The High Cost of Lost Customer Loyalty: Ticketmaster’s 5 Lessons For Every Industry

The High Cost of Lost Customer Loyalty: Ticketmaster’s 5 Lessons For Every Industry

A Case Study: The High Cost Of Lost Customer Loyalty That Every Business Needs To Know

Ticketmaster learned the hard way that loyalty isn’t just about the music; it’s about respecting your audience. When the cost of a concert ticket feels like highway robbery, fans will revolt. The price of Taylor Swift tickets wasn’t just dollars and cents but the erosion of customer trust. Ticketmaster’s fumble demonstrates the steep price businesses pay when they undervalue customer loyalty.

The recent Ticketmaster/Live Nation debacle involving sky-high ticket prices and questionable practices has ignited a firestorm of consumer outrage. While the entertainment industry grapples with the fallout, businesses across all sectors can learn valuable lessons about customer loyalty, pricing strategies, and the importance of transparency across the entire customer journey. (Read more about journey mapping and download my free template)

Customer Loyalty Gone Wrong: What Happened?

Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, has long faced criticism over its dominance in the ticketing market. However, recent events have amplified these concerns. During a presale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, millions of fans experienced website crashes, hours-long queues, and exorbitant fees. Ticket prices soared due to dynamic pricing, a practice where prices fluctuate based on demand.

This perfect storm of technical issues and perceived price gouging fueled a public outcry, with fans, artists, and lawmakers demanding answers. The Department of Justice even launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment.

The Ripple Effects: A Bruised Customer Experience

The consequences of this fiasco extend far beyond frustrated concertgoers. Ticketmaster’s reputation hit severely, with trust and customer loyalty plummeting. Fans felt exploited, artists felt powerless, and the entire live music experience was tainted by negativity.

In the digital age, news travels fast. Social media amplified the outrage, creating a PR nightmare for Ticketmaster. The incident also served as a stark reminder that even established brands are vulnerable to consumer backlash when prioritizing profits over customer loyalty and satisfaction.

5 Customer Loyalty Actionable Lessons for Businesses


1. Prioritize Customer Loyalty Above All Else: The Investment that Pays Off

Customer loyalty isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the lifeblood of any thriving business. When you prioritize your customer’s needs and satisfaction above all else, you’re not just building a customer base but creating a community of brand advocates who will champion your business and contribute to its long-term success. Customer loyalty isn’t just about offering a great product or service; it’s about fostering an emotional connection with your customers. It’s about showing them that you care, value their business, and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction.

As you’ll hear in my Doing CX Right Podcast Episode 130 with marketing genius Seth Godin, the investment in customer loyalty pays off in numerous ways:

  • Repeat Business: Loyal customers are more likely to return for future purchases, generating a steady revenue stream for your business.
  • Positive Word-of-Mouth: Satisfied customers become your most powerful marketers, spreading positive word-of-mouth and attracting new customers to your brand.
  • Reduced Churn: When customers feel valued and appreciated, they’re less likely to switch to competitors, reducing your churn rate and saving you the cost of acquiring new customers.
  • Increased Value: Exceptional customer service elevates the perceived value of your products or services, justifying premium pricing and encouraging upsells.

Ticketmaster’s disregard for customer loyalty, evidenced by its prioritization of profit over customer satisfaction, ultimately led to a massive backlash and tarnished its reputation. This is a stark reminder that putting customers first is a smart business strategy. 

2. Transparent Pricing is Key To Sustain Customer Loyalty and Trust:

Hidden fees and dynamic pricing can quickly erode customer trust and damage loyalty. When the final price of a product or service significantly exceeds the initial advertised price, customers feel misled and exploited. Ticketmaster’s use of dynamic pricing, where ticket prices fluctuated dramatically based on demand, was a major contributor to the backlash they faced over the year. Other companies have also endured public bad press such as Wendy’s restaurant.

