Customers are not fungible! Treat with Care!
Every business, either big or small, all rely on customers to stay in operation. Forgetting who pays the bills, buys the products and provides the employee salaries and hopefully helps the firm make a profit is a key critical factor in business.
Recently, our firm had an experience which shows just how valued a customer we were! Sadly, the business lost us as customers. Happily, we found new vendors which we are much happier with and seem to recognize the value of a long-term customer relationship.
Our firm had an established banking relationship with a large community bank. We maintained the relationship for over 15 years, always maintaining account balances in the 6-figure range during the period of the relationship. When we had a small snag, the bank forgot who we were as a customer! The hassle factor was way too much for anyone individual, especially a long-term customer.
A check was lost. Where, no one knows. In the mail, in the office, someplace. Our firm called the bank and requested a stop payment action be taken on the check. The bank was more than willing to stop payment on the check; however, we would incur a $30 fee for this service. Being long term bank customers, with several accounts with 6 figure balances, we did not wish to pay the fee. No one would.
We talked to 4 staffers at the bank, starting at the receptionist. The receptionist is not empowered to make that decision, so we were transferred to a “customer service associate.” This individual did not have the authority to waive any fees, so we had to talk with a “bank officer.” This “bank officer” had some decision making authority but could not waive a $30 fee. For that to occur, the bank president had to be consulted. Did we want that? Hell yes, we did! The bank president agreed to waive the fee “this one time, as a ‘customer courtesy’ for us!” Well, you can guess the rest of the story!
A 15-year banking relationship where the bank made money on our business was not good enough to waive a $30 fee. 4 staffers had to be consulted for an action that should have been able to be handled by at least the second staffer.
Amazingly, soon, we found a new bank who was happy to have our business! REAL HAPPY! The bank president, after having heard our story, confirmed that we would not have to pay any fees! The bank vice president and junior loan officer both jumped over backwards to establish the new accounts. The new bank also pays interest on checking accounts!
The new bank called and offered complimentary tickets to a major golf tournament in town. Amazingly, the old bank never ever called, nor even offered a cup of coffee!
Take care of your customers! Check with them, periodically, like every couple of months, if not more frequently to see that they are happy with your service, your products and your overall business operations. Business is about relationships. Relationships are a 2-way street. We did our part. The old bank seemed to have no interest n our on-going relationship. We moved. We are much happier, have better service and know that we are a valued customer. Ensure that your customers are valued. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know.