Familiarity And Contempt

If you’re looking to buy stuff, it’s a great time to make new friends. For example, there was an offer by my cable provider to those who use another service for cable to be a “triple playcustomer (TV, internet, and VOIP) for $70 a month. Considering that I play more than double that just for TV, it seems like a pretty good deal, right?

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950

Image via Wikipedia

Not for me it isn’t. I’m a current customer and, therefore, not eligible for that rate.  I’m not singling out the cable company – they’re hardly the only firm that makes more attractive business deals available to folks with whom they aren’t currently doing business.  Wireless carriers, financial services (Free stock trades!  Better interest rates!  Shiny toasters!), magazines and others often treat their new flames better than they do those to whom they’ve been “married” for years.  So on this Valentine’s Day, I’m reminded that maybe that familiarity leads to some contempt and maybe divorce?

Think about it – shouldn’t we be treating our current customers – the folks who have made a commitment to us – better than we do those who we don’t even know?   I have no problem using special offers to build business but what are you doing to retain and reward the broader base of folks with whom you’re already  in a business relationship?  I’ve always found it to be easier to get an existing customer to spend more than it is to find new business.  Granted, the incremental revenue might not be as much as a completely new account (adding a premium TV net to your cable package vs. the entirely new monthly fee) but I don’t know that it’s an “either/or” proposition.  If you’re rewarding strangers for trusting you and giving you their business, why not think about a way to do the same thing for those who’ve trusted you for years even if it’s a different offer?  Win/win!

There isn’t enough of a focus on lifetime customer value and too much of a focus on acquisition and near-term revenues.  Many of the “offer sites” such as GroupOn and Living Social have been accused of doing just that – adding quick hits at the expense of the long-term.  I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that I always feel snubbed when the new guy gets a better deal and there’s no loyalty reward for my existing business.

So Happy Valentine’s Day – go give an existing customer a hug!

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