Treat Your Best Customers Like They Were Your Mom

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Treat Your Best Customers Like They Were Your Mom

I recently cancelled an online service. It was a monthly subscription. A great service. It’s just that my needs had changed and I no longer needed it. I might have in the future, though, and figured I’d go back to it “if and when.”

After checking the box that cancelled the service, I was pushed to a page that made me a “one-time” offer.

Re-activate my subscription immediately and I could lock in a monthly price that was less than what I’d been paying. The same screen also told me this was a one time offer that would go away and never come back once I clicked away from the screen.

I was confused. Why would this solid company with a good product treat a departing customer better than a loyal user?

The same strategy is used by phone service and credit-card companies. You call up to cancel and they say, “oh wait a minute, will you stay if we lower your rate?” The tactic was so well known that many people would call automatically after a few months of usage and claim they were going to cancel simply as a vehicle to ensure they were getting the best rates available.

Note to businesses of all sizes, when you do things like this and what you are doing becomes public, it can make people question your intentions and make your loyal customers feel unappreciated.

Treat your best customers the way you’d want someone else to treat your mom (making some assumptions here, lol).

Give them the best you have to offer once they’ve demonstrated their loyalty, without having to threaten departure.

Instead of offering a 20% discount to a customer who threatens to leave after a year, offer a surprise 20% reduction to a customer who’s been with you for a year. Talk about fueling word of mouth expansion. Do that and you’ll create an army of super fans and evangelists who’ll pre-sell everyone they meet with a killer story about the company who did them right and they’ll stay with you forever.

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55 responses

55 Responses to “Treat Your Best Customers Like They Were Your Mom”

  1. Gabra Zackman says:

    Great post! ESP at this time of year… I am seeing things like this all over!!

    • Raj Mann, LO says:

      I agree with this article. I hate it when they offer a better deal when I am leaving-obviously if they offered the deal to me while I was their good customer I would be more inclined to stay. Morever, there is a reason I am cancelling and when I see an offer like that I feel like asking for the discount to be applied for all the years or months that I have been a customer!

  2. Oh, how I love this post.

    Brings me back to 2005 or so – the only year I’ve been without DirecTV in the last decade or so. Our expensive receiver with DVR had dies and they wanted me to spend $400 to replace it. But new customers would receive the very same box for free with a new one year subscription.

    It’s a well know marketing maxim that it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to maintain an existing one, especially with the aforementioned subscription model.

    But companies never consider that treating existing customers well might very well be the path to GAINING new customers – and might in fact be cheaper than other marketing activities due to strong word of mouth and positive sentiment about the brand.

    • Tim Brownson says:

      precisely, although I think some companies do now get that. Zappos for sure and just recently I have received brilliant service from Apple. After a screw up by a phone techie guy that cost me a load of wasted time they sent my a $150 iPod by way of apology.

  3. Tim Brownson says:

    Mate I couldn’t agree more.

    I’ve been with Directv for 6 years. Every year around August I phone in to say the nfl Sundau ticket is too expensive and I’m moving to cable. And every year they do me an amazing offer. This year I got ST for 60% discount and they gave me all the movie channels free for 3 months.

    Of course I share this info with fellow Rams fans (we should actually be paid to watch the Rams but that’s another story!) and they then all do the same. Net result is er all think Directv suck and if they ever lose the NFL they’re in big trouble.

  4. Jean Bevanmarquez says:

    AMEN!

  5. Marilyn Taillon says:

    Thinking seriously of writing you in as a presidential candidate.

  6. Anthony says:

    I especially like the last paragraph, great idea.

  7. Mikeachim says:

    Agreed. I’ve worked in a few companies that had Retention departments that openly employed strategies like this. And it’s really obvious when it’s happening, too. The people doing it to you on the phone, they act like you don’t know – but it’s painfully obvious. You’re being talked to by someone who is tasked with making you stay, not addressing the reason you’re leaving. Sad.

    …and yet, does it work or not? I agree, it’s tacky and disrespectful and old-school, but it’s one of those tacky, disrespectful, old-school practices that endures. Is that because there is hard evidence that it works? I’d really like to see exactly how retention figures stack up when such tactics are used. My gut says they’re nowhere near as effective as improving the experience of existing customers, as you say – but the way to hammer that home into the people championing these crummy tactics is with figures.

    • Lisa Young says:

      My sister worked in Retention at AOL for a few years. She would have people that called back every couple of months to “cancel” their service because they knew they’d get a “one time courtesy waiver” that would let them have free service for 3-6 more months. In fact, many of her retention team members would tell folks “just call back in a few months and we’ll set you up again.”