In my article,Ensuring Customer Loyalty Amid Price Changes: Lessons From Wendy’s Public Backlast I explain the importance of transparent pricing and offer strategies for maintaining customer loyalty even when prices inevitably change. The key takeaways are:

  • Be Upfront and Honest: Clearly communicate your pricing structure from the outset. Don’t hide fees or surprise customers with unexpected costs.
  • Explain the Why: If you must raise prices, explain the reasons behind the change. Customers are more likely to understand and accept price increases if they know the rationale.
  • Offer Value: Focus on delivering exceptional value at every price point. This means providing high-quality products or services, outstanding customer support, and unique benefits that justify the price.
  • Communicate Proactively: Keep customers informed about upcoming price changes well in advance. This gives them time to adjust their budgets or make alternative arrangements if necessary.

By embracing transparent pricing and communicating openly with your customers, you can build trust, mitigate the risk of negative surprises, and foster long-term loyalty, even in the face of price adjustments

3. Invest in Robust Technology and Prioritize Ongoing User Testing:

A seamless online experience isn’t just nice; it’s essential for attracting and retaining customers in any industry. Ticketmaster’s downfall demonstrates the consequences of neglecting this principle. Had they invested in more robust systems and conducted thorough, ongoing user testing, they could have anticipated and mitigated the website crashes and frustrating user experience that fueled the backlash.

Whether you’re selling concert tickets, software, or handmade crafts, your website or app is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Ensure your digital platforms can handle high traffic volumes, especially during peak periods like sales or product launches. But don’t stop at technical stability. Prioritize the user experience (UX) by continuously testing and refining your digital presence. Understand how customers interact with your site or app, identify pain points, and eliminate friction at every turn.

Think of it like this: your website is your virtual storefront. A clunky, confusing, or slow website is like having a disorganized, dimly lit shop with long checkout lines. It drives customers away. On the other hand, a well-designed, intuitive, and fast-loading website is like a bright, inviting store with helpful staff and efficient service. It encourages customers to stay, browse, and, ultimately, make a purchase.

Remember, UX isn’t a one-time fix; it’s an ongoing process of listening to customer feedback, analyzing user behavior, and making data-driven improvements. By continually investing in technology and user experience optimization, you not only prevent potential PR disasters but also cultivate a loyal customer base that appreciates a seamless and enjoyable online experience.

For more in-depth insights, listen to my Doing CX Right podcast episode with Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting.

4. Listen to the Voice of Your Customers (VoC) and Make it Your Game Changer:

In the age of social media and online reviews, customer feedback isn’t just helpful; it’s a goldmine of insights that can fuel your business growth or expose potential pitfalls. Ticketmaster’s failure to adjust to the increasing number of complaints about their practices is a stark reminder of the importance of actively listening to your customers.

But listening isn’t just about monitoring social media or responding to negative reviews. It’s about systematically collecting, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback through a well-structured Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. As I discuss in my article “How to Make ‘Voice of Customer’ Your Game Changer,” a robust VoC program empowers you to:

  • Understand the Gap: Identify the difference between customer expectations and your actual delivery.
  • Gauge Satisfaction: Measure overall satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat business and referrals.
  • Uncover Pain Points: Pinpoint specific areas in the customer journey where you fall short.
  • Prioritize Improvements: Focus your resources on the changes that will most impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Adapt and Innovate: Use customer insights to drive innovation and stay ahead of the competition.

By making VoC a cornerstone of your business strategy, you can transform customer feedback into actionable insights that drive continuous improvement and unwavering customer loyalty.

5. Embrace Ethical Business Practices:

Ethical considerations should be at the forefront of your business decisions. Avoid practices that could be seen as unfair or exploitative. Build a reputation for integrity and social responsibility, and you’ll earn the respect and loyalty of your customers. A strong ethical foundation is key to lasting customer loyalty.

Key Takeaways for Businesses

In an era of social media and heightened consumer awareness, companies can no longer afford to ignore customer concerns. To thrive, businesses must prioritize customer loyalty above short-term gains, embracing transparent pricing, ethical practices, and robust technology. Investing in optimizing user experience is crucial to ensure a seamless and positive customer journey. By prioritizing customer needs and fostering a culture of respect and transparency, businesses can build lasting loyalty and avoid the pitfalls that led to Ticketmaster’s downfall. Remember, in today’s competitive landscape, customer loyalty isn’t just an asset; it’s a necessity for survival and success.

