Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Drive Your Customers Away

It seems some businesses work very hard to drive away customers, and it makes me wonder what is going on at the decision level. When customers leave, it's hard to get them back, and if they're unhappy, they're going to tell others, so the business loses even more. And yet, businesses often act as if they don't care. Then when they go bankrupt, they have no idea why.

One prime example is the recent demise of the large national car companies. For years they pumped out vehicles that gave them a large profit margin on a unit basis, but ignored the needs of the population at large, who demanded a different type of vehicle: safe, economical, durable. As long as they were making a profit, they were happy, but one day they were shocked to find they were losing money and had no way to stop it. Yes, there were a number of other factors, but their refusal to listen to their customers was a big reason they went downhill.

Our regional paper seems determined to go out of business as quickly as possible. They've been in trouble financially, so what did they come up with? A massive rate hike for the loyal subscribers! When I saw their price hike, I told them to take a hike, and let them know via online comments how dumb that decision was. I'm one of the people who thinks newspapers are important, and have been a subscriber for many years. But in tough economic times, some things become a needless expense. Their new rate was not worth it, so I cut my weekly delivery. I predict they won't last too long, but then again, that may be the plan of the people in charge. Either that, or they're terrible at business.

Our daughter took martial arts locally, and we knew the folks in charge. We've had a good relationship with them, and have provided some extra services and clients. Recently, they sent two emails: one saying we bounced a check to them (we hadn't) and the other was that they wanted a big payment. Now we understand there's a recession, and if money is tight, you may need to make changes. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. Rather than take us aside on any of the days we attended, they sent emails, which sounded a bit rude. Rather than take five minutes and communicate on a human level, they brusquely told us via messages to pay up or leave. Guess what they get? Nothing. Guess what we'll tell everyone in town? Don't go there. We've gone from promoters of their business to more unhappy customers, and that will cost them future business. We know of other people who became unhappy with them, and left as well.

Treat your customers well, and they'll remain loyal, and bring in more business. When they have a problem, work with them to fix it, treat them like they matter. Treat them like they don't matter, and you'll find yourself closing your doors someday. It's even more important to treat them well when times are tough. We, and many others, don't give our money to businesses that treat us badly. Sound business advice for tough times.

1 comment:

  1. I see tis true you love to rant! So sry to hear about the martial arts class. I seem to remember she liked it. (Ben finally gave up on Aikido - no fun forcing an 18-yr-old to do stuff).

    - Scott S