We have some friends who only call us when they want something. Lorraine (my wife) and I were discussing this the other day.

We have become tired of phoning them and asking them out to places but them never phoning us. I guess this really tells us what they think about us! We have come to the conclusion they aren’t really friends. If we have to make all the effort it doesn’t feel like it’s a productive, equal, fruitful relationship. It’s now all too much hassle and we feel disenchanted so, sadly, we now don’t bother with them. I am sure we all have friends like that.

Why am I telling you this story? I have just had a call from the British charity RSPCA, (Royal Protection of Cruelty to Animals), to whom we contribute each month. My reaction to the phone call was similar to the one I have when our ‘friends’ call.

They started off by saying how much they appreciated our regular donation, and how many animals they have saved. But all the time as they were talking I was thinking ….”yeah yeah yeah , any minute now you are going to ask me for more money”. After the call I reflected on how I felt. I felt disenchanted. I donate money regularly and the only call I get from them is asking for money – they only contact me when they want something!

I recently wrote a blog about Stephen Covey’s concept of an emotional bank account. When I get calls like this from my ‘friend’ and from organizations they are making a withdrawal from my ‘emotional bank account’. When the account is at zero they go into overdraft and I wonder why I deal with them.

It seems most B2C organizations rarely invest in a relationship with Customers. I believe organizations, especially charitable ones, should just call me and say thanks and tell me how much they appreciate my custom/contribution and do nothing else on the call. This would make deposits into my emotional bank account. Then when they phone me and ask for more money, tell me the prices have gone up, or about a great deal they have I may listen to them a little longer and thus improve Customer retention. Give it a go and let me know of your success…

Colin Shaw, When friends are too much like hard work: An insight on Customer retention

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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