I can’t remember which smart person said it but these words have stuck with me: “You learn more about a person at the end of a relationship than at the beginning.” This is true of couples as well as organizations.
Last month I broke up with the Globe and Mail which was a big deal given my husband and I have been loyal readers forever. I wrote a letter to Zen Habito, the G&M’s Director of Loyalty and Retention, letting her know we were splitting up.
My letter was cheeky (written like a break-up letter to a lover) and I didn’t expect a response. After all I am just one of thousands of subscribers.
What happened next is an excellent case study in how organizations can succeed in restoring customer loyalty. Habito did email me back and her response blew me away. She did three things really well.
Apologized from the heart. Habito used “relationship” language in her email, continuing to play on the tone of my letter. She wrote, “I’ve only been married since 2013 but something I’ve learned is to take accountability for when you’ve let down your partner and simply be better. Sue, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that our journalism and business decisions have disappointed you.”
Accepted rejection with grace. Habito thanked us for supporting the G&M for as long as we did, rather than respond on the defensive: “It is support from readers like you that allow our team of journalists to tell the stories of Canadians that need to be told. So, I want to take this opportunity to thank you, again, for your support, patience and understanding over the years.”
Tried to win us back. She wouldn’t be Director of Retention & Loyalty if she didn’t try to close a sale—but she did it in such a lovely manner: “You deserve the best in Canadian journalism but because we’ve lost your trust I understand your decision to leave. All I can ask is that you reconsider and allow us the opportunity to rebuild that trust and rekindle that excitement.”
Did she woo us back? You betcha. And then she wrote the sweetest thing of all: “I am grateful that you’ve decided to give us a second chance. One of my favourite relationship quotes is from Dr. Robert Holden – “One of the big mistakes I think we make in relationships is that we do not give our best energy to the people that matter most”. Thank you for reminding me to put this into practice at work and not just at home.”
Photo credit: Flickr/marco monetti-high culture
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