Are The Waters Safe?


Swimming With The Sharks?

Sometimes I lose clients to competitors.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes I can’t help but take it a little bit personal, like I didn’t do enough to keep them satisfied.  Logically, of course I know that it’s a part of business and I also know that I rank in the top 5% for retention rates in the industry.

The truth is, every one of my customers is inundated with calls from hundreds of competitors.  I know it’s a barrage of calls, mailers, door knockers, emails, online offers and so on.  There are endless enticing promises of savings and special offers as well as subterfuge all aimed at getting my customers to leave for greener pastures.  I also know that some of the merchant services salesmen out there are darn good talkers and very convincing!  I’ve also seen many written proposals and ‘savings analysis’ that were presented to merchants that are some of the prettiest pieces of fiction and fuzzy math you’ll see outside of a congressional budget hearing.

With so many competitors pounding on the doors, I am very grateful at the loyalty so many of my customers have shown me.  I like to believe that they see me as a friend they can count on more than just a merchant services provider.  I also don’t begrudge a customer that does leave, and nothing feels better than to have them return when they find the grass isn’t greener.

Last month I had a client return to me after using a competitor for a couple years.  It really wasn’t his fault that he was duped into leaving.  When he changed banks, the new bank introduced their bank card representative that was with their approved processing company.  Under this guise of credibility and creative math, the merchant was led to believe that he would see savings every month.  What he got was:

1)     A non cancellable 48 month lease on processing equipment at $69 a month.  Before he’d left (and after he returned), we provided him with a no strings, free terminal!

2)     A $60 a month gift card program that was not only unnecessary but they never even got it working for him!  When they tried to surprise him with an extra $250 in fees, he tried to cancel and they wouldn’t let him!

3)     Despite promises of huge monthly savings on the processing portion, upon returning  found that he had actually been over paying with them to the tune of $50 a month!

4)    Possible an Early Termination Fee on his merchant services contract.  How long and how much is impossible to tell, because they never gave him the contract with those details!

He contacted me for my assistance last month when he left the bank that had referred that merchant services provider.  It’s worth mentioning that although a bank can attempt to coerce a business to utilize their recommended service provider, they cannot require that as a prerequisite to their other banking services.

I really like this customer and I was glad to have him back.  I just wish he would have talked to me before he’d made the decision to leave in the first place, and I could have saved him the loss of thousands of dollars and a lot of hassles.  The sad part is, it’s not an isolated incident.  So many times I’ve seen this happen, and I know it’s just the tip of the iceberg where most customers would be too embarrassed to come back or let me know that switching was a bad idea.

I guess if there’s one thing I’d like to impress upon my customers is, just talk to me and I’ll understand.  If you are a customer of mine and about to leave, it’s probably because of one of two reasons.  Either someone is promising a better rate or we haven’t made you feel appreciated and/or met your needs.

If it’s about the rate, I’m always happy to re-evaluate an account.  Because I don’t utilize ‘hook – rates’ like many competitors, often I can find ways to lower processing fees.  Also I can always work hard to get our processor to price-match legitimate offers.  If you are a customer of mine and are looking for a change because you aren’t feeling appreciated, then I am truly sorry if I’ve failed to express how much you and your business mean to me.   My clients are the most important thing to me, and the reason why I love this business.  I take pride in the relationships I have with my customers and always enjoy talking and sharing with them.

If a customer chooses to leave for whatever reason, it’s critical to talk to me before making a contract signing mistake with a competitor in order to avoid costly early termination fees.  If a customer approaches me in advance, I may be able to help avoid a nightmare, such as above,  and also I may offer a better solution.  If I’m truly unable to help, at least I can go to bat and help make the transition process as painless as possible, and also advocate waiving any type of closing fees.  In the end, I will always let my clients know I value them and their business, so come or go, they are always welcome at Cornerstone Business Solutions!

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  1. Great stuff here Robert. I wrote a post a while back called, “You Get What You Pay For” and this has a similar theme. It’s good to know there are good people in your industry who work for the customer. Thanks for posting.

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