I know why the caged customer leaves (with apologies to Maya Angelou).

This article first appeared on TheCustomer and is re-published here with permission.

CLIQ Flipped The Script

Last week, I had a disappointing product experience turn into a positive customer experience. I recently purchased a pair of Cliq eyeglass readers – if you haven’t seen or heard of them, they disconnect and reconnect at the bridge using magnets, and can hang around your neck when not in use. As is typical of online purchases, I received an email a few days later asking for a review. The problem was, I didn’t like the product. I found the field of vision to be way too small, and the neck band was also quite short resulting in smudges that I thought this style of glasses would avoid. For the record, I have a friend who wears his pair all the time and loves the product, they just didn’t work for me.

I was honest in my online review, commenting in my first sentence that I really wanted to like these glasses but that they didn’t work for me. I didn’t think any more about it until several days later when I received an email in which the company said they were sorry I didn’t love them, and that I was welcome to return them for a different pair or a full refund. I was really taken aback that they went out of their way to match my online review with my purchase. In the email, they included a link to request the refund and the details that I would need including my order number. And, when I did submit a request, it was approved in less than ten minutes.

Entitled consumers expect companies to stand behind their products and services. When we researched the attitudes of US and European consumers for Marketing to the Entitled Consumer, 45% of the segment of consumers that we labeled as “demanders” indicated that “when a product or service doesn’t meet expectations, I return the product and ask for my money back”. In this case though, I hadn’t asked for my money back. I had simply posted my honest feedback on the product. The company clearly cared enough to marry my review to my profile, and wants its customers to be happy with their purchase or to refund them their money.

Contrast this with American Airlines. The airline currently refuses to return more than $1,000 that I spent booking flights that were subsequently cancelled last March due to the Covid pandemic. They are keeping my money in hostage. But, fear not, they will do me the great honor of allowing me to use that money to book another flight on their airline – as long as it’s booked by December. I presume after that, they shoot the hostage and keep the money.

I recognize that I am, in fact, an entitled consumer. And I don’t know when we will all be traveling again. I don’t know how often I will need to travel for work. I don’t care that I was Concierge Key on American and have earned lifetime status. As soon as I have spent the money they are holding from me, I will cease to fly American unless there is no reasonable alternative.

American’s inflexibility and disregard for their customer’s expectations means that they will lose a “loyal” customer that has spent more than $100,000 a year on their airline because they refused to return the $1,000 in flights the customer couldn’t take – and has asked for in multiple ways, because they don’t even make it easy to request the refund. On the other hand, I’ll sing the praises of Cliq and their approach to customer satisfaction – maybe even on stages around the world to which I’ve flown a different airline.

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