I feel she takes care of me. I feel she appreciates my business and doesn't take me for granted. So I'm loyal. No cheating. Not even once in 12 years.
- Same hotmail account since 1997.
- Same car since 1999.
- Same Internet provider since 2000.
- Same cell phone provider since 2001.
So does this mean these brands can assume I'm a true brand loyalist? No (except my hairdresser who I would recommend to anyone). It just means I haven't been given a reason to leave for someone else.
Unfortunately many brands read my loyalty as good points for them. And then they leave me alone. Well, except to perhaps offer me a discount to upgrade my service (and why is it I'm always suspect of their offer to help assess my products to make it better for me... always feel it is better for them). Yet, I see many of the same company's offering new customers a great bonus to lure them over.
Here is a novel idea. What about spending a bit of time really nurturing your existing customers to ensure they become true brand loyalists. Instead of just lazy customers. Hotmail is certainly an example of a business working hard to keep my business. They took a hard look at their product (and past mistakes), made some real customer focused improvements and are now reaching out to their loyal customers.