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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's All in The Way You Package Things

Many companies try to sell additional products and services to their existing customer base.  This can be a great opportunity to strengthen an existing relationship, but if done wrong it can alienate great customers. 

Since buying my house a few years ago I have used the same lawn care service to fertilize my lawn, spray for weeds, and spray for insects.  I've always been satisfied with their services, and last spring when I hired them to trim my trees and bushes they did a wonderful job.  Despite these positive experiences they nearly lost my business.

Last summer I began receiving "up-sell" calls trying to get me to purchase extra treatments, weather-proofing, and whatever else they could offer.  The calls came regularly enough that I recognized the phone number when they called.  One day in November I received a call from a representative telling me about a new de-icing product they were offering as an alternative to rock salt.  The rep suggested that if I wanted to buy the product they could drop it off when they came out to winterize my lawn the following week.  I declined, and he thanked me anyway and said they would see me the following week.

A couple of minutes after the call I realized that I had been conned: I hadn't previously scheduled the treatment, and this guy just tricked me into accepting a service I didn't want!  I called the company's main number and canceled the treatment.  I told the woman who answered how angry I was that they tried to dupe me and that I wanted to cancel all of their services.  She apologized profusely and offered me a discount on my first few treatments next year if I would stay with the service.  She also assured me that they would put an end to the constant phone calls.  I grudgingly agreed and that was the end of it.

A few weeks ago I came home from work and found a package of ice-melter from the company with a note asking me to accept it as a thank you for being a customer.  I like that.  I just used it on my driveway last night, and if it works well enough I may consider purchasing some in the future.  It's nice to be treated like a customer rather than a target.
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