Bell’s Cornwall Chimes

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 January 2014

Malcolm Bell - Head of Tourism (Truro) With Truro Cathedral in the back ground

Malcolm Bell - Head of Tourism (Truro) With Truro Cathedral in the back ground

Emily Whitfield-Wicks St.meva 9 Beacon road Bodmin Cornwall PL31 1AR Mob.07841 293030

Loyality isn’t what it used to be, says Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall,

who finds many big companies read ‘loyal customer’ as ‘mug’

In my day job in tourism, I always get a warm glow of satisfaction when the National Quality Research is published as we always come out on top of the key league tables. It always shows Cornwall as either the top or at least in the top three, of UK holiday destinations.

The biggest success factor in this achievement is not the numbers of visitors we get, but the customer satisfaction levels which are always the highest, combined with percentage of repeat custom and visitors’ loyalty to the Duchy. More than 80 per cent of our regular visitors do not even consider any other UK or even overseas destinations other than their beloved Cornwall.

I know our businesses treasure our regular customers and communicate frequently with them. They then go the extra mile and offer the best deals and rooms to them as a reward. The businesses recognise this loyalty and that breeds not only greater loyalty, but it also generates the greatest unpaid ‘sales force’ selling Cornwall to others. This all makes sense and anyone who uses a good loc al builder, plumber or shop knows that it makes business sense to look after and treasure loyal customers. S o what is in the minds of those companies who consider a repeat customer as some sort of MUG. Loyalty is all too often seen as a sign of weakness to be exploited, without consideration of the consequences.

For example, ever y year I have to go through the threat to leave certain suppliers such as the telecoms and energy to just get them to match a competitor’s offer. Then there is issue of new customer offers where non-loyal customers get offered a better deal than regular customers, which really drives me mad.

The other crafty move is to give a good deal one year and then sneak up the price.

For instance, I recently had a multi car insurance renewal, which was firstly very hard to understand, but after 15 minutes I did find the breakdown of the renewal costs. A further one and a half hours on the website being offered free meerkat toys, I realised that they were 50 per cent higher, and almost £400 more expensive, than others. S o Mr Mug here then phones them and after twenty minute of press one for, press two for, press three for etc, I spoke to a nice person and asked the question WHY ?

A further umpteen minutes of fluff and dust to confuse me, I just said match it or we are off.

Now I am more than able to be the grumpy man and keep switching, but when are these guys going to learn the ‘through life’ value of a customer. Our tourism businesses do, my loc al garage does and they do not have Master of Business

Administration (MBAs) from leading business schools, they have a PhD in common sense instead. These excellent local businesses see customers as people and even friends and they do not have computer driven systems to exploit MUGS. They know for experience that their future lies in generating satisfied loyal customers who will provide income for years, if not decades, to come. S o I deeply desire these guys to come out from behind the computer screens, stop being slaves to spreadsheets and yield management systems and be human beings and just remember that old saying: ‘treat people how you would like to be treated’.

In the meantime, let’s all start providing feedback to these clever clogs – I will write, well, email to the CEO of the insurance company and point out that by trying to rip

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