How to treat your clients like PooPoo. And other lessons learned from my bank.

April 26, 2011

I thought maybe I won a prize. Um, not so much. Its like they were proud or something.

I bank with several institutions. One of my smaller accounts is with Bank of America (I thought I’d try them out a year ago). Over the last year I have had many unpleasant encounters. So, here are a few lessons I learned about how to treat your clients like poopoo and make sure they find another destination, event, hotel, restaurant or other good or service upon which to spend their time and money.
  • Offer terms that are really, really good and then yank it out from beneath them, with no warning you would do so.
  • Offer a special ONLY to NEW clients. Punish those who have been loyal to you the longest (cable and phone companies are really adept with this too).
  • Penalize your clients for wanting a personal interaction with your service or brand. Discourage them from interfacing with your people so that there is no possibility of up-selling them on mutually beneficial financial products/solutions.
    Charge a monthly fee for the privilege of using their money to make more money for your institution.
  • Utilize technology that doesn’t have a fallback plan. When a customer is disgruntled that the new envelope-free ATM won’t read their checks for deposit and there are NO envelopes as a contingency, act offended that the client was a bit perturbed at having to stand in another line to complete their transaction.
  • Above all, when they close their account and explain why, make them feel like they’re just one tiny customer amongst billions of other lemmings so we’re sorry to see you go Ms. Connolly, okay, suuuure we’ll take your feedback into consideration, buh-bye now, smile. Okay, nexxxxt?
It’s funny, but it’s not. And while I’m griping about banks, there are certainly many lessons we can learn from this.
  • Are you clearly communicating to your clients or event attendees what the expectations are from both parties and not hiding behind “policy”? If you have bad news about additional or unexpected costs, are you presenting the news in a sensitive manner?
  • Did you know it’s more expensive to gain a new client than keep an “old” one? How about if you were to provide special secret codes to your most loyal clients or event attendees and let them give those out to referrals. If enough of their referrals buy or register, they earn a free registration! How’s that for rewards and keeping clients happy?
  • Take into account the tech needs and sophistication of ALL attendees or clients. Our good friend Jeff Hurt recently blogged about a meeting planner who lost her job because she assumed everyone would have a smart phone. If you’re using technology, enable everyone (ie provide free or low-cost rentals of iTouch units).
Most of all, in a time when the client/consumer voice carries more weight than ever, you must stay aware of what those voices are saying about you. Don’t forget to use your social tools to listen and engage with all those voices – whether it be to thank, converse, praise or apologize. Be a human and not an email address, listen to your customers/delegates and let them know you hear them too.