Do you stick with your plumber because he or she is a friend of a friend? Or a hairdresser because you’ve used them for years? Or a gardener who’s not quite up to scratch, but you don’t want to put them out of a job?
I’m fascinated when I hear people talk about a service they’re unhappy with but don’t finish it, because they’re either scared of hurting the individual’s feelings or putting the person out of business.
I have to confess I occasionally find myself in this camp. Don’t get me wrong – if the service is bad I’ll certainly complain about it or go elsewhere. But if it’s mediocre, and I’ve been going through the motions with that person for a few years, I’ll continue ticking along.
Cutting my hairdresser out
I love my hairdresser for all the right reasons. She offers excellent service, always listens to what I want and politely persuades/dissuades (delete as appropriate) me out of a drastic change.
However, last weekend I had to book an appointment with her colleague and I was horrified at the thought of being disloyal to her. I can’t help but feel like a traitor by seeing someone else – it’s like I’m having an affair.
Now, I do have justified reasons for ‘seeing someone else’ – the salon manager was trying to wean clients onto another colleague in preparation for my favourite hairdresser’s maternity leave (I will of course return to her when she is back from leave).
But I was so unsettled by this that I spoke to her before visiting the salon (and changing my allegiance!) to reassure her that I wasn’t ‘cheating’ on her.
Our local loyalty
We’ve discussed the problem of switching in the financial world before on Which? Convo – a topic of a slightly different nature because you’re unlikely to ever feel embarrassed to tell your bank you’re leaving them. In fact, I’m always quite pleased when I can tell my bank/insurance provider that I’m on my way out because I’ve found a better deal.
Perhaps the more impersonal contact we have with financial providers makes us feel less connected. Not to mention that they’re often big national names, compared to the local businesses we’re more likely to encounter in our daily lives.
Are you an overly loyal customer, or am I the only one who comes out of our local deli with two bags of shopping when I went in for bread because I just wanted to keep her in business?