Understanding your customers

I recently switched my domestic gas and electricity supplier from E.O.N. to Sainsburys. I had been quite happy with E.O.N. for some years and had no inclination to change. That was until two months ago when E.O.N. increased their prices and upped my monthly direct debit by £50.

A quick online comparison search revealed a number of cheaper options and I made the switch. My monthly direct debit is now back down to where it was before.

Not long after I signed up to Sainsburys I received a pleasant letter from E.O.N. saying that they were sorry I was leaving and if I ever changed my mind then it would be easy to switch back. I fleetingly questioned why they hadn’t enquired as to why I was leaving but thought nothing further and put the letter in the fire.

EON marketingToday I received another letter from E.O.N. The opening line was as follows: “You may remember that we contacted you recently saying how sorry we are to learn you’re leaving E.O.N. As we haven’t heard from you, we’d like to remind you how easy it is for you to come back to us.” The letter then went on to illustrate the many reasons why I should go back to E.O.N. and ended with: “After all, we really don’t want to lose you.”

Yet the letter failed to address the fundamental reason why I left E.O.N. That E.O.N. is award winning or I could earn customer rewards is of no consequence when staying with E.O.N. would have cost me an extra £600 a year!

Given the differential in price it is unlikely that E.O.N. could have persuaded me to stay yet they could have had a much better stab at it if they’d asked why I was leaving in the first place.

This marketing communication was simply a complete waste of time and money.

Pondering it further I wonder if many of their customers are leaving due to price and rather than address this with a price reduction or enter into a price war they’re focusing on their benefits and trying to persuade people that way.

Regardless of the thinking behind this direct mail piece the outcome remains the same. E.O.N. did not seek to understand me and have lost me as a customer as a result. I don’t care about the ‘extra’ benefits, I only really care about the price and £600 a year spent on utilities is a big deal to me.

Understanding your customers is crucial to successful marketing. If you don’t understand your customers how can you possibly offer them a product or service that they want or need to buy?

P.S. Whilst writing this blog a man from E.O.N. came to read my meters! I told him I was in the middle of writing a blog about E.O.N. and his reply was: “Oh dear, is that good or bad?”.

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