Let’s Not Forget … The Customer Is King!

In a meeting recently, a client expressed their frustration with a service provider. In fact, that appears to be a misnomer as there was no concept of service in what this provider was, or more accurately was not, providing.

The provider is a website design company and my point is not to name and shame (however tempting it might be!) but rather to recognise the importance of customer service as part of building effective and profitable relationships.

This provider made 4 key errors:
1. Failed to consider the position of the customer in the network
This particular client is really quite influential but even if they weren’t obviously so, their ability to influence the choices of others is vital in building a strong brand. We all need our customers to recommend us, to recognise the value in what we offer and deliver, because word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. And it works both ways. The client is now actively recommending alternative providers….

2. Not considering the lifetime value
This provider has a short-term focus on profit that will only be beneficial in the immediate future. Every customer has a lifetime value, that is the total that they might spend with a given business in their lifetime. Over that period this could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not more but this provider is sacrificing this lifetime value for £80 now. This means that they will have to find hundreds of £80 customers when they could have had one significant customer so they will end up spending more on their marketing budget and spend more time getting to know each of those new customers.

3. Ignoring comparison to competitor offer
Whilst this provider is focused on pricing, other providers are focusing on quality of offer. It is a competitive marketplace and none of us can afford to simply be transactional. It’s all about the actual provision and the relationship. Our customers can pick and choose where they go and who they use so we should all be working to become the provider of choice. If we ignore what our competitors are doing, we are potentially ignoring our customer’s interests and they will leave us behind…

4. Going out of their way to make it difficult
This provider has locked down the service that was provided so that only they can do anything with it. The client has no access to documentation and can no longer self manage the website because the provider has put blocks in their way, closed down the portal or changed the passwords. A defensive strategy that has served no purpose other than to annoy the client and highlight their lack of confidence in their services.

Being defensive and protectionist gets us nowhere in any context. This provider has also started to try to deflect all responsibility for the escalating costs to the client saying it is her fault! In this case, for the sake of considering it all from the customer perspective, this company has lost credibility and clients. The customer is king after all!

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky

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