Monday, March 17, 2008

Good Customers versus Nice Customers - Which One is Loyal?

This is just a short blog to document the obvious. When I am reminded of some of the naivete in our market place, I feel an obligation to repeat what many of us know but the newbees or the unthinking have not discovered. In this instance my concern is the apparent lack of understanding between what is a "good customer" and what is a "nice customer."

A "good customer" is the kind of customer every business wants. This is the customer that pays attention to the quality and performance of the product, the service of the product and the way problems are handled. That customer will also pay attention to the way the company conducts its business. What makes this customer a "good customer" is that this customer is willing to tell the company when the company does something that bothers, offends or in some way is affecting the relationship in a negative manner. This customer has the possibility of being both a very loyal customer but is, in any case, the ABSOLUTE BEST consultant the company could ever get - and it costs nothing. I often tell my clients that their customers are the best consultants they can get. All a company has to do is provide an atmosphere of openness and be able to listen accurately and respectfully to the customer at all times and under ALL CONDITIONS.

A "nice customer" on the other hand is one who will never cause the company a problem. This customer never complains to the company. This customer does not need a customer complaint department because this customer will never file a complaint. This customer just says thank you and then DISAPPEARS and never comes back whan any kind of a probelm or concern occurs. You will never know that a problem or concern occurred with the customer. You never know why they left! BUT, these same customers will be more than willing to give negative comments to friends and business associates without telling the company. These "nice customers" can absolutely destroy a business.

The bottom line is that every company should do its best to create "good customers" and eliminate the possibility of a customer becoming a "nice customer." That means companies should create an atmosphere of openness that encourages customers to tell them their problems. This sounds like a simple customer survey challenge - BUT IT IS NOT. The details of how to do this is a topic for a future blog.

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