      Well, it’s not sustainable. My sister finally jumped ship to another company just before AOL tanked and laid off an armload of retention specialists. And we’re seeing it in the cable industry right now where I live.

      It makes better sense to do exactly as you describe, Jonathan: reward the long-term customers with a big fat thank-you surprise and watch the smiles and loyalty accrue. It’s one of the reasons I’m dropping my free opt-ins next year in favor of completely free (no opt-in required), and low-barrier paid options. It culls the freebie seekers, and lets me build a more sustainable business.

      I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far, it looks promising. :-)

  8. Mike Turner says:

    Jonathan,

    With all due respect, you could not be more naive and more wrong! I can only assume you have never run a business, made a payroll or attempted to balance the cost of goods sold against total sales. In other words, you do not know the first thing about free market capitalism.

    I have no idea what service with which you refer and it doesn’t matter. The facts though, are the same for any/all for-profit businesses. First of all, it costs a lot more money to obtain a customer than to keep a customer. The offer you were made was, I am sure, directly tied to the company’s net cost to obtain a new customer. They offerred you an amount that was based on the company’s expected cost to obtain a new customer. It was nothing personal… it was just good business. They had lost you as a customer. Now, in the mind of the business, they are going to try to acquire you as a customer (again… this is not personal) and they are willing to pay you their cost of marketing. This is a good deal for you and a reasonable expenditure for the company for customer acquisitionl. If you do not want the service for the lower price, then that is fine. The company’s marketing effort did not work with you. The company learns from this encounter and may or may not adjust their offer to leaving customers in the future. If the offer makes the customer less likely to buy then that marketing effort will be changed if the company wants to continue to salvage customers who are cancelling their subscription.

    Keep this in mind… They know you are the right profile and that you have liked the service. Their hope is that it will cost them less to keep you than to replace you. It is just simple math.

    As for the naive assumption that the company should have reduced all their existing customer’s monthly subscription rate by 20%… again, you must not have any experience in running a business. The key to success in business is to offer the best service for the highest price that the market will bear. If the market rate, which is set by the customer base, is less than the company charges, the company will either have to lower its price or increase the benefits of the product sufficiently to obtain a premium price from the customer. Some companies have pricing power (ability to raise prices) and some do not.

    To think that the company should “reward” their customers with a discount that is not market driven is silly to the extreme. Companies are in business to minimize the cost of producing a good or service and then to charge the maximum price that the market will bear. This is capitalism. Name a company that is truly profit driven that sells its products for less than the market will pay and I submit to you that the company is poorly managed.

    Companies are NOT in business to “reward” their customers with lower prices unless that reward (the marketing cost) is designed to create more business and more bottom line profit.

    Again… not knowing you and not knowing anything about your background… I may be making assumptions about you that are not justified, but from the article you wrote, you cannot be more off the mark, more uninformed and more childish in your rant.

    Anyone who has the experience of running a lemonade stand knows the principle of supply-and-demand, cost of goods sold, marketing costs and pricing power. Try it out… You may not be so quick to (mis) judge the next company that wants to keep you as a customer.

    • Tim Brownson says:

      You’ve just made his point for him.

      “First of all, it costs a lot more money to obtain a customer than to keep a customer.”

      Between 5 and 9 times as much depending on the industry. Yet still companies spend millions attracting new clients and accepting that their current clients will walk away (this is most obvious with cell phone carriers).

      Do the math on that, and ask yourself what would happen if they halved their advertising budget and spent the other half on customer retention with special offers for loyal long standing customers?

      They have it completely the wrong way round, but are too entrenched in their ways and fearful to change.

      New companies like Zappos are changing the model. They pour massive effort into retaining customers by offering above and beyond service.

      Social media and the ability to spread the word about poor (and great) service will and is changing things as anybody with more than a few hundred Twitter followers who has complained via a Tweet will testify to.

      And it really made me laugh that you kicked off by saying “with all due respect” and then ended by calling him childish and his post a rant. What’s respectful about that?

      A rant it was not, he didn’t even name the company much to my chagrin. If you want to see ranting mate get yourself over to my site cuz I love to rant ;-)

      • Reply to Tim. I like what you said. And, I have had experiences with a few companies that reward their on-going customers (for example, on-line cosmetic companies, another example, Macy’s, who gives customers what they actually call “Rewards” in the form of cash vouchers for having shopped a certain amount in their store). It works.

