The Mass Extinction of Loyal Customers


Share on LinkedIn

Do truly loyal customers actually exist? I argue the answer is no.

Before you start quoting Steve Jobs and proclaiming your allegiance to the almighty Apple, please consider this:

The fans of Netflix were die-hard, once upon a time. But with the emergence of other streaming services like Hulu Plus, Amazon, Redbox Instant and Crackle, once-loyal Netflix customers are switching to services that better suit their changing tastes and needs. Once the king of streaming video, Netflix is now struggling to remain a major player in that market.

Loyal Customers

Commercials claim generation after generation has banked at Bank of America, so why wouldn’t we? Thanks to the #occupy movement, many big bank customers are still defecting to smaller banks and credit unions.

This even happens with social networks. Specific, smaller communities like Foursquare and Jelly have been staking a claim among the Facebook masses and making it easier to cross over by addressing more specific needs and preferences.

Customers are constantly reevaluating not just your product, but the entire experience. We are kicking the tires and walking up to the shiny car in the lot to kick its tires, too.

Loyal Customers

Loyalty, as we once knew it, is dead.

Customers, for the longest time, were trapped. Switching was such a pain it kept many of us stuck in limbo – not really satisfied with our experience but not really feeling enough pain to initiate an upheaval. Now, the barriers are breaking down, and typically a 5-minute sign-up is all it takes to enjoy the spoils of becoming a new customer elsewhere.

I’ve found, with most organizations, it is too difficult to keep evaluating the competition. New companies are the ones who do this best. They explore the marketplace, find a demand or source of pain, and exploit the missing piece for customers. (Ironically, Netflix is a great example of this, too.)

Companies, however, get fat and happy while ignoring the truth. Your product is no longer cutting-edge. Your experience is lackluster and dated. But, you still have lots of loyal customers, right? Don’t be fooled. When you push evaluation and innovation to the back burner, big changes in customer expectations are brewing while your competitors stir the pot.

Loyal Customers

There will never be a “good” time.

So how should you make this a priority? As Customer Experience Investigator™, I’ve heard all the excuses for why continued (and honest) evaluation gets tabled. I get it. You are already in overtime. Your job is very demanding. Your boss is nagging you for that report that requires 2 calls to Tokyo and a massive migration to a new CRM system. Who has any down time to explore what’s happening on the outside?

The smart companies, the ones who continue to delight their customers past that honeymoon start-up phase, are the ones who prioritize and perpetuate the evaluation. Not only must you keep evaluating your experience, but you have to keep an eye on your competition, as well as changes in customer needs and expectations.

Remember stories of the Pony Express? They were hailed as heroes (rightfully) because they delivered mail. Now, the USPS is pushing enhanced and more specialized services to compete with other parcel services like UPS and FedEx. Our expectations have changed. It happens, and it will keep happening.

Loyal Customers

Stay ahead!

Evaluate. Innovate. Repeat. Remain curious, paranoid and forever investigative. The absence of constant evaluation means your competition will beat you to the punch when addressing the ever-changing expectations of your customers, and it will be the nail in your coffin.

Photo credits: Thomas QuineJackieR/DV/RS via Creative Commons license

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a globally recognized speaker, a LinkedIn Learning and instructor, and a Tedx speaker. She’s a very active writer and blogger, contributing to leading publications from Forbes to Pearson college textbooks. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.”


  1. Definitely dead. There is no loyalty anymore. Customers quickly forget how knowledgeable you are and all the favors you did for them over the years. They forget how good your customer service was. They’ll leave you for a nickel lower price.

  2. At the end of the day, loyalty, per se, was never about being steadfast in allegiance to a single company irrespective of condition changes. It was, and is, about providing optimum tangible and emotional value, superior to competitors. If a company is able to achieve that, and connect on a personalized level and on a consistent basis, it will have earned customer advocacy and bonding; and the likelihood for migration is reduced. If Netflix is taking hits – and it is – this is the result of not paying sufficient attention to changing consumer needs.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here