Preventing the Costly Divorce.

May 19, 2009

Companies that don’t make an effort to keep us faithful – to keep us from straying – have a hard time keeping customers.  And, at the risk of saying something so simple that it sounds insulting, it is far more economical to keep a customer than to get a new one.  Of course, there are some companies that either have a distinct niche product or big heavy switching costs (akin to those of a divorce) that keep the timid or risk averse staying put. 

Maybe not fulfilled—but staying put.

I have coveted an iPhone now for months.  I have watched people I know gracefully touch the screen to bring up photos, enlarge emails so that even my mother could read them—a friend even went as far as to have her iPhone listen to a snippet of a song none of us could identify on someone else’s voicemail and come back with the name and artist.  Impressive.  But, alas, I remain faithful to Verizon sans iPhone.

Why do I reward Verizon by remaining a loyal customer? 

Because, in my opinion, they are doing it right.  Time and time again, among the myriad customer touch points, my experience has been consistently fabulous. They are the company that called me, unsolicited, to inform me that my texting habits were starting to get to the junkie-level and that they could ‘help me out’ with their $5/month all-the-texts-you-can-handle-plan.  And, then to really make me swoon, they retro-actively reimbursed my substance abuse.

The point of all this? 

It’s back to my soap box on the importance of a branding strategy that is unified and consistent.  When we lead a company through our Branding Strategy SpringboardTM, a critical component of the outcome is a unified position and understanding that the customer’s experience must be managed from the first receptionist greeting to the after-sale pillow talk.

It’s not rocket science, but it takes acknowledging the importance of customer service and committing the organization to consistently perform in a particular way. The costs of a misstep could be that one customer – and the chances of a reconciliation….well, you do the math.  

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8 Responses to “Preventing the Costly Divorce.”

  1. Lisa Ikegami Says:

    Three words: you’re a genius.

  2. David Levin Says:

    so, if it’s such a basic concept (which are agree with your point) why aren’t more companies investing in creating a positive experience?

    btw, i feel the same way about

    • David, honestly I think it is because it is a long-term play. You may not see the immediate effects of it – you don’t really notice until someone leaves, right?

  3. Mark Miller Says:

    Come June Verizon will also carry the iPhone – at least so I’m told. Great article. Long-term has always been the most reliable route to take in my book.

  4. Jules Says:

    Wise words! I agree that the real winning – and possibly most costly aspect of customer retention is tracking and predicting the changing needs of your customers – like the call you got from Verizon. I don’t have an issue with the “big brother” aspect of customer analysis if it means that the service provider is going to proactively do something to help you as a result. And isn’t it surprising that the companies on the bleeding edge – like Apple who have great brand attractiveness – are rarely any good at this…

    • Jules, I agree – companies who take the time to understand their customer’s usage patterns and preferences and take the initiative to be pro-active about it truly understand customer service and retention. Thanks for your comment.

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