Learn How To Deliver Better Customer Service Through An Engaged and Valued Workforce.  Sign Up For My Linkedin Learning Self-Paced Course

The Great Debate: Price Vs. Customer Service in Securing Brand Loyalty

The Great Debate: Price Vs. Customer Service in Securing Brand Loyalty

Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

How can companies balance competitive price and exceptional service quality?

What drives customer loyalty more – value or quality?

Join Customer Experience expert Stacy Sherman as she welcomes Jeremy Hyde, the Director of Customer Service for Sun Country Airlines, in a fascinating conversation on the Doing CX Right podcast.

This episode tackles:

  • The balance and impact of bundled versus unbundled price strategies in the airline sector, with insights from Delta and Spirit Airlines.
  • How safety and strict regulations are at the forefront of the US airline industry, instilling confidence in travelers.
  • Tactics airlines employ to sift through feedback and complaints, using them as a compass for service enhancement and informed decision-making.
  • The various customer reactions to low-price airlines and how experience sometimes takes a backseat to pricing.
  • Jeremy’s thoughts on why a transparent price is essential to avoid customer dissatisfaction and attrition.

Timestamps And Topics About Price Versus Customer Service To Gain Customer Loyalty:

[00:00] Introduction

[01:12] Jeremy’s Role at Sun Country Airlines

[02:45] A La Carte Pricing in Airlines

[04:18] Comparing Delta’s Bundled Pricing and Spirit’s Unbundled Pricing

[06:05] Affordability and Accessibility in Airline Travel

[07:30] Safety in the US Airline Industry

[09:03] The Role of Trust in Pricing Perception

[10:42] Aligning Customer Expectations with Airline Services

[12:15] Airlines Utilizing Feedback and Complaints for Improvement

[14:28] Nuanced Approach to Customer Service Quantity and Quality

[16:50] Efficiency and Skill Challenges in Customer Interactions

[18:24] Learning from Other Experts: Advice to Younger Self

[20:17] Aligning CX with Organizational Vision and Target Customers

[22:05] The Impact of Price on Airline Customer Decision-Making

[23:45] Frontier Airlines: Cost vs. Traditional Customer Service

[25:30] The Effect of Hidden Fees on Customer Satisfaction

[27:03] Importance of Individual Development in Customer Service

[28:45] The Debate Around the Net Promoter Score (NPS)

[30:52] Cost Effectiveness and Service Options for Diverse Customer Needs

[32:40] Challenges in AI Implementation Across Different Sized Organizations

[34:58] Key Takeaway for Leaders and CEOs: Investing in People

[36:27] The Value of Challenging and Caring Leadership

[38:11] Wrapping up the Conversation with Jeremy

Whether you’re at the helm of an airline, managing customer service teams, or eager to implement customer-centric practices, listen to Stacy Sherman and guest Jeremy Hyde as they chart a course towards improved customer experiences beyond the skies.

Press Play  To WATCH On Youtube

About Jeremy Hyde:  

Jeremy Hyde is the Director of Customer Service for Sun Country Airlines and serves as the President of the Midwest Contact Center Association (MWCCA).

 With over 15 years of experience in the contact center industry, Jeremy is recognized for collaborating with industry experts and professionals to champion best practices, foster innovation, and drive the evolution of contact center strategies. He is dedicated to advancing the industry’s standards and promoting continuous improvement in customer service. Jeremy has a history of building teams from the ground up, supporting new product launches, leading through times of both crisis and historical growth, and fostering an environment that encourages both individual and collective success.

 With a deep focus on enhancing the customer experience, Jeremy is dedicated to staying at the forefront of industry trends and leveraging his expertise to contribute to the success of the contact center community. Jeremy talks about leadership, networking, customer experience, employee experience, and all things contact center.

