Customer loyalty turned upside down!

Sometimes you step back and think, who thought this was a good idea. I received my monthly cable bill yesterday which includes my internet, phones and cable TV. The bill reflected a $50 increase or about 20 %. My cable provider has an office about a mile away so I stopped by while out on a few errands. The clerk referred by billing questions to the supervisor on duty who immediately determine the cause of the increase. My plan has a 20% bundle discount which expires June 1st. every year. Without hesitation he immediately renewed by bundle discount for another year and then cautioned me to avoid this happening again by marking my calendar with a reminder to stop by the store next year by the end of May to renew the discount. He then added that it would be shame for me to lose the discount since I’ve been a loyal customer for over twenty years. This is when the fun started since in my business as a retail consultant I’m always discussing ways for retailers to maintain their loyal customers.
This is basically the conversation that followed: “So you acknowledge that I am a loyal customer and my monthly bill is over $300 a month. Why is the burden on me to remind you that my bundle discount needs to be renewed every year? Cable companies are losing customers who have alternative services especially for movies and TV programming.” His response was “Why would we just automatically renew the discount without customer asking for it? That would be foolish on our part.”I received a call later in the day from customer service supervisor as a follow up. She was aware of my conversation at the local store and expressed her gratitude for my business and being a loyal customer. She also was happy they were able to maintain my discount but next year I should get to the store sooner to renew it, since there policy is to allow only a one week grace period from the expiration date. They turned the whole process upside down. In essence what they saying, “Even though you’re a loyal customer we require you to contact us annually and tell you want to remain a loyal customer”. Interesting concept! Here’s my takeaway, review any policies, procedures or processes you have than are barriers to customer’s maintaining a relationship with your store and remove then immediately. Every interaction with a customer either enhances or diminishes the relationship. Think about it!