    • Sheila says:

      Very good points. I think the answer may be somewhere in the middle.

      What if the customer service person had said something like this…”Listen, you’ve been with us for “x” years and we appreciate your business. Getting new customers, as you probably know, is expensive and unpredictable. So, we value doing business with the ones we have. As a company we can’t afford to do an across the board discount to all of our customers, but we would like to offer you a 20% discount if that would make a difference in you staying with us or leaving.”

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Love the conversation, gang, which is always the point.

      It’s not about giving 20% discounts to longstanding customers, focusing on that is a bit of a red herring. Whether that works versus 10% or 5% or reversing the prime to offer a set of perks and bene’s instead is simply a matter of analyzing metrics (reduction in customer acquisition costs, increase in conversion ratio from pre-sold/referred prospects versus cold prospects vs reduction in net revenue/increase in expense due to cost of whatever perk is offered).

      The bigger idea is about how you choose to treat people and grow a business. I’ve founded, grown and sold two companies doing things like this and I’ve run variations of these metrics (sometimes, the data is difficult to cull, but worth the effort). Beyond this approach being highly-effective (read as profitable), at least from my standpoint, it’s also just a much more enjoyable and respectful way to run a business and treat a community.

      Making the greatest amount of money possible from a customer or transaction has never been a core motivator for me. It’s one factor in my business success equation, but it’s not the determining factor. And it’s often second to a broader notion of service, respect and impact. Keeping this focus, I’ve been able to build very successful businesses along the way. That approach to business is not for everyone, but it’s how I operate.

      And, “with all due respect” to all, thanks so much for the conversation…and for keeping it respectful.

      • Mike CJ says:

        Mark, I know others have answered in a similar vein, but I want to reiterate that you’re the one missing the point here.

        The frustration, which I’ve shared for years, is that too many companies are willing to invest massive sums in trying to get new customers, but they won’t invest money in retaining existing customers until we tell them we’re walking. How many businesses do you see offering fantastic deals to new customers in the cable TV, insurance, credit card and cellphone markets? How does that make you feel as a loyal existing customer? Your choice is to grin and bear it, or waste a load of time moving your accounts every year to take advantage on the offers.

        The whole thing is self feeding – everyone is trying so hard to steal new clients and putting all their marketing effort in that direction that existing clients are ignored.

      • Jodi Kaplan says:

        Exactly! It’s not about the discount (or the bonus or the gift, or whatever) – it’s about the delight. Give your loyal customers something that will make them happy (and that they weren’t expecting). Worth far more than trying to retain them when they’re ready to jump ship.

    • Linda E says:

      Thanks, Jonathan for saying what we’ve all thought when we’ve had this experience. I call Time Warner every other year when my rates go up & they give me another 2-year deal…talk about a company that could cut half their advertising budget (& still be over-advertised!) and use part of that savings to lower their rates–that alone would prevent customers from leaving to get a lower price elsewhere.

      Mike Turner: Wow–really uncalled for. As Jonathan showed in his reply to your post, you can politely disagree without calling the other person naive, silly, uninformed and childish for stating his opinion. This is exactly the kind of disrespect Jonathan referred to in his post. A less antagonistic response would make people more likely to consider the points you made, some of which were valid.

      For example, one thing I do agree with from Mike’s comment is that making a “surprise deduction” in loyal customers’ rates would be counterproductive. However, Jonathan is on the right track, in that companies should invest in rewarding loyal customers–they just need to find a way to do so w/o hurting their own bottom line. There are a lot of creative ways companies do this. Offer customers a reward or discount for referring new customers (Ebates does this well), or tell potential customers in advance that spending a certain amount (e.g. Kohls department store’s “MVC” program or mutual fund breakpoints) or remaining a customer for a certain length of time (e.g. American Family’s loyalty discount) will result in some kind of special discount, service or reward. Heck, even free shipping for loyal e-customers is something. These methods help to get new customers, retain current customers and increase repeat business. I know they have all worked on me!

    • Dave Doolin says:

      “It was nothing personal… it was just good business.”

      Actually, it was personal from Jonathan’s point of view, which is the point of the article.

      Whether it’s good business or not isn’t a claim you can support. It might well be very bad business. Unless you’re the CFO of the company in question, it’s not possible to know either way.

  9. Randy says:

    Great advice for employers too: How about taking initiative to proactively reward good workers.

    Years ago I accepted a new job offer which came with a $1,000/month raise. When I informed my current company, they responded with “We’ll match that.” My reply was, “So yesterday I was worth X to you, and today I’m worth Y?”