Connect on LinkedIn

About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

Customer experience and marketing global keynote speaker, journalist, co-author of two books, advisor, and host of the award-winning DoingCXRight podcast. Known for her Heart & Science™ framework that helps you gain profitable clients and brand loyalty–fueled by an empowered workforce. Stacy’s been walking the talk for 25 years as a strategist and practitioner at companies of all sizes and industries, i.e., Liveops, Verizon, Schindler Elevator Corp, Wilton Brands, and AT&T. She’s also a board advisor at multiple universities, featured in Forbes and other top-rated publications.

Her Why: To cultivate loyal relationships and meaningful experiences that enrich people’s lives. Contact Stacy for DOING Customer Experience (CX) and Service Right, not just TALKING about it. Continue reading bio >here.

Keyword themes: Doing CX Right podcast business customer service  contact center price strategy

Ensuring Customer Loyalty Amid Price Changes: Lessons from Wendy’s Public Backlash

Ensuring Customer Loyalty Amid Price Changes: Lessons from Wendy’s Public Backlash

Navigating Pricing Model Innovations While Preserving Customer Loyalty

How can a brand’s attempt to innovate turn into a public relations challenge overnight? What does it take for a company to navigate the delicate balance between introducing new pricing strategies and maintaining customer trust? Wendy’s recent navigation through the complexities of changing its pricing model, spurred by its exploration into “dynamic pricing” based on demand, presents a rich case study in balancing innovation with customer trust.

The story began when Wendy’s, responding to evolving market dynamics, considered implementing new digital menu boards. This technology aimed to offer pricing flexibility, but CEO Kirk Tanner’s comments led to widespread speculation about potential “surge pricing” during peak times. The reaction from the public underscored the critical need for clear communication when introducing new pricing strategies.

Wendy’s promptly clarified that it had no plans to exploit dynamic pricing for increasing rates at high-traffic times. This quick response highlighted an oversight in how the intentions behind the digital menu boards were communicated, revealing a gap that Wendy’s acknowledged: “We said these menu boards would give us more flexibility to change the display of featured items… This was misconstrued in some media reports as an intent to raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants.”

This incident not only illustrates the delicate balance between innovation and customer perception but also highlights the importance of Voice of Customer (VoC) tactics must be effectively employed to gain and sustain customer loyalty. When done right, VoC can be your brand differentiator and game changer.

My goal in writing about Wendy’s situation is to help business leaders and teams ensure their pricing strategies are met with understanding and acceptance and not tarnish customer loyalty and trust. Through the lens of Wendy’s experience, I’ll demonstrate how clear communication, active listening, and customer feedback are pivotal to long term success. Let’s dive into some important customer experience lessons.

Evolving Pricing Models Demand Enhanced Customer Alignment

As the marketplace grows increasingly competitive and customer preferences become more nuanced, businesses are turning to dynamic pricing models as a solution to maximize profitability while catering to consumer demand. Dynamic pricing, a strategy that allows prices to fluctuate based on factors such as demand, time of day, customer behavior, and market conditions, represents a significant shift from traditional fixed pricing. This approach requires a deep understanding of market dynamics and a sophisticated technological infrastructure for real-time pricing adjustments. The backlash Wendy’s experienced underscores the potential pitfalls of implementing dynamic pricing without thorough customer engagement and communication. It highlights the necessity of integrating the Voice of the Customer (VoC) into every stage of the pricing strategy development process. Such integration ensures that pricing adjustments are not only data-driven but also aligned with customer expectations and perceptions, thereby preserving loyalty in an evolving pricing landscape.

The Crucial Role of Voice of Customer (VoC) in Pricing Strategies

In this context of rapid evolution in pricing strategies, VoC emerges as an indispensable tool. It bridges the gap between dynamic pricing models and customer expectations, providing insights that help businesses fine-tune their pricing strategies to reflect the value perceived by their customers. By actively listening to and engaging with their customer base, companies can navigate the complexities of dynamic pricing with greater confidence and success. Here’s how VoC influences pricing decisions:

  • Enhances Pricing Strategy: Leveraging VoC insights allows businesses to refine their pricing strategies, ensuring they align with customer expectations and enhance loyalty.
  • Informs on Demand Elasticity: Analyzing customer reactions to price changes provides valuable data on demand elasticity, enabling more adaptive and responsive pricing strategies.
  • Improves Value Perception: VoC insights help businesses understand how customers perceive the value of products or services, guiding pricing adjustments that reflect perceived value.
  • Strengthens Competitive Positioning: Knowledge of how your prices compare with competitors, informed by VoC, can guide strategic pricing to maintain a competitive edge while fostering customer loyalty.

