R U Fru?

Are You Frugal?  Have you changed your behavior?

The recession changed us.  So much of what we built financially over the previous decade was erased in just a couple of weeks.  IRA’s values were cut in half.  Jobs were lost.  Housing values were pummeled  and continue to struggle mightily.  Banks stopped lending and getting credit has become difficult to obtain.  Our global economy continues to pose significant challenges and our nations debt now exceeds $15 trillion dollars.  A huge number.

Did you know that last year our government borrower $41,000 per second?  Or that we owe China and Japan more than $2 trillion dollars?

Even though our government continues to pile on the debt, the American consumer has modified their behavior considerably.  Here are some awesome stats:

  • In 2010, we redeemed 3.3 billion coupons and saved $3.7 billion
  • Coupon usage has increase by 20% over the last 5 years
  • 30,000 daily deals are available on over 650 sites everyday
  • 1 in 6 Americans use daily deal sites regularly
  • Groupon and Living Social have 125MM subscribers
  • We drove over 3 trillion miles in 2010, less than we did in 2006
  • 44% more Americans shop at bulk grocery stores
  • 75% of grocery shoppers now use grocery lists to keep track of spending versus 45% in 2008
  • Savings rates are 4 times higher than 2005
  • Even if they won the lottery, 96% of people questioned would still use coupons

The infographics that include these statistics can be found at:

Thanks to the great infographic contributors at www.visual.ly (www.fxfatcat.com and rmmojado)

Americans have modified their behavior considerably based on the reality of our times.  Maybe our government will learn something from the people that elect them.

R U Fru? BFRU?

Enjoy the weekend.


Lifetime Value – Humbug!

Contracts were once sealed with a handshake.  People looked you in the eye and when they said something they meant it.  If they said they would put you in touch with another person, they did so and they did it promptly.  If they were to deliver you goods and services, they did it on time, for the money they said and with a smile.  They were interested in earning your trust and your business for the long term – these people understood the lifetime value of dealing with you as a customer.  They knew that word of mouth was the best possible marketing they could have.  Before there was Yelp and all of these other recommendation services that we have today, their was just good old word of mouth.

What the hell has happened to lifetime value and companies that actually do it in a meaningful way?  Apple does it, Amazon does it, many a local retailer does it.  But what about all of the other critical to your life – your bank, your insurance company, utility companies, cable companies, in-home service providers; the list is endless.  When was the last time you got off the phone with a customer service rep and said “Wow, that was a great experience, I cannot wait to tell someone about it”.  It just does not happen.

Here are two recent examples that I can provide that are just pathetic.  A friend of mine had a small accident.  She had been a customer of said insurance company for 15+ years.  When they checked her record they found that her premium was overdo.  They immediately cancelled the policy and wanted to charge her over $1,000 to re-instate the policy.  Well paying and profitable customer for 15 years and they want to charge her to re-instate the policy.  After many calls and complaints, she finally found someone that was empowered and could make the right decision.  The issue here of course is that she had to invest considerable time, energy and frustration to even find the person at the company who could do something about it.

More recently my own auto insurance company tries the following.  I was one day late on my November payment; all other payments had been made on time and I have been a customer of theirs for two years.  Last night I received a cancellation notice including a $25 cancellation fee stating that if I did not pay the next installment on time the policy would be cancelled.  What are the chances that I would even recommend this company to anyone?  Answer – ZERO!

I don’t know about you but when I tell someone I am going to do something I do it.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have received specific commitments from individuals to set up meetings with other individuals at their companies or to respond to a business proposal.  They said “I will set up a meeting on Thursday” or “I will get back to you on Monday”.  Guess what, it is now two weeks later and after multiple e-mails, phone calls and text messages, do you think I have heard from these people? NOPE!

What on earth is so hard in this connected society to just send a quick message and say “Change of plans, the meeting cannot happen until this date” or “I am sorry, we cannot proceed at this time”.  What ever happened to living up to your own personal commitments?  Doing what you say you are going to do?  Taking responsibility?  When did the basic principles  of relating to other people change?  Although we live in a “Me” society today, the “Me’s” have lost most of the basic relationship and customer service etiquette that the “We’s” expect.

Not good at all.

Please let me know what types of customer experiences you have had recently.  Share them in your comments.  I am hopeful that you have good and bad examples.

Enjoy the day.