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HomemilastwordThe Last Word: The Despicable Customers

The Last Word: The Despicable Customers

I’m on LinkedIn. Why? I’m not really sure, except that, like most people, I seem to be just ‘collecting people’. If you’re looking for an employee, or you want to jump ship, LinkedIn is ideal, but, as a small business owner, the uses are limited. That is, unless you’re part of a discussion group, then you’ll receive the occasional pearl in your spam.

Case in point was an email I received recently from Robert Fleming, CEO of the eMarketing Association, entitled ‘The Despicable Customers’. The heading caught my attention but the content caused me to do a double take.Fleming wrote: “Why do so many companies show an utter contempt for their customers? Think about emails that state ‘do not reply to this email, this address is not monitored’ (translation – we don’t really care about you nor do we want a dialog with you, so don’t contact us)”.

He’s spot on. Companies that send these emails have a fantastic opportunity to engage with current customers. Instead they spend millions trying desperately to find new ones.

Fleming then goes on to talk about those utterly frustrating phone scrabble games: “Press one for this, two for that, enter your account number, the name of your first born, your address, then proceed to the next automated button pushing, defective voice recognition, time wasting marathon. If you are lucky, maybe finally, you will actually be able to talk to a person, and repeat to them all the information you already entered. Lucky you. Another sunken, ruined opportunity to engage, and strengthen a relationship with the person that pays their salary, you, their customer,” he says.

Why do so many companies show an utter contempt for their customers?

To top it off, that same company will ask you to ‘Like us on Facebook’. Why would you?!

Fleming’s solution? “Take 10 per cent of the marketing budget they use for acquisition and add it to a ‘customer retention budget’.” What, you don’t have a ‘customer retention budget’? You’re not alone… yet the risk is that if you treat customers like they’re a disruption to your daily routine, you really won’t need a budget… ever!

Many experts pontificate about how to ‘get a sale’. What they don’t tell you is how to keep that customer and convert that relationship into a loyal long-term customer relationship. The first sale is just one step in maintaining and managing your patient / customer expectations for the long-term.

As Fleming says, “for just a moment, stop thinking, working, strategising about new customers, and instead, think about the experience you offer to your current customers”.

Walk around your practice in your customers’ shoes and see what they experience from their side of the counter. It will help you to develop more of an understanding of their needs and how you can connect with them more effectively.

Do this and your customers won’t move to another optical retailer just because they offer cheaper prices.


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