Is Your Company a Customer Sieve?


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This issue is highlighted in a great new article by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker. The entire article can be found here, but the excerpt that really got my attention is this one:

The real problem may be that companies have a roving eye: they’re always more interested in the customers they don’t have. So they pour money into sales and marketing to lure new customers while giving their existing ones short shrift, in an effort to minimize costs and maximize revenue. . . . Economically, this makes little sense; it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to hold on to an old one, and, these days, annoyed customers are quick to take their business elsewhere. But, because most companies are set up to focus on the first sale rather than on all the ones that might follow, they end up devoting all their energies to courting us, promising wonderful products and excellent service. Then, once they’ve got us, their attention wanders.

You know the story: You give your trust, money, and loyalty to a company only to have them trample on your needs as they beat a path to any potential new customers that might be lurking nearby. Here’s one of my more memorable—and painful—experiences . . .

I was once the client of an outsource call center. During the several weeks I spent on site I frequently worked on the call floor, monitoring and coaching the agents. Throughout these weeks, we (my company) had significant difficulties with the management team. Long story short: my organization was not receiving the resources, attention, and results we’d been promised when signing the contract with the call center.

So imagine my chagrin when one day a manager comes flying onto the call floor, hurriedly instructing the agents to look and sound professional: Sit up straight! Watch your tone of voice! Smile! Why this urgent call for decorum? As the manager frantically advised the agents, “a prospective client is coming in to check out our facility.”

I—a current client desperate to feel valued and respected by the vendor—was standing right there! At the time, I laughed. At the conclusion of the contract, I took my business elsewhere.

You probably have similar tales of woe from your own experiences as a customer. Care to share? More importantly, what solutions do you propose?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vasudha Deming
Vasudha Deming is a consultant and author lucky enough to get paid for doing something she loves: helping businesses to thrive by putting values into action. She also organizes athletic races, service projects, community events, and anything else she can get her hands on. When it all gets too stressful, she heads out the door for a long-distance run.


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