I was listening to the Zac Brown Band’s “Last But Not Least” the other day. It’s about a guy who prioritizes everything around him except what’s most important:

I put everything together
But I left out one big piece
I put you last
But not least

Unlike the song, this blog post isn’t about getting the girl. (Or country music, or my incredibly eclectic Spotify playlists.) It’s about prioritizing your customers.

Companies screw this up every day.

Let me give you just one example.

Until December 26, I had been using the same Internet service provider since I got my first e-mail address. I stayed faithful for 20+ years, from very (very, very) slow dial-up to high-speed cable, because the connection was always reliable. But the price to me kept going up, while the price new customers paid was a lot lower. The last time I asked about pricing, I was told that if I bundled services I would be able to get two services (cable modem + cable TV) for what I was now paying just for my cable modem. What they wouldn’t do, however, was lower the monthly fee on the service I already had.

The day after I cancelled someone called to see what they could do to keep my business.

The company put me last—and least.

Unless you operate as a complete monopoly in your marketplace, the cost of retaining customers is always going to be cheaper than the cost of acquiring new ones. They’re already paying you; and businesses need steady income streams. Plus existing customers (particularly long-time ones) are often happy customers you can tap for testimonials and count on for word-of-mouth referrals.

The one thing your business can do to start 2014 off right is to prioritize the customers or clients you have today. What are you going to do about it?

Photo by Terry Whalebone (Flickr).

 

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