Monday, September 14, 2015

Celebrating New Customers

(cross-posted on LinkedIn)

Much has been said about enticing prospective new customers with deals you wouldn't give your existing customers. (The courtship is over, no need to keep wooing.) The unfairness of it all. Fine. No need to revisit that, then.

But I got this in the mail the other day and it made me think about the other side of the deal. The courtship is over. I've said yes. Now what?

Recently jumped to the other side of the local telecommunications duopoly. To hear them tell it, they've changed their ways. They may be one of the most hated companies in one of the most hated fields, but according to them, they've recognized the error of their ways and have been trying to be better.

To their credit, the installation window was short, the installer early (calling ahead first to make sure early was OK), they were friendly, personable and showed no outward signs of annoyance when they realized they had to run a new line from the street when we discovered I had severed the existing line. Same of the different telephone support I worked with in the U.S. and Philippines, personable, friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. Upsell attempts for additional projects weren't pushing or overbearing.

So I was actually quite pleased to receive an envelope marked "Inside: Something just for you from [brand]." (Yes, it's clear what brand this is, but this isn't a post about this brand, it's a post about what happens after the deal is done.)

What could it be? A thank you post-card showing a bunch of happy employees smiling and waving? Maybe a surprise $10 gift certificate to a local restaurant*? Maybe a discount off of a future bill? A free limited-time upgrade? A little 2016 wall calendar with some nice nature pictures and their logo**? A special customer service number? A survey?

Sadly, it was none of these. Instead, it was a list of additional products I could buy. We had just completed a transaction in which both parties had satisfactorally agreed on the terms: I want this product you offer and am willing to pay the price you have asked. I have endured your upsells during sign-up because you've been pleasant enough and I know that you have to ask. I get it. That's fair. But I was quite clear on what I wanted, and was even willing to give you reasons why your other offerings weren't for me.

But the ink is barely dry and now you're coming at me for more money? I'm not even sure how it was "just for me" unless it didn't include the one item I already purchased, but I didn't get that far, dropping it instead in the recycle bin thinking "same old, same old." Because if you had listened while you were courting, then you would have known not to send that.

What are you doing with your new customers? Your customer always has a choice. Today, they made a great choice and chose you. Affirm that decision and continue the courtship to make sure that they continue to choose you. Surprise, delight, be excellent. Be the company your customers and employees can't stop gushing about.

So, let's think specifically about Xfinity or Comcast (seriously guys, what are you called? I'm so confused.) - can you imagine someone saying "You have Comcast, too? Aren't they awesome!" and high-fiving?

Or Tweeting about being excited to have an appointment scheduled for new service?

Or running out and putting a Comcast bumper sticker on their car?

Or standing in line outside the store to buy the latest router?

You might be thinking "It could never happen in a million years." I don't believe that's true. I believe that if they wanted to, Comcast could be adored by its customers, loved by its employees, admired by its suppliers, contractors and competitors. I believe books could be written about the transformation.

You probably snorted derisively, but if you think about it, you'd probably begrudgingly admit that it is possible, but that you don't believe that the leadership of Comcast would ever bother.

But if it's possible for Comcast, then it's possible for your business. And undoubtedly much easier. So... what are you doing to affirm the great choice your customer has made?

*Pro-tip: Getting your customers to do business with each other is a great retention and word-of-mouth strategy.

** Pro-tip: For our house and home-office, there will always be a use for a small calendar that we can pin to a bulletin board or attach to a magnetic surface.
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