Monday, August 16, 2010

First Time Clients Only

It doesn’t get any better than when a colleague sends me her recent customer experience. It is best if I let you hear it from her –

“I made an appointment to get my hair cut a week ago because I received a 50% off  coupon for the salon I’ve been going to for 6 years, 2 – 3 times a year. After my hair cut, I was informed the coupon was good for “first time clients only.” Sure enough, it was there in the fine print, so I paid full price. I can accept the fact that I should have looked at it more closely, but it made me think – why are they willing to give a discount for a new client, but not honor it for me, a loyal client of 6 years! Of course, all businesses are trying to lure new customers, but something about this just felt wrong and it certainly did not produce a favorable customer experience. If they had honored the coupon this one time, or even said we’ll give you 25% off, I would have been thrilled and walked away extremely happy, ready to tell all my girlfriends what wonderful service my salon has!

Also, as I gave the front desk person my debit card to pay, I asked if she would add the tip, as I had always done in the past. She said, “By the way, we’re not supposed to accept tip via credit card any more. Next time, you need to bring cash for that.” I said, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now. Why didn’t they let me know about this change when I made the appointment?”

Long story short, I left the salon thinking, I’m not sure if I’ll go back. Maybe I will ask friends if they have any other great places to recommend. It would have been so easy to keep a loyal customer happy, yet they seemed more concerned with bringing in new clients.”

Michele is right. Many of you have had a very similar experience to this. Most companies are more concerned with attracting new customers than they are with keeping current ones loyal. Where is the common sense in this experience? Your current customers are more valuable and they are less expensive to serve. Research tells you loyal customers are more likely to try new products and services and even pay a premium. They are your best referral source.

So what is your lesson for this story –

Should the coupon be for all customers?
Do your team members know what to do when faced with a similar situation?
How hard are you working to keep current customers?
What does this type of mistake cost you? 
Even think about the customers who overheard this salon transaction.

Here is my recommendation – Be fair, be respectful. Customers are hard to get so work even harder to keep them.

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