Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

September 25th, 2009

Am I a bad customer?

Pardon me. But I have a question for you. Can you help me understand why my bank and my insurance company do not want anymore of my money?

It is true. My bank does it. And so does my insurance company. And they have been doing it for years. In fact, they have been doing it for as long as I can remember. And quite frankly it is getting to the point where I am becoming annoyed by it.

You see, they only talk about it. That is what they do. Talk about grand customer targeted dialogue programs. Initiatives that will enable them to upsell, cross-sell, and even to retain my customership. And I know for a fact, that their dialogue agencies and loyalty strategy advisors talk about it. But I haven’t seen any actions in the past 5-10 years. And I find that utterly strange.

But come to think of it. Perhaps my banker and insurer is thinking “Michael Leander is doing fine, he never complains, so we won’t bother him. He seems to be a happy, loyal customer“. I guess it would make sense then. But in fact neither of them has ever asked me how I evaluate our business relationship. So they really do not know. In fact, I am one of the thousands of silent customers. We are a large group of people and companies whom do not act. We react.

Consider joining the Customership course
So I have been thinking. Am I a bad customer? Am I doing something wrong? Should I join the - not yet invented - course in “Customership” to stand a better change of getting the attention from my bank and my insurance company, which I believe I deserve?

Of course I have been considering the possibility, that I might not be a really good customer. Perhaps the money of my wife, and an early-in-life business relationship with our children, aren’t all that important to my bank. And perhaps the future prospective earnings by increasing our insurance premiums really do not make a difference in the overall earnings of our insurance provider. And certainly neither of them might care about our family’s referral value.

Telecommunication companies are trying
Thing is. My telecommunication providers are doing it. And honestly speaking, one of them is doing it quite well. The other one is not. I guess it is fair to say that one telco is executing relevant one-to-one messages to me, and the other often spam our physical mail box and - surprise! - our email inbox with irrelevant one-size-fits-all information and selling propositions. But at least they try. They show me that they care, that they are happy about my business, and that they would like more of it.  And once in a while they call.

Just as my alarm provider did the other day. It is true. They actually called to offer a new service. I politely declined the offer, but nevertheless I was thrilled about their call. Yes, because it seemed to me, that they actually value our business. Even if it is only around 2.000 Euro pr. year.

So. I am getting to the point of becoming annoyed. Not only as a marketing professional. But first and foremost as a private consumer. Because I find that in this day and age, my bank should contact me frequently. And if I do not call their customer service, they must call me. Especially since I am one of the silent, self-serving customers. And the same is true for the insurance company. In fact, the insurance company must call more frequently. For obvious reasons.

From cheap talk to value adding actions
Talk is cheap. And for years talks have been going on about the tremendous impact CRM, dialogue marketing, customer centric programs and loyalty schemes could have on - for instance - the banking industry, insurance industry, telcos and such.  But talking does not cut it any longer. For banks and insurance companies, as well as most other highly competitive industries targeting consumers, it is important to act after talking. And act in a smart way.

Being smart in utilizing the customer knowledge they (definitely) have in order to provide better service, better communication, more relevant offers, offers that are better timed, which subsequently will turn into a more valuable customer with a longer lifetime.

Believe me !

A well strategized, smartly planned and efficiently executed customer orientation program with built in cross-sell, up sell and retention mechanisms will work. It is true.

It is equally true, that my bank is missing out on some of my business. And so is my insurance company. And while they do not attract all the banking/insurance money in my wallet, they are making it easy for me to become disloyal.  And while I haven’t stopped doing business with them, I have been exploring alternatives. And perhaps one day the alternatives become smarter. And at that time I might choose to move all my business to the alternative supplier, which of course will save me the trouble of trying to understand what is wrong with my relationship to my bank and my insurance company.

Convenience aspect is still in play
Frankly speaking I prefer to do business with one bank and only one. But now I am doing business with two. And I would prefer to have all our insurances with one insurer. But now we have two. And it would without a doubt be easier for us if our broadband, mobile phone, land line and datacard subscription were with one telco, rather than two.  But I am currently not enjoying that convenience. And I blame that entirely on our primary telecommunication provider. Because they never did the effort to switch some of my subscriptions from the alternative provider.

Now, you may be thinking “Why doesn’t this guy just call the suppliers in question?”. Well - I’ll give you the answer. It is not convenient for me. And what’s more - it is awkward. And I am of course also reluctant because I am professionally curious as to how many years it will last before a big bank, a large insurance company and the telcos on the fiercely competitive telco market, actually stop talking and start acting.

Talk is expensive - acting not
As a marketing and customer service professional, you know it. You know that talking without acting doesn’t cut it. In fact you might also be aware that not acting can be the most expensive decision you’ve ever made. In order to become successful in the customer experience economy, you must dialogue with your customers. Do not take us for granted. Because you cannot plan that we take you for granted.

You need to listen. Setup your listening posts. And if nobody is talking. That is when you need to start asking questions. If I use any of your channels to get in touch with your business, use that opportunity to ask me how I am doing. Am I satisfied with the relationship? Do I have any new unmet needs? Etc.

The initiative is yours.

If you have comments or would like to know more, please contact Michael Leander Nielsen - [email protected]This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit Customaxi

About the Author

Micheal Leander Nielsen

Michael Leander Nielsen, CEO of Fokus Integrated, is a customer lifecycle marketing automation expert  and a marketing innovator. He is also an author and a speaker on subjects such as marketing automation, marketing performance metrics, customer strategies and effective internet marketing strategies. More information about Michael Leander Nielsen:

Meemoo2 - A blog for Marketing managers

Marketingboss TV Channel - hundreds of edutaining, educating, inspirational videos and films

With more than 20 years of managerial and operational experience from three continents, Danish born Michael Leander Nielsen is an integrated marketing expert and a marketing innovator. 

Today he spends his time with ambitious companies and organizations, providing consulting services in a range of specialised marketing fields. He is an expert in the fields of integrated marketing, marketing automation and productivity programs, internet marketing, push and pull strategies, lead relationship management strategies, customer experience strategies and strategies for growth and internationalization.

From newspapers to marketing, internet and CRM
Ever since his first "real job" soliciting subscriptions to The Delray and Boynton Beach News Journal door-to-door in sunny Florida, his career has included some 10 years in the marketing/publishing industry, and approximately 10 years in the IT software and IT distribution industry. 

Combining experience from the client side and the consulting/agency side, and having consulted to major-league clients across a variety of industries, Michael is a highly insightful, innovative and productive top-level marketing consultant.

Speaker, educator and mentor
He has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences, written hundreds of articles, lectured at numerous educational institutions, and is frequently quoted in leading marketing and IT industry publications in several countries.  Moreover, he proudly assists talented entrepreneurs in a capacity as board and/or advisory board member to share his experience in a mentor capacity. Check out his upcoming speaking engagements here 



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