Want Customer Loyalty? Don't `Nickel-and-Dime' Them

One of the most infuriating things for customers is when they are hit with hidden or unexpected fees.
Customer Loyalty

One of the most infuriating things for customers is when they are hit with hidden or unexpected fees. Prime examples include being slapped with a double ATM fee for a cash withdrawal (the fee charged when you use an out-of-network ATM and then the penalty that your own bank imposes). Or when a hotel charges separate WiFi fees for each device that's used. One of my favorites is the convenience fee that's levied when ordering concert or other types of entertainment tickets online. On the flip side, consider the goodwill and loyalty that's generated when a company provides assistance to a customer at no charge.

This happened to me last week. I'd been having trouble charging my smartphone in recent weeks and suspected that the phone may need a new battery. When I visited a local store for our wireless provider, a sales associate there asked me about the nature of the problem I was experiencing. Although the sales associate could have simply installed a new battery for $80, he instead checked the charge port on my phone and noticed that some gunk had built up on the port that was preventing the phone from charging properly. (I don't know what the source of the gunk was, but a safe guess is that chocolate may have been involved).

After cleaning the port with a device that looked like a safety pin, the sales associate plugged the phone in and it immediately began to charge. There was no fee for his service, which took about 3 minutes, and the sales associate sent me on my merry way.

We've all had encounters like this. Like a trusted automotive mechanic that makes a free adjustment to your vehicle during a service appointment after spotting a potential problem. Or being offered a free upgrade on a rental car, even when you're not a frequent customer.

Little things like this mean a lot to customers and can have a big impact on loyalty. By comparison, when customers feel like they're being charged for services that should be included in the cost of doing business with a company, they're more likely to seek out another provider that's transparent about its costs and doesn't surreptitiously fleece its customers.