I realize I’m giving away my age when I say this, but years ago, back when payrolls consisted exclusively of paper checks, a company I worked for would put messages on those check stubs that accompanied the checks. It might be a seasonal message such as “Happy Holidays” in late December, or more of a reminder such as “Don’t forget, we match xx% on your 401K contributions”.
On one payroll, we decided to do something a little different. We placed the message “This check comes courtesy of our customers”. A lot of us in the administration office thought it would be a great way to remind our employees why we have jobs and why we are getting paid. But I had no idea the reaction I would get once our employees started seeing this message on their checks.
Our office started receiving calls and emails, asking us to explain the meaning of this message. Some even voiced complaints—hey I earned this money, what courtesy am I being given? I was shocked beyond belief. Was it possible that this many of our employees were completely disconnected from why we were able to pay them a wage?
Do a quick Google search on customer retention vs. customer acquisition and you will be amazed at the amount of data that’s out there on the subject. Intuitively, you can probably imagine that getting a new customer is much more difficult that retaining one. What you may not realize is just how difficult it is. In many cases, it takes several months, sometimes years, to land a new customer. On the flip side, it only takes a few seconds to lose one. The consensus is that it costs companies five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. I think that estimate is understated.
I’m going to give a plug for a company I use, Sun Country Cleaners in Brandon. I think all dry-cleaning services are pretty much alike. They make sure they provide quick turnaround, do a good job of cleaning your shirts and suits without losing or damaging them. And Sun Country Cleaners does as good a job as anyone else. But that is not the reason I use that company for my dry cleaning. They are not the most convenient location to where I live, nor are they the cheapest.
But here is why: every time I go there, they greet me by my name. In fact, sometimes when I walk in the door, they are not even standing at the counter at that moment. They see me walking up to the door from my car and immediately go to retrieve my clothing from the rack. They know me. You might think that I am a huge customer doing hundreds of dollars of business every week. But I’m not at all. I may go in once a month and exchange seven or eight shirts at a time. I go there because they make me feel that I am the reason they exist as a business there.
In the book, Built to Last, the author, Jim Collins, finds that companies that have survived for the long haul have one thing in common—superior customer service. Almost to a cult-like level. Just having someone remembering your name when you walk in, even though you come in once a month—that is powerful.
At AK Consultants and Healthcare, we know that retaining customers does not come easy. While we help your company land new customers, we can also provide strategies and training to develop and cultivate existing relationships. Customers are the lifeblood of any company. Success is dependent on how well aligned we are to serving the needs of our customers.
And just taking the time to know them.