It’s Cheaper to Keep Customers!

It never fails to amaze me how quickly a business or employee is eager to say “no” to a customer request. It may be a lack of training for the employee involved, fear of going outside of their prescribed duties, or worse – laziness. Especially when you consider how many thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours go into attracting new customers.

A great case in point.  My local carwash  sells monthly “memberships”  that allow you to get your car washed as much as you want each month.  If  you’ve got the time, I suppose you could get your car wash twice a day if you like. In my case, I have a dark-colored car and like to get it washed about twice a week. I have this membership for years. Each month paying my monthly fee. Sometimes I make money on the deal, most of the time the carwash wins. At any rate, the carwash gets a steady flow of revenue that they can depend on rain or shine.

At a slight accident in a local parking garage. I took my car in to the body shop to have repairs made and my representative mentioned that I shouldn’t have my car washed and waxed for about a month after it was returned to me. So I dutifully went into the carwash and asked the young lady at the front desk how I would go about switching my membership to my other car, since I wouldn’t be needing a carwash for at least a month. She rummaged around and found a form that was clearly designed for this purpose. I completed the form and handed it back to her and went along my way.

The next day I drove my second car in and the “greeter” writes up the ticket for the carwash  informed me that I was only allowed to make a change to my car once every six months. Something the young lady, nor the form I filled out, made any mention of previously. Now I’m glad this employee knew what the policy was, it would just been nice if someone would’ve mentioned to me before I had affected the change. What’s worse, this isn’t an everyday occurrence. Over the last 10 years that I’ve had the service going on, yes that’s 120 months but I’ve been paying, I’ve never once made a change. Never. So from my perspective, I’m being treated like someone who’s trying to game the system. Prior to this event, I thought I was a valued customer. I’m not feeling somebody right now.

Our discussion escalated to the point that I basically told him I wasn’t willing to pay three times the price of a normal carwash today or going forward. He didn’t really offer any resistance other than to repeat the policy.  I’m not deaf, I just didn’t think it was there. To his credit, he chose to pretty much ignore the policy  and didn’t charge me for an additional carwash.  However at this point I don’t know where I stand. When I get the car back will I have to fight again?

The bottom line is by not training nor empowering employees who deal with the customers, this business has put a good customer at risk. If another company offered me a similar service for similar price, I would seriously consider it. Where’s a week ago it wouldn’t have even been on my radar.

Think about how your employees who deal with your customers understand what that customer’s true value is. Do they really get it? Any manager worth their salt, is focused on continued growth. Happy customers equal more revenue.  Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold, literally.  What kind of a difference could it make to your business model if everyone dealing with the customer understood how valuable you are to your business. Not just the  “keep the customers happy”  slogan  that most businesses like to toss around, but really understanding how much more expensive it is to attract a new customer than to it is to keep one you’ve already got.

This isn’t a problem with small businesses or huge worldwide organizations. I found it to be a problem for more organizations than not, regardless of their size. If each manager who reads this, or for that matter each employee would ask their manager who reads this,  “How much do we spend attracting new customers?”  At the end of the day would be able to answer that question, even if it’s in general terms, they would have a different perspective going forward.


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