thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Keeping Customers

By on March 10, 2010

Why do companies care more about customers when they threaten to leave? Rather than trying to answer that question, we should all consider how we think about our current customers while we still have them.

Here's a personal story that happened recently.

Waterbottle_lrgActual scenario: We have been using a company that delivers bottled water to our office for almost five years. A competing delivery service provided us with a free trial and offered to lower our monthly costs. We were ready to change. However, I telephoned our current company, found the name of our account representative (who had never called or visited our offices) and made him aware of the lower offer. He immediately offered a 15% discount--no hesitation. His explanation for lowering the price was that we had been a “good customer” for years. Since the prices were comparable, we stayed with the original supplier.

"What if?" scenario: How do you think we would have felt if the incumbent supplier had proactively called our company with the price reduction? Pleased with the lower cost? Happy with the recognition as a good customer? Shocked to find out that someone was monitoring our account and actively working on our behalf to keep our pricing competitive? Willing to tell the story to others? "Yes" is the answer to all of these questions.

Keeping "good customers" happy and motivated should be part of any customer-centered approach. Instead of silence, there should be a process to regularly review performances for these customers rather than waiting for them to call or, even worse, to leave without calling.  This should not be a judgment call. It should be automatic to treat loyal customers favorably. It's an old story that many companies still never seem to learn. We know it in hindsight, but we never initiate the offer.

Every organization should have a system that questions itself with "What should our customers be asking us for?" Proactively giving the best to your good customers will reward your organization with benefits that will outweigh any short-term effects. This customer-centered company model will make your business healthier, with stronger organizational values, and will avert disaster in the future because of customer closeness.

Have you had experiences in which suppliers proactively called you with unexpectedly good news? Please share them with us.

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One Response to “Keeping Customers”

  1. olivier says:

    I love your water story. I am not sure that I would react as you did. When I discover that someone has overcharged me for years I would call, tell him and go to the other supplier. But maybe was the water quality worse !
    Have a great day!

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