It’s much more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to keep an existing one and to persuade that existing customer to spend more money, buy more products or buy more often.
And a perfect example of that expense is the typical Black Friday deal. It’s very often a loss-leader to pull me in. Once I get to know you, like you and trust you, I’ll stay and you’ll have me as a long-term customer.
Worth it? Definitely.
But there is one factor in the marketing equation that gets forgotten. Your current customers.
Let me tell you about my less-than-happy interaction yesterday with the customer service department of my online backup service supplier.
I pay $12 each month to back up my computer somewhere out there in the cloud. Don’t ask me where, I don’t have a clue. But my data is backed up automatically and I rejoice in the lessened stress that this knowledge brings.
Yesterday I noticed that this company was offering an excellent deal for new customers. Instead of paying $144 yearly, I would have to pay only $28 for the first year if I joined as a new customer.
That’s a spectacular deal. Excellent marketing if your aim is to bring new buyers on board.
However there’s a serious downside to this offer.
It incurred the wrath of existing customers like me.
I’ve been loyal. I’ve even recommended you. So why are you making me feel like you don’t care about me in the least? Fine – don’t give me the best deal.. but offer me something. Anything. A token of your appreciation.
There was nothing. Nada. Zip.
So I was incensed enough to contact Customer Service for this company. Below is a screenshot of the first part of the exchange between us. I have erased out identifying details. I have also added an arrow so you can see the little smiley face the customer service rep added as he was happily ignoring my feelings.
Honestly, that little smiley incensed me – just like a red flag to a bull. You’re not validating my position, you don’t care about me and what’s more you’re laughing at me. That’s what went through my head when I saw that happy little face.
I know about marketing. I know about the need to generate new leads and get new business. That’s fine. But please, don’t alienate me in the process.
So my exchange with the hapless customer service rep continued. He held his ground. I held mine.
Eventually I wore him down and he offered me three free months of online backup as a special offer. Three whole months.
Nice. But that still left me with a difference of $108 dollars.
And then I had a brainwave. Was my husband eligible for the deal, I asked. I didn’t want to do anything underhand – that’s just not my style. So I asked the question openly. Could he pay for the deal and then back up our computers on his account?
Indeed he could. But getting that information was like getting blood out of a stone.
So then I asked the next obvious question. If my husband was eligible for the deal, could they not just give me the deal instead and save me the time and trouble of uploading my files via his new account and then deleting my account?
This time there was no discussion at all. The answer was a sharp NO. One word. No.
Into that single word I inferred a whole story of my own making: No we cannot help you. No we cannot save you time. No we cannot save you the headache.
How’s that for friendly and caring customer support?
So my husband bought the deal and we are slowly transferring over my files to his account.
I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth. You incurred the Wrath of Debbie.
And I am not the only one. The Facebook page of this online backup company is littered with comments from unhappy existing customers. Why were we offered nothing at all for our loyalty? Why were we treated with such disdain? That may not have been the intention of the company, but that’s how it felt – and the extra smiley at the end of my interaction with the customer service rep did nothing to dispel that feeling.
Oh – and one more thing. If you’re trying to do damage control, make sure it’s a consistent offer. Perhaps I was a better fighter for my cause, I don’t know, but I was offered three months free service while people writing on the company Facebook page mentioned the consolation prize of just two months. I wonder how they would feel if they found out that they weren’t even worth an extra month.
Let the lesson be learned. Don’t focus only on attracting new customers. Keep your existing buyers happy too.
I am so glad that you took a stand. It was incredibly short-sighted of them to not consider their existing customers and offer them a special deal for being loyal.
That smiley face would have riled me too. Sadly good customer service is very hard to find these days.
I play the Direct TV vs Dish Network game every two years for this very reason.
I changed hosting providers at black friday to get the 75% off deals as well – no use paying more if you can get a better lifetime deal.
Even big stores know the value of keeping customers with sales and giving you the difference if it goes on sale within 30 days.
Makes no sense to me…