A few months ago I was reading the paper when I saw an ad for my bank offering a free iPad to any new customer who opened a checking account with them. “Wait a minute!” I thought, “I’ve been a loyal customer of this bank for years!” I’ve dutifully upped my minimum balance or signed up for direct deposit whenever their parameters for “free” checking changed. I pay bills and transfer money on-line- I’m practically an unpaid employee of theirs, doing all of the work that in-real-life tellers used to routinely handle. For all of this, I’ve been rewarded by my bank with…nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Certainly never an iPad.
I’m not suggesting that businesses don’t need to attract new clients. But is it good practice to treat potential clients with more consideration than existing ones? Banks seem especially prone to this – remember free toasters or electric skillets with every account opened? (I remember, but of course, I was very young…) However, banks are not alone. Loyal customers are the best source of new or continuing work, yet many businesses roll out the red carpet for new prospects, only to relegate them to a different, forgotten status once they’ve become clients.
Satisfied clients are your company’s most effective marketing – let them feel the love! Keep in touch and let them know they matter to you and your business. Ask how you can help make their business more effective. When you see something of interest related to their industry or an opportunity for them to be a thought leader in their field, share it with them. Make introductions to other clients and associates of yours that would benefit them. Reward clients for good referrals sent your way. Be a contributing partner to their success and your customers will be a partner to yours.
If I decide to move my vast assets (ha, ha!) to a new bank, I imagine I’ll receive a de riguer survey to find out why I’m leaving and what they can do better. I’ll get more attention leaving than I did as a customer.
As for the iPad…I guess it’s time to take some of that money and buy one for myself! Know any good apps I should have?