How To Make Your Customers Love You

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” ~Bill Gates

Customer Love

Abamath Series – This is the third in a series of blogposts by Luke Schlangen, Founder of Abamath. (read the 1st and 2nd)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Luke Schlangen, Founder of Abamath

6 thoughts on “How To Make Your Customers Love You

  1. My entire job is about managing customer relationships and building customer loyalty. Ensuring the customer received “fair value” is the most important role, however, sometimes the lines of “fair value” become blurred. I find it best to take each situation on a case by case basis, depending on the commercial impact of the customer. My question is – do you agree that each situation should be judged on its own merit, or do you have a strict, standard set of guidelines that you apply to every customer?

    • I agree with judging situations on their own merit. I don’t know any business that could get by without being flexible. That said, if your situations all start to look very similar, a best practice will probably emerge. The more you tend toward high volume, low value sales, the more I would expect standardization to apply.

      (I sent this comment to Luke last night, so we can expect his thoughts as well.)

      • I definitely agree that the situation should be judged based on their merit, but I think the goal is to fix the problem before it gets to that point.

        1. The goal is to have a company policy should be to make the customer happy without letting the company get ripped off, or needing to make case-by-case decisions. That’s a win for everybody. The goal is to have thought enough about unique situations to have covered everything.
        2. When that doesn’t work I think the goal of the policy should be to make the decision easy. I don’t deal with products, anything with a substantial “cost of goods sold,” or any sales over $199, so my experience is going to limit my expertise when it comes to say… large industrial sales. My decisions are relatively easy, because we don’t structure our service with “6-month plans.” Other centers do, and it’s a nightmare when people want to leave early.

        But you’re right, the policy won’t cover everything and some policies just aren’t that great. At that point, you will absolutely have to judge the situation. You can’t live under the impression that everyone is going to like you, but I think being fair and trying to avoid these situations are key to customer happiness.

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