The thing is I am angry. Yes, angry. Not cheesed-off, neither dissatisfied nor unhappy. I am mad. I created this blog so that I can have an opinion. And have a freaking opinion I will
You know, I wanted this post to be a meaningful, heartfelt review of my online escapades of 2010. About how I made a humble yet determined start to create an online presence, which culminated in this site being listed on Page 1 on Google if you’d searched “Copywriter Malaysia”; for a very brief period that is. But screw that and let’s get down to business.
In my 12 years in the advertising industry, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. And I’ve also seen many more committed by brands, marketers, agencies, advertisers and the like. And among all the mistakes; the biggest most unforgivable sin that a brand or company can make is taking their customers for granted.
And I have recently been given the middle finger by a company/brand that I’ve been loyal to for 12 years.
Ask any direct marketer worth his salt and he will tell you that once you become a customer, you should immediately be put into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programme. And most of the time, it doesn’t take much to keep a customer. A hello once in a while, maybe a small discount for purchase and perhaps a free gift or two; if budget permits of course.
The point is you want to keep your existing customer happy or at least contented. Just to let them know that they are valued for the business they’ve been diligently giving to you. And as long as customers know they enjoy just that little bit more than non-customers, everything should be well and good.
So for 12 years I was a happy camper with Maxis. No real issues or crisis-like situations, I simply got what I paid for. And then one day, I stumbled upon the fact that I was paying RM30 more than new customers for their broadband service. I was surprised and honestly thought that this was a small problem that their customer service will easily fix. Boy was I wrong!
Here’s the gist of the conversation:
Me: Hello, Maxis Customer Service?
MCS: Yes sir, how may I help you?
Me: Well, I’m just wondering why I’m paying the old price of RM98 for 3GB broadband whereas new customers only pay RM68?
MCS: Well, you must be still under contract sir?
Me: No, my contract ended just last month. Correct?
MCS: Yes, sir your contract has ended.
Me: So why am I not enjoying the reduced price of RM68 for the 3GB package?
MCS: Well sir, you purchased the package for RM98, so you will have to pay that amount indefinitely.
Me: What?! Nonsense! Are you telling me that new customers can enjoy the new price but old customers still have to pay the higher price?
MCS: Yes sir.
Me: So what do I have to do to enjoy the RM68 price?
MCS: Well you have to terminate your current broadband account and return the modem. Then register again to enjoy the RM68 price.
Me: (not believing this shit!) Errr… you mean I have to cancel and register for the same thing over again?
MCS: Yes sir, that’s the only way.
Me: Errrr… (WTF!… lost for words, hang up)
If the price of a good or service goes up, I don’t see any company saying “oh, you can still pay the old, prior-to-increase price because you have a contract”. They don’t just make the new customers pay the increased price while the existing customers pay the old, under-contract price. But when the price is reduced, every effort is undertaken to make it difficult for old customers to enjoy the new reduced rates.
We don’t even have to look at this from a marketing, CRM or customer service point of view here; just see it based on freaking common sense! Some of my friends claim that I am a bit of a diva here. They say I should just go to the Maxis Centre and re-register to enjoy the reduced rates. But why the fuck should I? I don’t want to go along with the idiotic process of re-registering for the same bloddy thing because that would make me a bigger idiot.
Maxis is seriously deluded and very arrogant to think that I would succumb to their plain bullying. I think I am going to the Maxis Centre after all, but the re-registering will certainly happen someplace else. Yes, I think I’m going to take my business (Broadband + Principal Mobile Line + 2 Supplementary Lines) elsewhere because loyalty obviously doesn’t matter.
P.S. I gave Maxis close to 3 months to explain themselves, during which time I’ve been letting my RM30 a month go down the drain. After contacting their Customer Service, I recently raised the issue in their Facebook Page (with my name and account number). I have since received no acknowledgement whatsoever… not even a squeak.
Like all things Malaysian – such as total disregard for punctuality and being suckers for free things – loafing at Mamak stalls while sipping Kurang Manis tea (which is still manis anyway) is a popular pastime. You could hang out at a Mamak with your best buds, your significant other or just by yourself. It has a universal appeal, quite comforting and always welcoming.
But what separates a good Mamak from a bad Mamak? The atmosphere doesn’t really play a part. Food across all, if not most Mamaks are quite consistent. And prices don’t differ much from one stall to another. When you think about it, it’s the level of service that determines which Mamak stall you frequent. It’s the rapport you build with the servers and how it takes only 10 minutes to tuck into your favourite greasy dish every time, no matter how busy they are. This however may not hold true for everyone, but I think quite a few of us could relate to this observation. Service is important to me anyway.
Now that I’ve some sort established what a good Mamak is, let’s look at the bad ones. Imagine this scenario:
Bang, mari bang. Duduk bang. Maggi goreng ade, mee goreng ade, nasi goreng ade, nasi lemak ade, roti ade, murtabak ade, western ade, tose ade, chapatti ade, semua ade bang. Minum ape pun ade bang, tongkat ali ade, fres oren ade, neslo, horlo, koteh pun ade bang!
Come brother, come. Sit brother. We’ve got fried instant noodles, fried noodles, fried rice, lard rice, greasy pancakes, stuffed greasy pancakes, western food, Indian pancakes, Indian toasted pancakes, all we have brother. Drinks also we have it all brother, ali’s cane (an aphrodisiac), fresh orange, nescafe+milo, horlicks+milo, coffee+tea also we have brother!
Hmmmm… strangely the English version is longer than the Malay version.
Anyway, after this friendly Mamak fellow advertises his offerings, which in fact confuses you further, he leaves you to deliberate while repeating the same thing to the next bunch of walk-ins. While this strategy packs in the customers, it leaves the already seated customers out in the cold. I’ve been to places where they don’t even bother to collect my payment as they are still busy preying on new customers. Needless to say, I’ve never been back.
Now a question. What do many businesses in Malaysia have in common with our common Mamak stalls? Yup, you guessed it. It’s this unhealthy fetish to attract new customers, while neglecting the ones they already have. Even when it’s common knowledge that acquiring a new customer is more expensive than retaining an existing customer. And the new customer may not even be as profitable when compared to an existing customer.
While advertising is critical to attract new business and for brand building, not giving due attention to existing customers could have dire consequences. Because in the increasingly wired consumer world, one unsatisfied customer could deter many potential customers, no matter how good your product, advertising or brand is. For the uninitiated, the process of endearing yourself to existing customers is called Customer Relationship Management or CRM for short. Serve well, keep in touch and reward your customers occasionally. They will show their appreciation via word-of-mouth to their peers, friends, family and acquaintances. And nothing beats that.
Teh tarik kurang kurang kurang manis satu!