Or, how your customer communications can dilute your brand...
I was pretty sure this sad day would eventually arrive -- when Bizsmart closed down their free chequing for small businesses. I got the notice today. I have three months to find a new bank.
Bizsmart was always a subsidiary of CIBC, so of course this notice letter suggests I go move my account there, referencing the main home page and 800 number as a source of information.
Of course, moving my account to CIBC will likely be as much work as moving it to a competitor. So I think I may shop around. Here are a few of the things your Customer Experience Counselor would suggest could have been done here:
1. Give the customer some incentive to move to the preferred option.
How about a free i-Pod, a promotion one of the competitor banks here just wrapped up? A preferred pricing offer. Free cheques. A ball cap, for goodness' sake. Free coffee at the branch. Anything at all.
2. Show some appreciation to build some goodwill.
Is it the customers' fault you couldn't figure out how to make money this way? You should still say thank you. If you don't, what will they think about your main brand, and why should they continue to give you their business?
3. At least make it easy for your customers to move.
Suggest which branch would be best. Provide a name and phone number for the nearest location. How about a special 800 line for switchers, set up to help facilitate the move?
How about a landing page on the CIBC web site that provides some targeted support and links to critical information on the CIBC site. It could also have FAQs.
First among those FAQs should be something about those online government payments -- a service which I truly love and cherish. (Does anyone else have this? Does CIBC have this? That could make a critical difference. Even my bookkeeper thinks this is a cool service.)
How about helping customers move all their online payments at the same time, to save them some hassle?
Would you consider transferring some of the paperwork? Or do I have to get yet another banking resolution? (My lawyer thanks you.)
Issuing a bare notification letter when you are making a big customer change has the advantage of clarity. But no matter what is happening, make sure it's brand accretive*. You just never know who might blog on this stuff, do you?
Given the marketing effort expended on obtaining new customers generally, be sure you don't care before you act like you don't care. After all, just like Mom told you, it doesn't cost anything to be nice.
* Is it Brand Accretive or Brand Dilutive?
Investment bankers and their pals talk about merger and acquisition opportunities as "earnings accretive", when they mean it improves earnings per share, and "dilutive", when it damages earnings per share. There's a good definition here.
We need to think about all communications as brand accretive or brand dilutive -- do they add lustre to the brand or not?
I had hoped this phrase came from me first, but unfortuntately I see three references to this term on Google.
Update September 1, 2006: My other business got the "good customer" letter after I wrote this. Read the followup item here.