The Dalai Lama tweets his words of wisdom each day, inspiring followers to become better people in 140 characters or less. But just the other day, His Holiness tweeted one bit of advice that really struck a cord: "If you conduct your life on the basis of truth and honesty, it gives you a sense of satisfaction and self-confidence." With truth and honesty as the foundation of all solid relationships, I could not help but find this to be a great suggestion for both individuals and businesses. Truth and honesty really do build a sense of satisfaction--for companies as well as customers. We come to depend on certain goods and services, confident that we've made the right choice. It's not until these relationships are strained that we begin to stray, breaking the bonds of loyalty.
Lately, when I come home, I will turn my computer on only to find there's no Internet connection. Having been more than reliable for the last year or two, I was shocked to find this to be a continuing epidemic, happening at least three times a week. This unpredictability tests my patience on a near-daily basis, of course, as I have to wait almost an hour at times for the connection to magically kick in. But those wires coming from my router may actually be the strings our provider uses to manipulate our contract.
Coincidentally, around the same time service started deteriorating, we began receiving pesky phone calls and mail offers suggesting we "bundle" our services, promising us the fastest high-speed Internet available. Call me suspicious, but I suddenly felt trapped. How convenient that, at the exact moment we need a better Internet connection, our provider (while already holding all the strings) has created a new, albeit more expensive, option that may just solve our problem.
Years ago, we suffered the same fate, only to have no choice but to deal with shoddy service or upgrade to the plan we basically had in the first place. Much like entrapment, they know customers want to avoid the hassle of switching providers, eventually signing up for the "improved" service instead.
But such tactics, when used repeatedly, strain the loyalty ties that bind. Companies should build long-lasting relationships based on honest, reliable service. Instead, many service providers know current customers are essentially locked in, completely neglecting the fact that those customers are the ones who have the power to convert others. They try to squeeze more money from the ones who are already spending instead of building a trustworthy reputation that transcends all providers in their sector. They fail to raise the question: What will happen when those pockets are drained dry?