Servicing New Customers

You may know the concept of on-boarding.  Circulation executives, of course, know the concept of “renewal at birth” when you’re offered the chance to extend your subscription the instant you buy.   Years ago, I led a team who called new customers the instant they signed up for a technical service.  It was an expensive series of calls that could have been replaced by a single, simple set of marketing materials and instructions.

We wanted a warm voice welcoming a new client and setting the stage for future service.  More importantly, we wanted someone to know how to use our services properly and deal with any questions or perceptions that came up.

Watch this film clip from 1987’s Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfus and Danny Devito.  Dreyfus just went for a hardsell on buying a new Cadillac in 1960s Baltimore.  Like any car buyer, he has lots of questions because the process is unfamiliar to him.  More on that a minute.  Watch what happens after he signs on the dotted line.

The man Dreyfus grabs at the end of the scene is the poor sales rep, who of course did nothing to contribute to the accident or Dreyfus’ mood.  But your key takeaway as a small business is that your client’s perception of your product is forever linked to that moment of delight when they first see or use your product or service.

Treat them right, and they may never switch.  Treat them like another notch on your belt and you’ll take your chances with competitors and substitutes.

Around the holidays, a friend suggested Batchbook to me as a substitute for bigger CRM programs.  Everyone does time management and CRM differently, but this program has appealed to me for several months, and is now the first tab open on my system every day.  This isn’t a commercial for them, nor is the link an affiliate link.  My friend liked them, recommended them and now I like them.

Here’s the part about servicing new customers that Batchblue understands about selling its Batchbook product.  There’s a free mode.  It’s not a demo. It’s  just limited in terms of storage.   The demo works just fine.  That’s a free entry point.  I picked the lowest paid entry point at $9.99 monthly.  That’s a $120 year customer.

For my purchase and before the company had collected its first penny, I had a service representative work with me on the phone and through email to configure the system to the way I wanted to work.  The service is $9 each month.   I had three contacts in this onboarding process and spent about 90 minutes total with the company.  Then I took to their community boards and complained about several features I thought were lacking.

Nine dollars.  I’m complaining to the other users.  They’re walking me through the system.

And the the magic happens.  Four days after my long phone call with the company, I receive a nice, handwritten and personalized card from the person I spoke with.

The card and postage, the ninety minutes of time, the access to their community and the company still hadn’t collected a penny.

But I think they’ll collect a lot of dollars in the future because they understand the issue about servicing a new customer.  Dreyfus’ salesperson hustled to get him a loaner in the clip you just watched.  Batchblue spent hundreds of dollars on my account that has started at $108/year but could easily go to their enterprise level pricing one day.  And they couldn’t buy coverage like this blog for a multiple of what they spent in time with me.

Delighting new customers through amazing service.  That’s the differentiator we used and how we compete with and beat agencies dozens of times our size for clients.  You sleep better at night, your retention worries are nearly zero and client calls are a pleasure.  Consider how your organization treats new customers and what might happen if you push for delighting them instead of servicing them.

6 comments

  • Lynwood737

    Lynwood737

    Reply

    In too many places in America customer “service” is mediocre at best. It's refreshing to see BatchBook has a more enlightened understanding and that you were served well. I especially agree with your “Treat them right” paragraph, George. It's the hallmark our firm works hard to live by.

    Regards,
    Lyn
    @Dr_Cards

  • George Bounacos

    George Bounacos

    Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Lyn, and for dropping by. Over-servicing is expensive, but one of the things Sara & I agreed on early in Silver Beacon's history was that we could easily beat the churning local advertising agencies with amazing service. We've still never had a PPC customer cancel. A few decided to go do other things, but no one ever left us for another agency. I love saying that.

    And if one does one day, I'll still get a kick out saying “Only one…”

    Having cut my teeth on service as a kid, I learned early on how to position retention as a profit center. It still amazes me that most executives refuse to see it that way.

  • Lynwood737

    Lynwood737

    Reply

    You wrote, “I learned early on how to position retention as a profit center.” Perhaps because you instinctively grasped the idea it is a whole lot less expensive to retain a client than obtain a new one.

    Regarding your amazement that “most executives refuse to see it that way” reminds me the more I see close ups of executives caught in the act of making decisions the more I marvel. All too often their businesses succeed in spite of, rather than because of C-level decision-making.

  • Lynwood737

    Lynwood737

    Reply

    In too many places in America customer “service” is mediocre at best. It's refreshing to see BatchBook has a more enlightened understanding and that you were served well. I especially agree with your “Treat them right” paragraph, George. It's the hallmark our firm works hard to live by.

    Regards,
    Lyn
    @Dr_Cards

  • George Bounacos

    George Bounacos

    Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Lyn, and for dropping by. Over-servicing is expensive, but one of the things Sara & I agreed on early in Silver Beacon's history was that we could easily beat the churning local advertising agencies with amazing service. We've still never had a PPC customer cancel. A few decided to go do other things, but no one ever left us for another agency. I love saying that.

    And if one does one day, I'll still get a kick out saying “Only one…”

    Having cut my teeth on service as a kid, I learned early on how to position retention as a profit center. It still amazes me that most executives refuse to see it that way.

  • Lynwood737

    Lynwood737

    Reply

    You wrote, “I learned early on how to position retention as a profit center.” Perhaps because you instinctively grasped the idea it is a whole lot less expensive to retain a client than obtain a new one.

    Regarding your amazement that “most executives refuse to see it that way” reminds me the more I see close ups of executives caught in the act of making decisions the more I marvel. All too often their businesses succeed in spite of, rather than because of C-level decision-making.

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