Reaching the end of a mobile phone contract I started looking at the options and began that process by talking to the current network provider. I'd been with them for three years, hadn't had any problems, so felt comfortable staying with them until I found a deal elsewhere at a much lower rate. And here came the loyalty question. Should I stay with the company I know well, whom I never had any problems with, even though I could save money by switching providers? I thought about what would make me stay and my loyalty started to not seem so pure as the decision I reached was that I'd stay if they had an incentive for me. If they were willing to offer me something that benefited me then they could have my business for longer. That and matching the lower rate I could get elsewhere.
I discussed this with a friend who simply replied, "People are not loyal anymore." I felt guilty as I had perpetuated this idea and wondered if I'm the only one breaking ranks and choosing what's best for me even after years of good service from a company.
And what about bank accounts? Have you ever switched? Many of us are nervous about moving as even though we complain about the surprise bank charges and overseas call centres it often feels as 'better the devil you know' is good advice to follow.
What would make you be loyal?
My energy supplier might not be the cheapest but they are easy to contact – no high rate telephone numbers – have a UK call centre, and they give a month's Direct Debit payment back each year. That works for me but companies are always only one complaint away from losing long-term business.
Graham Jones, an Internet Psychologist, touched on this in a recent newsletter where he found himself choosing to use companies where he liked the people. So even in our online world, the human face of a company is extremely important.
I discussed this in a cafe - where I had a loyalty card stamped for our drinks, of course - and the conclusion we reached was that as long as we get something back we'll remain loyal. Is that a sad reflection on society today or the right attitude in this current financial climate?
(Images: (c) David Loudon and souldestine via morguefile.com)