Numbers don’t lie

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Lately, I’ve become fascinated with numbers. There is so much detail to be had in such a small bit of information.

A number can tell you how big, or small, a company is, or how much growth a business is experiencing - all important information that is distilled clearly and precisely by using just a digit or two.

The numbers this month that caught my attention are those found in our Stat section (click to download it). STAT Resources, a research firm, recently completed an interesting survey on customer loyalty. Participants were asked a series of questions to measure their level of loyalty based on their number of years with a service provider.

The results were fascinating. The survey showed that a person’s loyalty to a security company increased substantially the longer that person remained a customer. For example, 38 percent of customers with a security company for 3 years or less are considered loyal, or someone who has no intention of shifting alliances. But that number improves to 47 percent once a customer hits 3 years with the same security company. A substantial jump happens once a customer hits the 7 year or more mark, with 69 percent labeled loyal.

It’s during those initial 3 years that alarm accounts are the most vulnerable. Nineteen percent reported actively looking for a new service provider, followed by 30 percent exploring the option and 13 percent open to an alternative.

Paul Huegel from STAT Resources summed it up well when I interviewed him for this news item. Customer service plays a major role in influencing how long a person stays with a service provider.

In many ways those results do not surprise me. Over the years my family has learned a valuable lesson: that is when you find a service provider that you like, whether it’s a cell phone, telephone, Internet provider or alarm company, you stick with that company. Too many times we’ve been burned and, yes, despite those prior lessons, I do have a recent one to tell you about.

Last year we used a different lawn service company that was slightly cheaper than our previous provider. Heck, we thought fertilizer was fertilizer and nearly anyone can spread it correctly. Needless to say, our brand new lawn does not look well this year - it’s filled with clovers and crab grass - and now it needs more care than if we had used the tried and true lawn care company that we’ve used for years.

A few years back I shared with you a story about the service issues my sister-in-law had with her former security company. She had a security system installed in her brand new house, only to run into problems less than a year later. It seemed that a door or window contact was not connecting properly and any time she set her security system when she left the house her alarm would go off.

But despite her efforts, the security company, a well-known name in the industry, did little to help. It took at least three telephone calls before they sent a technician to look at the security system and that was after she racked up false alarm fines.

Needless to say when she and her husband built a new house two years ago, they looked for a different security company.