When putting in the time and energy trying to reach out to new consumers, it’s very easy to forget about the ones you already have. That is not, however, an excuse to do it.

As crucial as it is for businesses to reach out to new consumers – especially today – it is just as important to retain current customers. The reason is painfully simple: If a business gains one consumer in a day but loses another in the same timeframe, that business has accomplished exactly zero for all the time, energy and resources it spent. If that one customer was lost because of a lack of service, this business is in even worse shape as they’ve wasted a day AND given themselves a bad name. It’s either horrifying or laughable (or both) that companies, especially large ones, do not do the math on this issue. Whether you call it customer service or relationships, it must be a priority for any business today.

I had the opportunity to see what this looks like in action when I met Gary Vaynerchuk this past Monday at Wine Library, his family’s wine shop in Springfield, New Jersey. Gary is notorious for many things – among them: his seemingly innate social media savvy, his high energy, his colorful language when presenting, and perhaps most importantly, his commitment to his viewers. Boston-based wine blogger and true gentleman, Dale Cruse, and I stopped by Wine Library to say hello and watch a few episodes being taped. After some visiting, Gary and Chris Mott were ready to tape. The camera had JUST turned on when it was announced that a group of students had come by to ask Gary some questions. He immediately stopped the camera, brought them up to his office, introduced himself, gave them some free stuff and invited them to watch the taping.

Gary Vaynerchuk & Kermit Lynch taping

Gary Vaynerchuk, Kermit Lynch and Chris Mott at a taping of Wine Library TV.

At the end of the taping, the students explained that that the teacher of their local marketing & business course used Gary’s book CRUSH IT as a textbook, and they were getting extra credit by coming to see him. Gary went through one by one and began answering questions. About halfway through, Kermit Lynch arrived to tape his episode on Wine Library TV. Gary waved him into the room, explained that the class was here to ask some questions, and very nicely invited Kermit to sit and join. He then continued to answer the students’ questions.

Let’s replay that. Gary took time out of his day to meet with the group so they could get extra credit. When Kermit Lynch arrived in the middle of this, he did not cut his time with the students short, but rather invited Kermit into the room and explained what he was doing so he could continue with his viewers.

Those are priorities. Oh, and I’m pretty sure all of those students will walk out bragging that they met Gary and how cool he was, etc. – and everyone knows that when millennials brag, we like to do it where hundreds or thousands of people can see it… like facebook or twitter. (Though when we complain, we do it publicly as well. That’s another topic for another time…)

Take a moment to apply a situation like this to your own business day. Maybe you have a customer on the phone gushing about how amazing your wine was with the roast she made last night.  Now imagine that a big buyer, or your boss, or a prospective account walked into the room at that moment. What would you do? Be honest. Most people naturally would kick the customer to the proverbial curb.

If you would hurriedly wrap up the call in order to deal with the “bigger” business at hand, it’s time to reprioritize. I’m not saying to stay on the phone for exactly 5 more minutes or to disrespect your buyer/boss/prospective account. What I AM saying is that your business brain should automatically categorize your time with customers as JUST AS IMPORTANT as your time with your buyer/boss/prospective account.

By making sure your priorities are in order with your current customers, you’ll ensure that all of your outreach will be more effective for your business at the end of the day. After all, those customers are the reason you get a paycheck in the first place. Remember that.

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