    They just shrugged. I get it, businesses need to manage expenditures to be profitable. But is a few grand worth it to loose your top talent, and then have to pay to start the retooling all over again? So short sighted.

    I’m sure you’ll be shocked to discover the company went out of business.

  10. Owen Marcus says:

    I understand wanting to keep customers… but to bribe with money sucks. Plus you reinforce getting customers that shop for price not quality.

    Why not offer a fun and enticing story that has customer feel – I don’t want to leave these guys, they’re fun.

  11. Giovanna says:

    Happened to me once too… it´s really a ‘ick’ feeling…

  12. Sarah Shah says:

    Great post Jonathan! I had the same experience with ATT Uverse…they gave me a great “bundle” rate when I first got the service, but that rate expires after a year and the rates go up 20% ever after. I would get a better rate to cancel and then come back than I would for remaining a loyal customer…I love the service, but now I feel like a schmuck for staying with them. The service isn’t so sweet with that bitter pill!

  13. Sheila says:

    In my Depression Era parents’ generation there was a lot of costumer loyalty based on quality and value. In the 1990s companies were busy getting “lean and mean” (emphasis on mean). There had been several crops of newly minted MBAs who had a “new” business model which dictated that everything be ruthlessly measured by the bottom line. Long term planning pretty much stopped at 6mths to 1 year. Business became a predator and customers the prey. This bred a different costumer too.

    Right now BofA’s reputation is in the ditch with share prices around $5 and depositers jumping ship in droves. They could turn it all around in just a few months if they helped their costumers stay in their homes by modifying mortgages instead of taking them back and bulldozing them or selling them for under market value. How much customer loyalty do you think THAT would build. How many NEW costumers would that kind of service attract/! We may never know.

  14. Really good post Jonathan. Unfortunately, it’s the forces of light against the forces of darkness here. And greed rules the roost.

    Thanks for shining the light into the darkness.

    :-)

  15. I cancelled a (personal) GTW account recently. I got the pop-up with a one-time offer to save 10 – 20%. I remember thinking, “well that sucks, so I HAVE been over-paying for this service all those months?” I clicked “no” and navigated away. Then I got an email from them a short while later with another one-time offer to pay something like $60/month (instead of $99) – or something like that, I can’t remember the exact figures. Again, I couldn’t help but think “damn, that *really* sucks. You mean I’ve been over-paying this whole damn time?”

    For me, the reduced price didn’t make me feel good. It made me feel like the whole time I was a customer, I was over-paying.

    I love GTM & GTW. I used them for work (we have several accounts with them). I cancelled my personal account with them because I just didn’t need it anymore. I get the tactic, and yeah, I can see how it works. But for me personally, it did kind of leave a bad taste.

  16. Ronda Wada says:

    I am totally with you, Jonathan! I recently called to cancel my Tivo service. I had been a subscriber for nearly 7 years but hadn’t turned it on once in over 6 months. By the time I hung up they had reduced my monthly fee by 50% with no expiration. Really?! Where is the honoring of me as a loyal customer BEFORE I am ready to depart?

  17. Brad Smith says:

    How about directing you to a page that says,

    “How can we make our product better?”

    Finding the real reasons people leave or abandon your product, gives you the opportunity to make it better.

    So instead of trying last-ditch tactics like this, you can learn something, improve your product, and increase the LTV of the rest of your current customers.

  18. Andy Castro says:

    I’ve experienced this also
    and I hated the thought that
    I’d been paying to much for this
    service.
    It is a disrespectful way to treat
    a customer. It’s a low rate mindset
    and a loser mentality. I’ll give you
    my best only if you threaten to
    leave. I wonder if these decision
    makers treat their friends and
    family like this?
    Good post!

  19. My years of online dating taught me to cancel my account in order to get a discount on re-upping.

    And believe me, I had no sense of loyalty to the corporations behind those dating sites.

    I’m glad you brought this up, Jonathan. These are just the kinds of questions that those of us invested in making impact and building relationships as much making a buck need to give thoughtful consideration to.

    How *can* we best reward our loyal customers, in a way that grows and sustains a healthy business? How *can* we invite new customers in the same way?

    Here’s another one that can backfire: a lot of online entrepreneurs out there are offering “pay what you will” and other steep discounts, sometimes not long *after* they’ve already launched their expensive product.

    On the surface, it’s a cool idea, and seems very welcoming, But as a paying customer, I felt cheated. Of course if I had known they were going to run a “pay what you will” offer, I never would have paid the money.

