“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” ~Bill Gates
Think about building relationships, not prepping transactions.
Imagine everything you hate about the companies you deal with regularly: the 2-year contract, the hidden fee, jumping through hoops, and we could all keep going. I decided Abamath would do none of this, but we made one mistake:
We put in place a pretty standard practice with free trial periods. We required customers to give us their credit card to sign up for the free trial, then if they didn’t cancel, we would charge them as though they were continuing service. This is pretty standard practice today, and we thought it made sense. What’s the harm?
The harm is three-fold:
- You lose potential customers. They’ve played this game before, and they don’t like it. We had a handful of customers halfway through signing up for the free trial, and they simply walked away when asked for a credit card.
- You hurt your brand. Think about the times you have had a mysterious fee pop up or you couldn’t return an item or cancel a service because of some stupid policy. The integrity of the brand you are dealing with disintegrates instantly. You feel lied to because you missed a detail.
- You create enemies instead of allies. When customers feel like you have taken money from them unfairly, they will come to demand it back. Instead of providing awesome service to your paying clients, you’re spending your time explaining arbitrary company policies to angry ex-customers.
Treat your customers with respect
The solution is easy. Don’t play games.
Creating goodwill and building relationships with potential customers is the correct way to get them coming back and paying happily. Keeping an open door with customers who decide they no longer need your service is important, and getting referrals is essential.
It’s scary going a few months losing money, but you don’t get customer love from cheap tricks. It’s ok to lose the pennies when customers abuse promotions; win the dollars that come with customer loyalty. Those are the dollars that will make your business a success.
Bonus: you don’t spend your time being told how terrible you are.
Luke Schlangen is the founder and president of Abamath: A Better Approach to Math