Don’t assume lazy means loyal when customers stick around

March 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Sally Saville Hodge

I’m the kind of customer that businesses love: I never seem to be able to find the time to seek out a better deal. So I stick around. For a while, at least.

Please don’t think less of me for it. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I have a lot of stuff on my plate and the last thing I want to do is get on the phone and wrangle with customer service folks for a better deal. But I’m not the loyal customer they may think I am. I’m just a lazy one. And it’s loyal customers that ultimately make or break a brand.

All I’m hurting, I know, is my own pocketbook. But still. At its root is a deep-seated irritation with those companies that can’t see all the implications of the “your next best customer is the one you already have” credo. That means you make them happy. You study your relationship with them. And you anticipate their needs. Anticipate is, of course, the operative word.

Why do I have to go to them to beg for a better deal? Why are the bargains geared to new customers? Do they expect me to have loyalty to them when they don’t have any to me?

The whole customer relationship thing is a two-sided coin, of course. In “The Bad Table,” Seth Godin comments on its other side. As a new patron to a hot new restaurant, he and his group were given the worst seats in the house even though the place was only a third full. So, he asks, who gets your best effort? The newbie who might be converted into a loyal follower? Or customers who have already attained that status?

Marketers are challenged to master the balancing act between the dual mandates for volume (short-term growth) and quality (the kinds of loyal customers that drive sustained growth). By and large, I don’t think they do a terrific job at it.

Here’s the deal. Ultimately, as Godin puts it: “You can’t have a bad table.



Entry filed under: Marketing Strategy, Missteps.

What’s to love about hating Sarah Marshall Electronic communications (r)evolution

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