    It didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

    There are lots of tactics that *work*, but don’t feel good. (In fact, I’m in the business I am now partly because I followed “the experts” and it felt yucky, which led to a personal crisis and a major life shift!)

    Keep the conversation going! This is fantastic stuff to ponder.

  20. John Sherry says:

    God, have I been waiting for somebody to flag this up major time. Loyalty doesn’t exist these days it seems in the corporate world with businesses offering new customers the best deals and not those who have stayed with them for years and years. It stinks and we shouldn’t put up with it. Time for a Loyalty Charter or some campaign to bring back rewards for being a good customer and friend. Those that don’t respect that don’t deserve our business or to be in one!

  21. Jonathan Fields says:

    Quick addition to this conversation.

    If you want to see how one of the largest, most successful restaurant groups in the world has been built on what some might consider a near-irrational emphasis on consistently blowing existing customers away, check out Danny Meyer’s book – Setting the Table.

  22. Aaron says:

    Jonathan:

    This is a great post which I can certainly relate to. I’ll give you two examples of what I mean:

    A) I recently ended a subscription with a certain publicly traded investment research company after I had an ongoing problem with one of their web based tools to screen stocks that they failed to resolve. Their fund data was sufficient for my needs but their stock screener tool was what made the premium subscription worth the money until it no longer worked for me and thus, no longer met my needs.

    Fast forward to a month ago, where I clicked on the company’s web site and, with my free account, checked some data on a few mutual funds offered by my 401k. Lo and behold, when I checked the on the company’s premium service price, which rose from the last time I purchased the service, the web site then gave me a pop-up window with a lower than advertised price if I clikced thru and signed up right then and there. Crazy! I’ll never do business with this company again if I can help it and am searching their competition also.

    B) There is a company which I use for fantasy football and they offer a premium service for picking players and making drafts. Their service, while not always 100% right, is good enough to get me winning games better than 50% of the time, much to my competitor’s chagrin! Just this year, they offered a HUGE discount to me on their premium service because I’ve been with them for so long, which is going on 5 years now. I could go with other companies but I chose not to only because this company really does treat me
    like someone they care about and I am glad to give them my business, even if they’re not always right.

    Your post hopefuly will go a long way when getting businesses to understand that customers are not morons or marks but rather clients to cultivate loyalty. Thanks much for sharing this.

  23. [...] fall into one, particularly if you focus on the tactics as opposed to the strategy. Here’s a great example from Jonathan Fields about companies telling us of a “special offer” right after we decide to cancel their [...]

  24. Annie Andre says:

    YUCK is right. I have this love hate relationship with Citibank credit cards. Every few months they jack up my interest rate to 21%. I threaten to leave and then they lower it. Recently they didn’t lower my rate because i had it lowered 4 times in the last 2 years. So i now don’t use my card ever with them except in an emergency which is almost never.

  25. Midwesterner says:

    An absolutely stunning example of this non-strategy was just committed by the NYTimes, who spammed their entire e-mail list with a discount offer intended for those who’d recently quit their subscriptions.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/nytimes-offers-discounts-mistaken-email-224554279.html

    • Midwesterner,

      Wow, that is a seriously shocking mistake. I can’t imagine what that day was like for the person who didn’t triple check that before sending out!

      I like your idea at the end Jonathan. I think it would work well even if only applied to a few random customers rather than a large group of people. Even having just a few raving fans here and there would go a long way toward building some great word of mouth.

  26. [...] Mistreating your customers? You may not realize it, but if you treat your best customers poorly, even without realizing it, the result could hurt your reputation and your brand. Focus on seeing your business the way others may and do the best you can for customers. Jonathan Fields [...]

  27. [...] Mistreating your customers? You may not realize it, but if you treat your best customers poorly, even unknowingly, the result could hurt your reputation and your brand. Focus on seeing your business the way others might and do the best you can for customers. Jonathan Fields [...]

  28. [...] Mistreating your customers? You may not realize it, but if you treat your best customers poorly, even unknowingly, the result could hurt your reputation and your brand. Focus on seeing your business the way others might and do the best you can for customers. Jonathan Fields [...]

  29. Phone companies are among the worst for re-marketing and suddenly attempting to kiss your butt and keep your business.

    Unfortunately, when is the last time a large company really did treat you well and not feel like a number?

    Car insurance companies STILL years later are trying to win back my business, it’s really something.

