How to lose a brand ambassador in 10 minutes

The easiest way to say goodbye to loyal customers


Remco Magielse

3 years ago | 7 min read

[Sarcasm mode on] Every one in business knows that loyal customers are the worst. They keep coming back to your organisation and continuously demand your attention.

They tell their friends and family about your products and services. They always post images on their social channels and leave positive ratings. They ensure that you always have to work.

And the worst thing is: they feel entitled to receive proper attention from you, because they are spending their money with your company instead of another company. Yuk! Ugh!? Bleh! It’s best to get rid of those loyal customers as quickly as possible.

That will make sure that you always can decide what you want to do, instead of delivering value to your customers. Crush your brand knights! [/Sarcasm mode off].

Today I had been explaining the value of User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) to people in our company. I explained to our recruiter that in order to deliver customer value, you need to be on top of your game throughout the full value delivery funnel.

We need to hire people that understand this and can make sure that we as a company deliver this.

Well, isn’t it ironic that on the exact same day I experience the worst treatment in customer experience I’ve ever had.

This makes a great example to showcase why any failure to deliver proper customer value in your product or service flow can lead people to abandon or even have a strong aversion against your company.

The situation: What happened?

Several weeks ago we made a reservation for our holiday this year. Based on good experience with the company we decided to make 2 reservations in two different holiday parks.

We paid everything upfront. One of the reservations included accommodation specially designed for children. It was slightly more expensive, but had dedicated beds for children, some toys and games, and was nearby a playground. Excellent!

The company seems to understand their value proposition given this offering. The accommodation is a bit more expensive, but I’ll happily pay up to suit my needs.

Four weeks prior to the start of our holiday we receive an e-mail (see the image below). The park is renovating some parts and our accommodation is close to the renovation area. They must relocate us to another accommodation. Could we please reach out to them?

We reach out to them the next day. Unfortunately, they don’t have any equivalent accommodation available. They have similar accommodation available, but that isn’t equipped for children.

As a matter of fact, they cannot even facilitate an additional child’s bed, because it doesn’t fit in the accommodation. They do have a larger accommodation available, suitable for 8 people, but we’d have to pay the difference (almost double).

If we don’t want that then they can move us to a different park, where we’d also have to pay the difference to the accommodation there, or we can travel another time.

This is not really a realistic option, since we have arranged holidays with our employers. We can’t change that on a few weeks notice.

We decide to look up the proposed accommodation. It’s not dedicated to children, but it’s close enough. Surely enough they can exchange one of the beds for a child’s bed so we can at least put our children to bed safely.

The amenities may vary a bit in that type of accommodation, but we assume that they can at least ensure that we get the same level of comfort. Furthermore, we expect that we get reimbursed for the difference in price.

Perhaps they even toss in a small comforting gesture like a free activity with the kids, or some coffee or tea with cake. Overall, it’s not what we expected and hoped for, but we’ll make the best of it.

We call the customer service center to ask them to change our reservation to a similar accommodation, discuss whether they can place a child’s bed and refund us the price difference. Surprisingly enough they can’t do any of these things.

They will put us in the other accommodation, are not willing to exchange a bed, and have the company policy that they will not refund the difference in price.

We are upset, disappointed and frustrated. We feel tricked. Something that we were looking forward now triggers a direct negative emotion. Customer service has just killed our complete holiday experience in less than 10 minutes.

Blue marked area describes the reason for the renovation and why this is great for the company. Red marked area describes the impact on me, the customer.
Blue marked area describes the reason for the renovation and why this is great for the company. Red marked area describes the impact on me, the customer.

How to kill your loyal customers

What can we learn from this example? What is the most efficient way to kill a loyal customer and completely destroy a good customer experience.

Step 1: Focus on your company, not on your user

To start with: make sure customers feel undervalued. Do not put any focus on them and their situation. The e-mail we received described about 90% of the text concerns why this renovation is a great addition to the park.

It dedicated exactly 3 lines to the impact on our situation. It left us completely puzzled about what is going to happen. It also left the initiative to solve the problem with us.

Step 2: Never ask what your customer wants, tell them what you give them

If you get to speak to your customer try to completely ignore their wishes. Value propositions are for losers. Business propositions are for winners. You shouldn’t care about the specific situation of your customer.

Do not try to understand their problem. You know best how to solve this situation. If your customer tries to explain that the product you offer them is not exactly what they need: persist. What the heck do they know about your products!

Value propositions are for losers. Business propositions are for winners.

Step 3: Change your customer service agents into company service agents

People only call you to complain. They never call to compliment you. Sure, they might tell their friends and family about great service, but you never get any credit.

Make sure that your call center agents understand your company policy and can defend it at all times. You can easily achieve this by taking away their authority and freedom to help out customers. You have to ensure that they cannot offer anything to a customer.

They must ask for permission at all times. That will ensure they will fail to understand those completely unreasonable demands of your customers. Company over customers! Company first! Make our company great again!

Step 4: Take! Never give

Your customers should be happy to give you money. You have the product they want. If your customers are not satisfied with that product, first discuss how they can give you more money and then listen to them.

Come on, this is business. Business is about money. You can’t run a business if you are not getting money in. It doesn’t matter if you don’t deliver the right product.

The first priority should always be to get money in. Never out. You know what, you should make this a company policy!

Step 5: Problems are never yours

If a customer has a problem, it’s their problem. At all costs you should avoid to make the problem yours. Never take ownership. Never show understanding for their problem. It’s especially important that you do not admit that you caused the problem.

The only thing you can admit is that you offer a proper solution to their problem. They have a problem, but you have the solution. After all, the customer has decided to purchase your product. It’s not your problem they chose you over the competitors.

The worst thing you can do is to find any form of compensation for the situation. As said before: Take! Never give.

They have a problem. You have the solution.

Deliver great customer value

If you are working for a company that is actually interested to deliver great value to a customer, you might take the lessons above to deliver a great customer service. Research has shown that every interaction with your customer is a chance to reinforce your brand value. Make those interactions count.

In this case, the company could have easily turned our sentiment around if they had resolve the incident adequately. It’s even shown that proper handling of customer complaints can improve your brand value. Only a few customers complain. The others will simply leave your company and never return.

What this example also shows is that you can invest as much money, time and dedication on specific aspects of your value delivery, such as beautiful ads, a great website, a smooth reservation and booking process, but you are only as strong as your weakest point.

Your weakest point drags your complete value delivery funnel down.

Brand value is hard to acquire. It’s a process that takes trust. (Further reading: The Trust Equation) Customers need to trust that your company delivers what it promises.

If your company fails to deliver according to expectations trust is easily lost. It may even turn against you and people may actively advise people against your company.

Remco Magielse is a product manager at is a high tech company focusing on Conversational Commerce in The Netherlands. He has worked as a system engineer and product manager at Philips Hue. Remco has gained his Ph.D. on the dissertation titled ‘How to design for adaptive lighting environments: Embracing complexity in design’. He writes articles about product and software development, product management and user experience, and the hard- and soft-skill required for product management. He is passionate about innovation and has contributed to approximately 50 patents.


Created by

Remco Magielse

Father, Huisband and board game enthousiast. Designer by education, product manager by profession. Passionate about innovation, technology and space travel.







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