Some Customers Are More Equal Than Others

A friend recommended I speak with his college roommate, Sam*, about how Sam’s company handles customer appreciation. By all outside perceptions, Sam’s company fell exactly within the demographics of an ideal Zen Rabbit client.

But after just a couple of minutes on the phone, it was clear that Sam is currently working in contraction and fear mode, you know, because of the economy. Futhermore, Sam didn’t seem to understand the lifetime value of his clients.

I pointed out to him that even though he said he has thousands of clients, he’s likely getting 80% of his business from 20% of them. He agreed. Then I mentioned that he should be focusing his efforts on keeping those 20% really happy. That’s where he got a little fuzzy. Even though he “knows that,” he still wants to keep ALL his clients happy and not play favorites.

Hey, I can understand wanting to keep everyone happy, but like in the classic book “Animal Farm,” some customers are more equal than others. That’s just how it is. Some clients are more valuable than others. And you would do well to focus on and cater more to those 20% who bring you the most valuable business.

Sam admitted that he does not have a plan for consistently showing appreciation for his best customers. But he doesn’t quite believe that it would be worth the effort. I got the impression that he prefers to “fly by the seat of his pants” in that regard. It depends on whether there is money left over for it at the end of the month. It’s an afterthought.

But what if Sam DID believe in the power of saying thank you to his clients? What could his business look like then? I know for sure that his company would be a lot stronger, that he wouldn’t be so afraid of what’s going on in “the economy.” That he wouldn’t have to compete on price. Too bad Sam’s not ready for that message yet. Are you?

*names have been changed to protect friendships.

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