  30. [...] Mistreating your customers? You may not realize it, but if you treat your best customers poorly, even without realizing it, the result could hurt your reputation and your brand. Focus on seeing your business the way others may and do the best you can for customers. Jonathan Fields [...]

  31. Hiten says:

    Jonathan, this is such a coincidence, but I experienced exactly the same with an online service this morning. I was closing down my 3 months subscription, which gets billed automatically and was shown a sales page offering me a further 3 months subscription at 1/3 of the original price if I stayed! Needless to say I didn’t bother.

  32. [...] Don’t Treat Your Best Customers Like Morons and Marks – who deserves your best offers? [...]

  33. [...] and chat with 7 of the 14 this year (including Corbett Barr, Pat Flynn, Todd Clarke, Pamela Slim, Jonathan Fields, Steve Roy, and Mars Dorian) and I’m actually working for one of them now [...]

  34. WOW! I wonder if we used same service, ha ha

    I had 2 downsells and a OTO at the end

    But, I’d say my bank is the worst, at least the bank at a specific location….

    I’m shocked at how customer care isn’t taken seriously nowadays, or…. ever!

  35. Jonathan:
    Absolutely great post and discussion. Thanks for starting it. Here’s what I got:

    Mike Turner — with all due respect, after reading your comment I felt both physically sick and proud to be an entrepreneur that regards each of my customers as human beings, first and only. I realize that businesses have the right to behave in the way you describe, but Jonathan is right on target. Customers who have higher standards than the businesses they deal with honor themselves and their own personal integrity when they jump ship to another business that aligns with who they are and the value of their money.

    I am lucky to be a person with an entreprenurial mindset, gifted by the grace of the divine to have the talents I have in my field and delighted every time a customer puts their life and health in my hands. They are sacred to me, and it is my delight to serve them. Each of us has the choice to make every act of business an act of love, and that is the choice I make with each of my clients.

    I invite all businesses to operate from that same stance. Bringing our highest state of character to business and how we treat our customers honors everyone. And it’s a choice.

  36. Absolutely right. “Love the one you’re with!” And, also, don’t fail your customer, reader, patient, whoever it is—at the conclusion of your business together. See it through to the conclusion with the same high quality you’ve offered all along. I agree, also with you, about the trickery—insulting.
    Recently I created an arrangement with a new patient who was having trouble with affording the fee (psychotherapy) wherein she will be paying on a descending scale. (So, she begins with the full fee and it gradually reduces and then, finally, stabilizes at a lower amount) I have never done this before; I don’t know of any other therapist who has ever done it but once I conceived it, it made sense in so many ways.
    For one, it is a motivator for her. I like it that it will get easier for her as time goes on. It makes sense for me as the initial sessions with a new patient are much more difficult for the therapist than the sessions with an on-going client.
    Always be open to new ways of thinking about doing your business is my advice and keep the win-win notion forefront.

  37. Jonathan, I agree with your point that the customer service focusing on departing customers (or customers who just opted-out and left!) is a lousy time to offer a better deal. But the key point is that the relationship didn’t meet the needs of the user beforehand, so would you be able to suggest a good process for keeping the value of your service in the mind of the user WHILE they are still signed up? And quite possibly, doing that without offering a discount, which might possibly be seen as a “race to the bottom.”

  38. Coop says:

    Jonathan,
    In speaking to a client just this evening I “rewarded” her for being a good and consistent client. I let her know that I was giving her a better price as a way of thanking her.

  39. Michael Bush says:

    The art of showing customer appreciation is quickly becoming a lost art. I agree with your later comment that it’s not necessarily about “giving a 20% discount.” 2011 was a year of survival for most small businesses and if you’re still standing, it’s a good time to show appreciation to your customers. Not with a card or gift, but with unexpected services that exceed their expectations. Thank people by doing more of what you can do, so that the customer gets to know you better and the relationship deepens. Mutually advantageous, you can benefit from your customer by educating them about services they never knew you offered; it’s a great way to introduce them to new products and services.

  40. Maria says:

    Such a great article, and yes it is extremely frustrating when something of that nature happens. But while reading this article, I thought about something I do with my own business and wondered does this qualify for “treating my cusotmers like morons”? When a customer purchases something for the first time I give them a 10% coupon to promote multiple sales while saving them a little money. I keep customer service at the very top of my priority list, so I absolutely don’t want to offend my customers. Would you be upset that the offer was presented after you made your purchase for a future purchase?

  41. I had read this article when it was published and always wondered what company would do this. Then I canceled my GoToMeeting subscription this evening, and they did exactly what you describe, here. Not cool.