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David FullerI wanted to pay my Telus bill recently and because I had to update my credit card, I went to their website to contact customer service.

Apparently due to COVID-19, a note on the Telus website tells customers to expect longer than normal waiting times.

Last year, before the effects of COVID-19 on their service levels, it took more than two hours to fix an issue I had with Telus by phone through their customer service centre.

So I decided to use the website chat feature, expecting faster service. After 45 minutes on the chat, I was finally able to figure out how to update my payment.

During this considerably frustrating period, I decided I no longer needed a house phone. I had been a customer of this company for 35 years and felt they had taken my loyalty for granted.

In an effort to stop my departure, they reduced my costs substantially and then came the pitch for additional services. Because I was ready to upgrade my Internet services, I took their offer on a two-year contract. We settled on a price and everyone seemed happy.

Two hours later, Telus was desperately calling and emailing me. It seems they had made a mistake. They bought out my service provider the previous month so I was already their customer and they couldn’t offer me any deals.

They were prepared to offer substantial deals to strangers but not to friends.

We see these senseless practices all the time in business. Why would you treat an unknown new customer better than you treat a customer who has been loyal to you for years? Why is it that we think these new customers are going to stick around after their contracts expire?

Unfortunately, this type of thinking breeds discontent with loyal, long-term customers. When your loyal customers feel neglected and mistreated compared to your new customers, there’s a level of discontent that breeds embitterment.

I had someone tell me this week how upset they feel when they see this practice but are refused a similar deal after contacting their supplier.

Companies like Telus need to realize how embarrassing this is for staff who must deny these deals to loyal customers. Not only are they setting their employees up to have to respond to irate customers, but the customer now has to make a choice between staying with that company and looking elsewhere for a similar product or service.

A better way to handle business development is to create an environment where there’s substantial value for new clients to do business with your firm while recognizing and rewarding loyalty.

By being proactive with pricing and transparent with deals, trustworthy companies will not only adjust prices for short-dated products and services, but offer new products, services and technologies to existing customers at rates similar to those they’re offering to new prospects.

I’m not sure why Telus doesn’t adopt this model.

Taking care of our customers can be a lot of work. However, studies show it costs five to 10 times more to bring a new customer up to speed than to take care of an existing one.

Treating loyal customers with honour and respect should include giving them proactive pricing and consideration for their dependable patronage.

Failure to achieve this results in a dysfunctional business model, which Telus seems to have created, necessitating a ceaseless search for new customers.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Discontent or loyal follower? Email [email protected]

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