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Edition 123 – The Value of Loyalty

Are you as loyal to your customers and clients as they are to you? Do you appreciate the length of the relationship that you have and do you honour it accordingly?

As most people know, I’m passionate about cars. Always loved them. Back in the days of no seat belts, I used to stand up on the front seat of the Chrysler Valiant calling out all the different car names – all before I was two. Even today, there’s not many cars that pass me on the street that I don’t know the name of.

The passion I have for cars is centred around the Ford universe. My very first Ford was my second car – a silver 1985 XF Ford Fairmont Ghia – 3 speed auto, as big as a barge, beautiful velour seats, the first digital speedo and a stereo that absolutely rocked. I loved that car.

Over the past 20 years, either our family or our business has purchased nine new cars from Ford. Eight of those were Australian made. The only one made overseas was the Ford Focus. Occasionally there was an issue with one of the Australian made Fords – but nothing too serious.

The same can’t be said for the Ford Focus. This was our eldest son, Callum’s first car. It’s the same car where we complained to the dealer on a number of occasions the automatic transmission was jumping and didn’t feel right. Each time we went back to the dealer, we were spun the same line. They can’t identify the issue. It’s probably to do with our son’s driving style. We’ve tested the car and it is within the parameters of acceptance. Blah blah. In other words:

  1. We don’t know; or,
  2. Go away; or,
  3. Both of the above.

When Callum was almost involved in a major accident at an intersection late one evening after the Ford Focus completely lost drive did Ford decide to do something about it.

The car turned up to their workshop on the back of a truck. It was only then they admitted there was a problem. They fixed the car, though there was a huge amount of anxiety at the time as the dealership informed us they weren’t sure Ford Australia’s head office were going to warranty the replacement of an automatic transmission. All this on a 3 year old car with 70000km on the clock. After a week off the road, the car was repaired – and we dodged a bullet on the repair bill.

In April, Ford’s appalling behaviour in the way they treated their customers who complained about the automatic transmission in Ford Focuses and other European manufactured Fords cost the company a $10 million fine from the ACCC – the equal highest fine ever issued.

Ford will pay the fine. They have issued the standard press release about apologising to their customers and how they will do better next time. However, their customers are still lumbered with lemons.

What Ford’s management don’t understand is that they’ve lost not one, but potentially four customers. Both of our sons are looking outside the Ford world for their next car. Most likely, they’ll never purchase another Ford. Goodwill completely evaporated.

Ford’s indifference to the issue at the time that it arose will cost them considerably more than a $10 million fine. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. What they won’t know is what they’ll never sell in the future as a result of the poor way in which they looked after their loyal customers.

When you open up the doors to your business this morning, here’s my advice. Treat the customer right and with respect. Build a relationship with the customer and earn their trust. It’s not that hard to do – and clearly, when the large corporates of the world deal so poorly with their customers, it doesn’t take a lot to really stand out from the pack.

This Week’s Tip

“If the customer keeps coming back, that’s called loyalty. If you don’t listen to their concerns, that is called disloyalty. Which are you exhibiting to your customer?”