Your existing customers are the number one asset you have. Here’s a story about a company that never figured that out: my first Internet service provider.

An Internet Business Tale of Woe

The Internet service provider I had for my website did a very nice job of Web hosting for a long time. I never had to think about it, because the site always worked the way it was supposed to. But they started to have problems, and my entire website went down several times for two or three days.

I talked to my account rep, who apologized for the inconvenience and said he would help. But the problems didn’t go away, so I decided to go above him. I sent the president some very irate e-mails. The only response: a voice mail from the same account rep, who again offered to help.

Meanwhile, I started getting direct-mail pieces from the company, inviting me to use their Web hosting services. Clearly, whoever sent those pieces did not know I was already an unhappy customer.

That infuriated me. I finally called the company, closed my account, and dealt with the hassle of switching to a new ISP.

Still, the direct-mail pieces kept coming. (And, by the way, they guaranteed “99.9% uptime” — which, based on my experience, was a blatant lie.)

Not only that but, though I’d closed my account, they continued to try to draft my credit card for $50 per month. It took more e-mails and phone calls to straighten that out! And I still get mail from them every few months.

Every time I see something from them in my inbox, it makes me mad. And I swear I will never, ever do business with them again.

Now here’s a company with good (though somewhat dishonest) advertising that doesn’t know how to keep a customer happy. They only know how to replace angry customers with ignorant ones.

Very, very dumb. And very expensive. Clearly, it would cost them a lot less money to do a good job for their existing customers than to acquire new ones, set them up, give them Web addresses and passwords, and transfer their files.

Don’t Let This Happen to You

You can’t afford to lose a customer, especially over incompetence and apathy.

Common sense should tell you how to treat your customers — but it’s still worth saying here. Take good care of them. Maintain a personal relationship with them. If you do a bad job of this, the best marketing in the world won’t keep you in business.

And in your rush to get new customers, don’t forget that most of your existing customers are unaware of your entire range of products and services. Old customers can be new customers too. So make sure you keep them up to date on your whole sales story.

[Ed. Note: Perry Marshall was just one of a dozen+ experts at this year’s Info-Marketing Bootcamp, the conference we hold every November.

In fact, it’s going on right now!

As we do every year, we invited the top Internet marketing experts and business builders to help us “pull back the curtain” on how to create a life-changing Internet business. And even if you couldn’t make it this year, you can still watch every single presentation… at a fraction of the price attendees paid.]

And check out Perry’s free e-mail course, “9 Great Lies of Sales and Marketing,” where he takes on some of the most beloved “sacred cows” in sales and marketing.]