For years, I relied on SurveyMonkey for my consulting practice. SurveyMonkey changed the security process for members since they believed too many people were sharing their account access. I was blocked from my active survey results for 30-days. I used the same device to login but employed a VPN and therefore hit the trip wire of 10 different user login sessions, an automatic account freeze. Customer service finally released the lock-out on the final day of my annual billing cycle, stating their new measures were for my security but using a VPN was not acceptable, even if it provided me more secure access. I did not renew after 20-years of doing business.
National Rental Car charged me a one-hour late fee for returning a rental car before the return time listed on the contract. Since my inbound flight arrived early, I picked up the car a little earlier than expected, which reset National’s calculation of the time frame for a one-week rental. No associate mentioned the adjusted return time, so I was surprised to discover that an early return was deemed late and would trigger a fee. When I suggested I was curious about the circumstances and disappointed, I was told customer service would contact me, but nobody ever called.
United Airlines changed my schedule for a future flight, and a 90-minute layover is now 7-hours. When I attempted to change the itinerary, United tried to charge a fee to redeposit the award miles and rebook the ticket. I had done the work to find a more direct, less layover intensive itinerary option that required more miles (which I was prepared to use). United claimed I could accept the 7-hour layover option or cancel, but I could not change the ticket to a better itinerary. United’s website stated I was eligible for a one-time schedule change without a fee.
These are minor inconveniences. High-quality problems. But they break the cycle of trust and promise. I promised to do business with these organizations and choose them over others, even when their price is not the lowest. They pledge to honor my loyalty with some accommodations and benefits. I would rather they say, ‘you are a number, not a relationship,’ than the promise to do better and disappoint repeatedly.
What is the minimal viable group that you can serve and thrive? When we attempt to scale, the numbers might look great, but the opportunity to disappoint grows exponentially. Like a snow storm in May landing on trees in full foliage, the added burden may break the trust you aspire to build.