Britain is a country with little focus on customer care. In fact for many UK businesses rewarding customers for their spend and loyalty appears to be an after thought. Rarely do companies invest in their customers so to get them to do the ‘word-of-mouth’ sale on their behalf, which as we know is the best endorsement and way to get new customers in.
Just look at UK mobile phone operator O2, which yesterday released details of it’s pricing policy for the Apple’s much anticipated iPhone 3GS, over which it has exclusive UK rights. The sting wasn’t the 18-month fee of between £96 and £274 depending on your tariff, but the cost for current customers who signed up for the minimum term this time last year. Existing customers were told that they would have to pay for the remaining terms of their existing iPhone 3G contracts, which could be anything over £150. All very different to when O2 offered a free upgrade from the first iPhone to the current hand-set.
You would have thought that pricing policy for such a desirable product would have been developed whereby existing customers aren’t made to feel hostage. In fact, the sweets have been offered to new customers while existing ones are being ignored. A big mistake given that many O2 iPhone users have turned against the company, complaining not just about its pricing policy but it’s lamentable 3G nationwide coverage, to name but a few points.
You wonder why the company didn’t think of empowering its customers with new models so to reward them and encourage them to further promote the company and brand to others. Blogs though are being written picking on all of O2s issues, working to dissuade customers from switching to a company that cares little for their users.
The #O2fail hashtag and Twitition on Twitter have over 2100 people signed-up. And the blogosphere is certainly working hard to knock O2 where it hurts. The media is also running stories, with The Daily Telegraph and Sky News highlighting the concerns from loyal customers.
As it stands and having set a populist precedent with the free upgrade between the first and second generation iPhone O2 have a lot to do to stop the steady stream of complains. It takes a lot to build a reputation and it looks like they’ve forgotten the golden rule of ‘looking after our customers’ first.