Why do many companies treat their contract customers poorly?

Scenario: Your customer is under contract; the need to wow them still applies, but many vendors don’t act like it.  Vendors tend to use that “wow” energy to woo new customers. Maybe they’ll keep that energy through a honeymoon period, but then they lapse into an ongoing maintenance mode.

I’ve been on both sides of this conversation, and learned this lesson the hard way.

As a vendor, your performance for a client maybe good. Your service maybe good.But is your organization geared to improve the relationship on a consistent basis?Can you continually WOW clients so the relationship can easily withstand a few rounds of RFP’s, and your clients will not hesitate to recommend you?

Everyone has felt this contract-means-mediocrity phenomena. Look no farther than your mobile phone or cable contract. The new customers get all the good stuff.It would not be that difficult to throw a few perks to longtime customers under the guise of just that; loyal and longtime cash cows clients.

I had a recent discussion with a user of Lifetouch Services (school pictures) and I’ve heard this story before with this company. The school is under contract and the ongoing service, performance and general attitude is poor, which is a direct reflection of management. Do contracts = lower margin = poor service?

As a vendor, you should think of these contracts a bit like dating vs. marriage or a long term relationship.  The date gets the best of what you have to offer. The date typically gets more of your energy and enthusiasm. You are constantly trying to impress a date in one way or another. Can you say this about your relationship with a client?

Well run ecommerce businesses can more easily maintain the wow factor through good use of CRM, delivering relevant recommendations and sales offers on a consistent basis.  Traditional business can do this as well, but those with high touch businesses need their service staff has to have the “dating” mentality on an ongoing basis. Surprise the client. Wow them by digging deeper into their needs to solve problems vs. just delivering products/services.

“Wow” is a top down attitude that will serve your company well with long term relationships and new business garnered from those relationships.

This is not rocket science.  Two quick and easy exercises: 1. Picture a long term client issuing an RFP. What will the competition come in with?  Are you already providing that?  How can you improve the proposal?   2. Picture your client as a new target. How would you craft a proposal to win their business over your hungry competition?  You need to be answering those questions and delivering on those answers.

There are so many actions that a company can take, with little investment, to wow clients. If you need assistance in making this shift, we’d be happy to guide the process.

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