Why do companies continue to spend so much money on signing up new customers and pay little to no attention to acquired customers? Existing customers want long term relationships and attention, yet companies insist on focusing their efforts in finding new customers.
Companies are rational, logical, and analytical. Customers are (or they seem to be) irrational, emotional, and conceptual. Companies want proof, measure, and surveys. Customers want to be delighted, feel important, and count. Companies are from Mars, customers are from Venus.
The approach, if you look at it this way, is quite different. A company seeks to be linear and left-brained, even when it talks about relationships. Think about customer relationship management (CRM). When was the last time you tried to manage your relationships at home that way? Did it work?
A customer wants to feel appreciated and loved. Not so much as in “we appreciate your business”, or “how may I help you?” — both of which sound quite empty when not followed up by relevant action. We want to feel the service.
Company Think: Now that I have “x” customers, to grow I need to find more people to buy my services. How do I do that? I offer new low prices to people as an incentive to sign up for the first time. Want an example? I’ve been a member of AAA Plus for fifteen years now and my rates keep going up at a nice steady clip. Yet, every single year, I also receive an offer from the AAA marketing department with a very appealing discount to start a new membership.
Customer Think: I have been loyal to this company for “x” years and used its services on several occasions. Each time I receive the monthly bill or the yearly renewal information, it would be nice if the company recognized my loyalty with a personalized discount (read = appropriate for the services I used), or a nice letter of thanks at a minimum, especially on an anniversary like five, ten, fifteen years. Instead, what do I get? Often it is a request to buy more. To add insult to that, a ‘new customer’ communication that shows me how much less I could spend if I joined today is in my mailbox at renewal time.
In the AAA example, I even sent a nice letter to the President of our local AAA membership organization to offer some advice. Here’s what I wrote:
As a marketing and communications professional, I am constantly amazed at how companies always choose to entice new customers with rewards while increasing premiums for acquired customers. Hundreds of books are published every year on good customer service practices. I’d like to refer you to Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. It is interesting reading.
Hundreds of books, hundreds of blog posts and case studies with tips and requests and still – companies insist on coming from Mars, while their customers are more from Venus.