Sustaining an Effective VoC Program

For a VoC program to truly influence business strategy and customer loyalty, it must be seen as an ongoing journey rather than a one-off project. Building a robust VoC program involves several critical steps:

  • Commitment to Continuous Evolution: A successful VoC program thrives on continuous commitment, requiring businesses to stay agile and responsive to both market trends and customer feedback.
  • Foundation of Tools: Utilizing a mix of surveys, customer interviews, and analytics platforms lays the groundwork for collecting comprehensive customer insights.
  • Culture of Customer Feedback: Cultivating a culture that values and acts upon customer feedback is crucial. This ensures that VoC insights are not just collected but are instrumental in shaping business decisions.
  • Regular Strategy Review Cycles: Establishing regular review cycles allows businesses to assess the effectiveness of their strategies in light of recent VoC insights, ensuring that adaptations are made as customer needs evolve.
  • Integration Across Business Areas: Applying VoC insights across the business, from product development to marketing strategies, ensures that all areas are aligned with delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Continuous Improvement Driven by Voice of Customer: Positioning VoC as a strategic asset empowers businesses to foster an environment of continuous improvement, where decisions are driven by a deep understanding of customer needs and expectations, thereby solidifying customer loyalty.

Implementing these practices helps businesses not only to refine their pricing strategies but also to enhance overall operations, ensuring they meet and anticipate the complex needs of their customers. This comprehensive approach is key to securing a loyal customer base in today’s competitive landscape.


Key Takeaway: Without Voice of Customer (VoC) Insights, Leaders Navigate Pricing Innovation Blindly

The Wendy’s dynamic pricing saga highlights a crucial lesson for businesses: venturing into pricing innovations without Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights is akin to sailing without a compass. This case spotlights the risk of public misinterpretation and the potential impact on customer loyalty when VoC is overlooked. Integrating customer feedback is not just advantageous; it’s fundamental for crafting pricing strategies that balance revenue goals with customer satisfaction and trust.

VoC acts as the critical navigational tool that guides businesses through pricing adjustments, ensuring strategies are attuned to customer needs and market demands. Wendy’s experience serves as a reminder that to maintain customer loyalty and navigate the complexities of pricing innovation successfully, businesses must prioritize listening to and acting on customer insights. This approach not only mitigates risks but also strengthens customer relationships, fostering a competitive advantage in a dynamic market environment.


If you need help to develop a Voice of Customer Program at your company that enables you to continuously understand buyer needs and increase customer loyalty, let’s talk.

If you like this article…

Check out my conversation with Jeremy Hyde, Director of Customer Service at Sun Country Airlines. In this article, we dive into the delicate balance between quality and price and its significant impact on customer decisions. The insights gleaned from our discussion are not limited to the airline industry but resonate across various sectors, offering valuable lessons on navigating customer expectations and business strategies. 

The Great Debate: Price Versus Customer Service in Securing Brand Loyalty

The Great Debate: Price Versus Customer Service in Securing Brand Loyalty

Deciphering Consumer Choices: The Price vs. Experience Debate

In the quest to understand where consumers decide to invest their money, the battle often lies between the allure of an unbeatable deal and the promise of an exceptional experience. This debate is a central theme in discussions across boardrooms and business meetings globally, highlighting the intricate balance between price sensitivity and the quest for outstanding customer experiences across various industries.

During my conversation with Jeremy Hyde, Director Of Customer Service at Sun Country Airlines, on my Doing CX Right podcast, we dived into these themes, drawing insights that extend beyond the airline industry. Our discussion provided valuable strategies for leaders looking to navigate consumer choice more effectively.

