Do I Need A Toaster?


Way back in the ‘good old days’, banks used to try really hard to get new customers.

They also seemed to think that they should treat their current customers differently than the new customers they were trying to woo. What they didn’t seem to realize was, their current customers were the ones who allowed them the budget to try to attract the new customers.

Case in point.  About 25 years ago, one of the large Canadian Trust companies had a promotion offering toasters to new customers.  I went in to make a transaction (this was when ABM’s weren’t all the rage and we actually stood face to face with the CSR’s, or tellers as they were known then) and asked the teller for my new toaster.

The teller looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head.

“You don’t get a toaster Mr. Wright, you are already a customer.  The promotion is for new customers only.”

“Why wouldn’t I get a new toaster”, I asked, “I am a customer and if you are giving them to new customers, why not to existing customers?”

We went back and forth a few times until finally I said, “Then let’s close my three accounts and I will re-open them so I can get my new toaster.”

You could probably imagine her reaction.

She ran back to get the manager.

When he came out, he looked at me and said “Trevor, what are you doing?  You know you can’t do that.  The promotion is for new customers, not existing ones.”

So I told him to close my accounts, I was going to another bank.

When he asked if I would stay if he gave me a toaster I smiled and said “most definitely”.

I walked out with a brand new toaster that day, my accounts at the same institution, and a smile on my face.

This was one of my first forays into the world of customer service, and probably one that made me start realizing the importance of treating all customers the same.

As businesses, are we spending too much time trying to get new customers and not enough time with the customers we already have?

In my opinion, yes.

Look around, cell phone companies trying to entice you to switch, cable companies, internet providers.  Heck, I remember a time when we were looking at a new supplier for wholesale products and our current provider kept undercutting the new competition.  We eventually switched over to the new company.  When the old supplier asked why we said, “If you could lower the cost so much now, why not before we brought in a new supplier?”

See what happens when you become complacent and spend too much time trying to attract new customers, and forget about the ones you already have?  They tend to move on.

Celebrate your current customers.  Make sure they realize how important they are.  Make sure they realize how important they are to you.  Don’t ever forget that you can afford to attract new customers because of the income created from your current customers.

July 22, 2016 |

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