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"customers pay, prospects don't"... The longer customers stay onboard, the deeper their interaction with SP, the better the relationship is, the higher will Return On Investments be..."
Rudy Nadler-Nir
Featured Article
by Rudy Nadler-Nir

SPcide: the art of reverse-euthanasia

This is a true story. A travel agent was asked to deliver air tickets to my office. None arrived - so I contacted the agent, who said that the courier had been sent to make the delivery, but couldn't hand over my tickets because no one's

ever heard of the company I'm working for.

Even though they weren't the usual agents we use, couldn't one can assume that, unless they spent the last 40-odd years on retreat in Irkutsks or Vladivostok, they'd have heard of O&M?

In a single stroke, these people have annihilated the proud history, the legacy, the very identity of Ogilvy & Mather and - in the

process - annihilated me as well.

I simply did not exist! -- When the tickets eventually arrived, I looked at the delivery voucher and found them addressed as follows:

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Mr R. Nadler-Nir
Ogelaousen Metro

The penny dropped.
This is one of the cases filed under the misnomer "computer error", which is very much like claiming that you ran over someone's dog because of a "motor vehicle error".

Basically, they got my details wrong; they never checked the information in their database for errors; and, when the courier returned without having delivered the goods, they never bothered to try to rectify the error.

Needless to say, they will not have my business ever again. Why? Because, as a customer, I have the enjoyable prerogative to change my service provider (SP) whenever I want.
To the best of my knowledge, SPcide is the only legal form of euthanasia in our system.

Only in this case, it's reverse-euthanasia: customers "kill" the SP to end their own sufferings.

Sometimes, the first thing a customer sees when receiving our communication is her name and address printed on the envelope.

If any of these is wrong, the customer will most likely trash our communication immediately - if we want her business we should at least get her name right!

This is another take on the themes of proximity and presence (see my article "Using distant knowledge: Part Two - Tell him I sent you").

You can schmooze forever and a day; offer designer t-shirts and beer mugs, pens and calendars; you can send viral payloads by the ton; yet once you've called someone "Daniel" when his name is Albert, the game is over.

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Once you've sent Agnes Jones an email identifying her as "a male executive",'ve crushed the trust between you and the customer by making it very plain how little you know about him or her,...

...all previous rules of engagement are null and void, and you're toast: another victim of SPcide.


Here are some of the main causes
of Spcide and what you can do about it:

1. Investing more in acquisition than in retention. You know the strap-line - "customers pay, prospects don't". The longer customers stay onboard, the deeper their interaction with SP, the better the relationship is, the higher will Return On Investments be.

What you can do about it: Dig deep into your existing client base before you go out to get new clients.

There's nothing wrong with growing your client base, as long as you remember that you've already got customers - all ready to interact with your brand and buy your product or service.

2. Letting service standards lag behind, or drop. This is lethal. Service is the currency of our relationship with customers.

Fatalities occur when customers feel that the quality of service they get is deteriorating, or that the service is not good value for money.

What you can do about it: Keep a tight grip on the pulse of things. Do you have a solid feedback facility? Will you get reports on trends regarding your customer's satisfaction or lack thereof?

Do you have a system that acknowledges complaints and queries, then initiates a "To do" list for internal usage? Depending on the size of your operation and market, note that such a system may consist of a service person with access to email, phone and fax.




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3. Losing control of your database, mailing list, address book. Your knowledge base is your navigation tool. Let its relevance decline and your life expectancy as SP could follow suit.

What you can do about it: Check the veracity of the information you've got. Offer incentives to clients who update their information on your files.


4. Suffering from perception attrition. Research shows that about 70% of attrition comes because customers feel that companies don't care.

What you can do about it: Positive perception is bolstered through communications. Some of the best features of your product or service may be well-hidden secrets. Did you win a best-service award? Was your product selected as best of its kind? Then let your customers know this. Make them proud to use your product!


5. Being short on emotions. A brand, we believe, is the sum-total of the various ways people feel about your product. It is, therefore, an emotional relationship. Are you doing your best to support this relationship?

What you can do about it: Remember - we're talking a relationship here, don't forget your manners. Did you have a service problem? Always acknowledge and apologise before customers complain.

Be attuned to customers' life cycles, events and circumstances. The importance of contact-strategy should not be underestimated. Use surveys to prove your strategy right, or to hear what customers have to say.


Rudy Nadler-Nir is an independent e-strategist and Brain-for-Rent. Check Rudy's personal Website, at: or email him at: rudyn @ All Copyrights (C) reserved, Rudy Nadler-Nir, 2000-2001.