Customer Service, Customer Acquisition

The greatest global imbalance has nothing to do with trade deficits or petro-dollars.  It’s the mismatch between dollars spent to acquire new customers, versus dollars spent to retain existing customers.  The first is very big, the second is very small.  If businesses were to consider customer retention benefits, I’m sure that many would beef up their customer service.

This thoughts are prompted by CRM Lowdown’s list of the 10 best and 10 worst corporations for service through call centers. (Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.)  I do business with three companies mentioned on the list, and my socks have not been knocked off.

Here’s an important lesson: The best customer service anywhere is an attack on poor customer service everywhere.  Example: I got home late one evening, thumbed through the mail and found my bank statement with an entry for "miscellaneous debit."  I didn’t know what that was, so I called the bank’s "Day and Night Banking" number.  I learned that they were unable to explain the bill at that hour, though I could find out the balance in my bank account.  While doing that, I was thumbing through the Land’s End catalog.  I saw a pair of shorts that looked good.  When I got off the phone after the unsuccessful call to the bank, I called Land’s End.  They answered immediately.  My sales rep was able to answer a question about the kind of pockets the shorts had.  I bought the garment.  I had not been mad at my bank for its inability to serve me at 10 pm, until I had business with a company that was able to serve me.  Then I asked, if Land’s End can do it, why can’t my bank?  (The worst part of the story: I was a Senior Vice President at that bank.)