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November 22, 2004

Do you treat new customers better than existing ones?

I’ve been using Timematters (version 5.0) since it came out, and was a faithful user of 4.0 before then.  Now I see that version 6.0 is out, with a bunch more bells and whistles.  Apart from a very complicated interface, I’m generally happy with 5.0, and if the Outlook integration worked as advertised (or at all on my machines), I’d stay with that product.  However, if the new version dramatically improved my user experience, I’d spring for the $500 or so the upgrade would cost our office.

Today I called LexisNexis Timematters sales and asked if I could download a trial version of the new software or get a demo disk.  The salesperson told me that was not an option for me, because I was already a customer.  Instead, I had to buy the upgrade and then take advantage of the money-back guarantee if I was unsatisfied.  However, if I didn’t already own the product, the salesperson assured me, they would send out a working demo disk and give me thirty days to “test drive” the software.

This isn’t a rant against Timematters, per se.  Instead, it should be a lesson to all of us whose business depends on returning clients or customers.  Before you extend that “special offer” and limit it to new customers only, think about how your loyal customers would feel if they learned it wasn’t available to them as well.  Why not give those existing customers the special perks and see how much more your business grows.

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Comments

Excellent message. I agree.

I had a similar discussion with my ISP recently. They're busy competing for new customers, but take existing customers for granted (especially those that have been with them for a long time, and use them for a number of services).

They offer the new customers great deals ("no contract!", "entry-level plans", "dedicated account manager") that existing customers had asked for but never received (and now are precluded from receiving until contracts expire).

Feels like they're treating existing customers like hostages - "we've got you, so just shut up". Instead of offering what I want (reduce the cost of existing plans) they offer something that is meaningless (bigger download limits for same price).

Complaints to the Marketing department go unanswered.

It really makes you feel like switching.

Same happens in the practice of law. Good lesson to learn.

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