The Magnetic Draw of Value

Jeremy and I discussed the universal appeal of a good deal. “Offering strong value across choices is key so every customer finds an option matching their budget and priorities,” Jeremy observed. I echoed this sentiment, highlighting that while compelling value perceptions attract initial consumer interest, the true mastery lies in combining this with exceptional service to foster lasting loyalty.

Strategies for Businesses:

  • Introduce tiered pricing to cater to diverse budgets.
  • Emphasize the superior worth of products/services over their price.
  • Innovate with bolt-on upgrades and loyalty programs to enhance value.

The Differentiating Power of Customer Experiences

“The experience customers have with us is pivotal,” Jeremy shared, a sentiment I strongly support. Memorable customer experiences set brands apart, necessitating thoughtful investments in the infrastructure that supports exceptional service.

Strategies for Businesses:

Quality and Price: A Strategic Balance

Our discussion highlighted the ongoing challenge of balancing quality with affordability. “Customers want to feel they receive outstanding value,” Jeremy insightfully remarked. This principle underpins the consumer demand for experiences that justify their price, transcending conventional value propositions.

Strategies for Businesses:

  • Streamline operations to enhance service quality without escalating costs.
  • Employ technology smartly to manage costs while maintaining high service standards.
  • Promote collaboration across departments to ensure a unified and high-quality customer experience.

Consumer Psychology: The Debate Behind Decisions

There’s a lot of psychology behind consumer decision-making, and a gap between what people claim influences their choices versus their actual purchasing behaviors. Price often emerges as a critical factor in this equation, even when consumers express a preference for quality or experience. This insight is crucial for businesses aiming to balance price competitiveness with the delivery of high-quality services.

Strategies for Businesses:

  • Prioritize Transparent Pricing: Ensure pricing is clear and upfront to build trust with consumers.
  • Avoid Hidden Fees: Hidden costs can damage consumer trust and satisfaction; eliminating them can enhance perceived value.
  • Tailor Offerings to Consumer Segments: Understanding diverse customer needs allows for more personalized and effective service offerings

AI Impact on Customer Service Delivery and Pricing Strategy

AI revolutionizes customer service and pricing, streamlining operations by automating standard tasks. This shift allows customer service teams to focus on more nuanced, impactful customer interactions, enhancing service quality and efficiency. The operational savings generated can be strategically reinvested to improve pricing models or further enrich the customer experience.

Strategies for Businesses:

  • Automate for Efficiency: Deploy chatbots and AI for routine inquiries, boosting operational efficiency.
  • Personalize with AI Analytics: Harness AI for deep customer insights, enabling tailored engagement strategies.
  • Train with AI Simulations: Utilize AI-driven simulations to expedite and enhance employee training, ensuring superior service delivery.

Adopting AI in customer service operations not only streamlines efficiency but also elevates interaction quality, offering businesses a strategic advantage in both pricing and service excellence.

Conclusion: Price and Customer Service Balancing Act

As you reflect on your next airline booking, hotel stay or everyday purchase, consider the factors that influence your choices. Will you prioritize absolute savings, or seek a branded experience reflecting quality and exclusivity? This question invites both business leaders and consumers to examine our priorities.

For consumers, it is healthy to be aware what genuinely drives our spending – whether affordability limits our options despite desiring exceptional service, or we willingly pay premiums expecting enhanced experiences. This consciousness empowers our ability to align purchases with personal values.

Similarly for business leaders, routinely evaluating if strategic decisions chase lower operational expenses overelevating customer experiences facilitates clarity. In an increasingly competitive landscape, the brands that thrive are those understanding when consumers can stretch budgets for outstanding service, and when affordability is the ultimate tipping point.

By continually re-evaluating this delicate balance between price sensitivity and customer experience excellence, both buyers and sellers can make empowered choices guided by their motivations. And in doing so, they elevate businesses focused on delivering worth and meaning beyond the price tag.

What are your views? Share in the comments. Let’s keep the disucssion going.

Article is part of the Vistio Knowledge Collective

Learn How To Deliver Better Customer Service Through An Engaged and Valued Workforce.  Sign Up For My Linkedin Learning Self-Paced Course