Stop Smacking Your Customers in the Face

Stop Smacking Your Customers in the Face

I was in a meeting recently when someone who was quiet for most of the discussion perked up and said:

“Our customers don’t want to hear from us regularly! They don’t want us calling or emailing or checking in with them. They’re busy people. They only want to hear from us when they’re ready to buy!”


One of the things I’ll be diving into detail about in my new book is a concept called The Appropriate Reason. The appropriate reason means that your messaging with your customers is always done with an appropriate reason at an appropriate time.

Too many companies don’t understand this concept and they reach out with inappropriate reasons at the wrong times. Communicating with the right message at the right times is like receiving a hug from a friend. Doing it at the wrong time is like being slapped across the face.

Here’s an example.

Lately, I’ve been railing on the ridiculousness of NPS surveys (Net Promoter Score). This is the classic one-question used by some of the largest companies in the world to gauge customer loyalty. The question, by the way, is “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”

Last week I got an email from a company asking me the question.

The problem?

I haven’t been a paying customer to this business in almost four years. In addition to that, I’ve also continued to get their customer-only newsletters.

All entirely inappropriate. Wrong message and wrong time.

So back to the guy that said their customers don’t want to hear from them. He’s totally wrong. The only reason happy customers don’t want to hear from you is when the subject matter or tone is inappropriate.

Loyalty and retention are about feeling and connection. You build that by continuously adding value, and not just reaching out when you’re hoping to sell something.

Here’re a few brief examples of the concept taken from real life (specifically, my real life).

I bought something from a business and never heard from them again. Six months later I got an email asking me to review my experience with the company. This is inappropriate. Wrong reason, and the wrong time. In this case, not following up might have annoyed me less.

In last week’s tidbit, I told you about the contractor stopping by to ask for a testimonial. Entirely appropriate. He had the right request at the right time.

Salespeople are typically guilty of having the wrong reach-out at the wrong time, but it’s often not their fault. They assume (and their compensation is structured based on the assumption) that once they’ve inked the deal, their work is done. They get their commissions, and they’ve moved on to find more new customers.

The care and nurturing of existing clients is someone else’s problem. I’ve said it before, if your sales and marketing people aren’t talking about what happens after the sale then they’re only doing 50% of their jobs.

Some companies even go so far as to have separate teams dedicated to customer loyalty or customer satisfaction, departments which rarely or never interact with the sales team. I cannot overstate how fundamentally flawed this practice is.

Repeat after me: The most important work you do is done after the first sale is made. The bulk of your efforts should be in the care and nurture of your clients.

You cannot do right by your clients if you’re reaching out at inappropriate times with the wrong messaging. And please, for the love of all that is holy in this world, never ever outsource the “satisfaction” of your clients to a department without a sales responsibility.

Here’s the challenge for this week: If you’ve ever used an NPS survey, bow your head and feel a few moments of shame before deciding to stop using them, and start doing some effective customer loyalty work.