What? You Already Are A Customer?

Saturday was one of the days in the south, where you never know, when or if it is going to rain. One of those days, where the sun plays hide and seek with you all day long. Because of the unpredictable state of the weather, I spent the morning rushing to complete some long over due yard.

While working feverishly and focused, I was approached by a stranger with a clipboard. He  did not announce himself and it was if he appeared out of nowhere and startled me. (I almost screamed but I was able to catch myself.) As the guy approached we had the following conversation:

Me: I’m sorry, but as you can see I’m really busy here, I’m trying to finish the yard before the rain comes.

Him: I see your busy but you are one of the last ones on your street I need to speak to this week. I need to wrap this up today.

Me: (Seeing that the only way this was going to move along I asked…)What can I do for you? (admittedly I was a little irritated because I felt like I had politely let the guy know I did not have time. And I found it interesting that he wanted me to drop everything because he needed to finish his work today. What about my work?)

Him: I work for (company name) sanitation and we are trying to consolidate your neighborhood and I need to talk to you about switching to our company.

Me: I switched to your company some time ago (and pointed to the large trash can with his company logo and name on  it just a few steps from us.)

Him: um…okay, well how is it working?

Me: Fine

With that, he walked off, he did not say thank you, nor  did he make a notation on his bright turquoise clipboard.As I returned to my work, I replayed what had just happened in my own mind. And several questions came to mind, and I cannot seem to let them go. How come this guy did not know I was a customer?  Did his company send him into a neighborhood, that has clearly marked no soliciting rules, to visit every home? Is that a good strategy? Why was it more important to this company to interrupt my work to solicit me?

My interaction with the company rep on Saturday did absolutely nothing to improve my brand loyalty. And while I may not move my business yet,I’m disappointed that he did not know I was a customer. Would it have been that difficult for that company to have equipped their representative with a list of current customers?

Sadly, this is not the first incident of this type I had this week. Yes…as hard as it is to believe I was solicited earlier in the week by another service provider that I already use. In both incidents, I should be in the company database as a customer. So unless their employer is paying them by the number of people they disturb, from an efficiency perspective alone, wouldn’t it make more sense to knock on the doors of the people who are not your customer? Do their departments talk to each other?

However, I think most importantly, companies should recognize that every interaction with their brand is an important one. Every interaction is an opportunity to build loyalty, evangelists, and yes even detractors. In both of these interactions last week, the only thing either rep cared about was their agenda. That left me with a less than warm feeling about their brand. In either situation, if the rep had said something like: “awesome, you are a customer!” I probably would not be writing this post. Both of these companies missed out on opportunities, not just with me, but the entire neighborhood. (Other neighbors have also expressed some frustration.) I think both could reap greater rewards if our neighborhood was all a buzz about their fantastic service.

The big lesson here is that your customer database is filled with goodness, make a note of every interaction. Remember any one who comes in contact with the public, is the face of your brand. If cold calling is a part of your sales strategy make sure your customers are clearly identified and not mistaken for a prospect. Don’t risk losing a customer, because you do not know they are already are one.

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