Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Drive Customers Away

When you give your customer an excuse to check out the competition, chances are, they won't be back.

Car salesmen know the routine.   If you have a prospect on the lot, and if they say they are going to "go home and think about it" or "want to check out the competition across town" then you are not going to make a sale.   Why?  Because once they are off the lot, they're gone.   They'll buy from the last place they go to, not the first.   So you have to close the sale and not give them an excuse to shop around. Otherwise, you are just handing your business to your competitor.

Similarly, if you don't offer one-stop shopping, you may be giving your customers away.   For example, if you remodel kitchens but tell your clients, "I don't do the plumbing part, you'll have to find someone else for that" then they will be forced to shop around for a plumber, who may suggest another contractor or offer to do the whole kitchen himself.   You don't want to give the client an excuse to search elsewhere.  If you do, they will start to re-think their whole relationship with you.

As I noted in another posting, I used to have over a dozen policies with State Farm - life (4), home (5), umbrella (1), cars (5), and boats (2).   When I moved to Coastal Georgia, they told me they could not write a policy on a barrier island and suggested I talk to Nationwide instead.   Bad Move.  Because now I was "shopping insurance" instead of just making a phone call to "my" insurance company.   And shop I did.  Today, we have two policies with State farm, one life, and one for the condo.

You never want to give your customers an excuse to shop around.   It is just basic common sense and good salesmanship and good business.   As soon as they start shopping, chances are, you will never see them again - unless you are one of the few suppliers who have either (a) a unique product that cannot be found elsewhere or (b) screamingly low prices that no one else can match.   Few of us have either to offer.

I am currently shopping around for a new investment company to park my assets in.   We have a trading account and four IRA accounts, which will soon be augmented by some new monies coming in.   Ordinarily, I would have just sent this money to Fidelity, but Fidelity has been dropping the ball lately (see my previous posting) which is forcing me to look around for alternatives.

I have tried to communicate with Fidelity regarding an inherited IRA, and the only thing I got from them was an e-mail with a URL link to "setup a new account" - no explanation as to how the account would be set up (why not roll it over into an existing account?) or how I was to initiate the transfer.   There were two Fidelity agents involved, one with the previous account and one for our account. I asked them to coordinate this transfer, and never heard from them again.   Poor communication.

Then, they crammed this new website down my throat.  I got a call today from a manager, who explained that, like it or not, the old site goes dark in May and we will be forced to use the new one.   The new site does not display any data that is not on the old site, but it just does it in an annoying manner using flash animation which crashes my computer.

It also, I now realize, is designed to appeal to the social networking crowd by making your investments look like Tweets or Facebook postings.   I am not sure why I need to pay for this (and I pay for this, with the money Fidelity takes off the top of all these investments I make with them).  Fidelity has a lot of offices and a lot of managers and apparently, too many web designers.

Maybe I should shop around.   Fidelity isn't giving me a choice with their website, so the only choice I have is to leave.

So, they've forced me to shop around.   And maybe I'll find that when I shop around, I'll find a better deal somewhere else.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. It just gets worse....

    Today in the mail, not one, but two mailings from Fidelity (one for each account) saying, "PER YOUR REQUEST, we have changed your core account from Bank of America to Citibank...."

    I'm thinking, "Weird, I don't remember making any changes to my account. Has someone hacked into my account?"

    So I call the 1-800 number. Turns out this is the "Premium Service" number, that only people with certain net worths are allowed to call! All you plebes out there - you are not welcome at Fidelity!

    So I get ahold of "Ted" and he explains that the company just changed cash core accounts from BoA to Citi.

    I ask him, "Well, why did the letter say, PER YOUR REQUEST? It kind of made me worry that someone was changing my account - because I never made such a request!"

    "Oh, well, it is a standard form letter, blah, blah, blah...."

    It seems that the folks at Fidelity aren't paying attention to the details. The cost of mailing this letter - to every account holder they have - must have been staggering. Why not send an online notification (like everything else)?

    And why word the letter in such a way that most of the recipients will call you to ask what the fuck it means?

    Just dumb. Never do a mass-mailing like that (three pages no less! Could have been done in a post card!) without figuring out what the consequences will be first.

    That mass-mailing cost them tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, not just for the mailing, but for all the phone calls that clogged the customer service line.

    Not keeping an eye on the ball!


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