Talk to the animals

In the not too recent past, my business was quite dependent on a product from a particular company. As good as it is, this product had a rough time, as it was passed from one company to another. Unfortunately, none of the owners anywhere along this trail seem to have an inkling of customer relationship skills, much less marketing aptitude.

Certainly there is or has been at least one person at these companies that “gets it”, but it is never the CEO. Leadership comes from the top. If the CEO mistreats the customer base and has disdain for them, guess what the line employees are going to do and have. That’s exactly what one sees in this case.

Case in point: Any customer of this company who is unfortunate enough to state negative comments, constructive or not, gets summarily ignored.

Certainly the 80/20 rule is applicable and we all have customers we should “fire”, but ignoring “everyone” is stunningly inept. If you are willing to ignore your customers and make them ambivalent to your company and your product or service, you are ASKING a competitor to come in and take your business.

When I walk into a business and get treated like this, the first thought that crosses my mind is to call my real estate person and ask if this business’ competitor is for sale.

In this case, we’re talking about a product that the customer gets fairly heavily invested in from a time point of view, so perhaps the company feels that a multiple year, multiple decade pile of products related to this company’s product is an impediment to the departure of customers. They couldnt be more wrong. These days, companies like this are fiddling while Rome burns.

Will this company go out of business? Perhaps not.

Do they have a notable percentage of customers who are perpetually annoyed with them? Absolutely.

Will they leave millions on the table? Absolutely.

Does this negatively impact their customers? Sure. Without the millions that they should have had and the resources that money could provide, this company will be less agile and less able to provide to their customers that which will keep them ahead of THEIR competitors.

Talk to your customers as often as possible, by email, direct mail, fax, telephone, smoke signals…SOMETHING. If you dont, I can assure you that someone else is. It might even be my company and Id like nothing better than to take your customer and do the simple things that are necessary to keep them as my customer for life.