It costs businesses significantly more to acquire new customers than it does to retain them, and most successful businesses understand the importance of maintaining customer relationships. Lately, however, it seems like some companies have gotten lazy about retaining my business.
For example, my husband and I recently refinanced our mortgage with another bank. Anyone who has done this knows that the process is lengthy and involves the bank that holds your current mortgage in many of the steps. The firm was well aware that we were moving our loan to another bank and had plenty of opportunities to reach out via a phone call, email, or even the U.S. mail to ask us to stay and offer a better deal than the one our new mortgage provider offered. Instead the company sat quietly by, only mailing us payoff statements.
The funny thing was, after the mortgage switched hands, we immediately started receiving letters in the mail from the previous lender, enticing us with offers to return. But it was too little, too late.
In another example of lazy customer retention, or maybe it's a case of not being connected to the customer database, is my grocery store. When I grocery shop, I tend to buy only fresh produce and meats, which means I visit the store a few times per week. Recently, we started purchasing from a grocery chain that offers fresh produce that is less expensive than the chain that we've been loyal to for years and is located literally right next door to the other store.
Because I swipe my "loyalty" card every single time I check out at the store at which I've been loyal to for years, why hasn't this company noticed that my business has been lacking lately? Why haven't they sent me a "We miss you" mailer with coupons for products that pertain to my buying history? Needless to say, I'm not impressed.
These two experiences have made me wonder how many commodity type businesses are assuming their customers will be around forever because they're selling a staple or offering a service that may be unwieldy to cancel, and as a result, they've become lazy about maintaining any type of customer outreach efforts.
Today, Don Peppers blogged on Fast Company's site about the reasons why customers don't try trust companies. He said that trusting someone else depends on how you perceive both their intentions and their competence. Do they respect your interest (good intentions)? And do they have the competence to carry out these intentions?
These two companies have let me sneak out the back door without even a farewell or "we'll miss you." They did not respect my interests nor did they have any competence in regard to retaining my business. They took my business for granted and as a result, will most likely not be able to compete in the long term.
Don't get lazy with your customers. Reach out and show them that you appreciate their business. It will pay off the next time they're enticed by one of your competitors.