Siriusly, XM? Brand Loyalty Despite the Process
Brand loyalty isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s like watching a frustrating relationship on some hyper-emotional cable network movie. One person is deeply in love and committed to the relationship, while the other is apparently too self-centered to even notice, much less address anyone else’s needs.
Have you ever loved a brand that treated customers like that?
The Happy Customer
When I bought a new minivan for my wife last year, I subscribed to Sirius XM satellite radio. I used to enjoy it only in rental cars, but we finally bit the bullet and have thoroughly enjoyed the service. It has fed my addiction to Broadway cast recordings and it has renewed my appreciation for classical music. It has helped to satisfy my wife’s need for 80s hair bands, and it has given our whole family a new appreciation of classic radio personalities and programs like Jack Benny, Johnny Dollar, Suspense, Lux Radio Theatre, and Fibber McGee & Molly.
So this year, when I bought a new vehicle for myself, I was happy to enjoy the free trial of Sirius XM. Three free months, then I’ll just add it to my account – easy, right? Wrong.
I began being pursued as a new customer immediately after purchasing the second vehicle. I can understand the automated nature of the initial campaign to woo me, but it was clear that nobody ever bothered to check whether I was a current subscriber or not. After all, the same name, address, and phone number had been used to purchase the first vehicle and to subscribe to the service.
A couple of weeks ago I got a call warning me that my free trial was expiring and that I could subscribe for the next five months for only $25. I said that sounded great, and that they should just add it to my account since I was already a happy customer. What do you think happened next?
The Unamazing Process
My request, as you probably suspect, could not be met. In order to enjoy the reduced fee for the new vehicle, their internal process required me to create a separate account. The service representative advised me to make a note to call them back in October and have them consolidate my accounts.
– I am a current customer.
– I expressed my pleasure at being a current customer.
– I expressed that I want to expand my relationship by adding additional purchases to my account.
– In order to do that, their process forces me to create a new account, possibly complicating my existing relationship.
– I have to take the initiative to call them back to simplify the situation in five months.
Analyzing the Breakdown
Let’s just assume that it’s reasonable to extend benefits to new customers that you don’t extend to current happy customers. This may not be the case, and the issue is still debated widely by marketing and customer retention experts. But even granting that it’s true for the sake of argument, the experience described above still falls short of “amazing.” Why?
- It fails to recognize that the customer doesn’t really care about the details of your process, except to the degree that it hinders their desired outcome. I should not ever hear about what your computer system allows you to do or not do.
- It puts the focus on the needs of the company, and not the outcomes for the customer. Our conversation turned from what I wanted to what the company needed. They needed me to make another account. They needed to get redundant information from me that they already had. They needed me to be patient while screens were toggled.
- It places responsibility on the customer to solve a problem intrinsic to the process. I was instructed to make a note on my calendar to call them back in October to fix the issue. Siriusly, XM? Even if the process is going to be a hindrance, the service agent should take the initiative to note my issue on my account and add some kind of flag within their own system. If they can automatically track me down to pursue me as a new customer, then adding a small note to automatically contact me in September or October is not unreasonable. It just requires that someone think of it.
I fully recommend the high quality product produced by SiriusXM, and I have generally been pleased with the service I receive. But this episode is a good example of how what seems perfectly reasonable to a company due to internal process constraints can be completely unreasonable to a customer attempting to do more business with them.
Can you remember a time when your interaction with a preferred brand became more about their process than about your outcome? Tell me about it in the comments.