To achieve better sales and profits, most companies could be doing more to cultivate business from their existing customers. However, enthusiasm for customer-retaining strategies must not endanger sound customer-getting efforts. How companies balance the two is the big question.
To intensify reaching old customers while still seeking new ones, for many firms, will mean changes in market analysis, planning systems, management incentives, and marketing and/or operations organization. In the rush toward growth, consumer marketers have tended to regard success as stemming from obtaining new customers while unwittingly minimizing the importance of satisfying old ones. It is time for more companies to distinguish between their getting and retaining functions, to assess the balance between them, and to remedy any deficiencies in customer retention. This process requires management to value the potential of current customers and to treat them in special ways to get them to keep coming back.
Several major elements should be part of the new marketing mix for customer retention:
Keeping customers frequently requires giving them more than the basic product that initially attracted them. Product extras for individual customers over time can play a sales-expansive role.
Product promotion works better when aimed at existing customers. If a marketer knows who these customers are, benefits can be obtained by giving them reinforcing communications.
Sales force connections
The sales force can play a decisive role in the customer-retention function. At a retail or service counter the salesperson is the focal point of the company’s strategy and is the firm to the customer.
A company must anticipate that some customers will encounter either minor or serious problems after purchasing. If the firm is not ready to hear and correct these difficulties, the customer may not repurchase or may cancel the the relationship. Whether company or customer is at fault, standby post-purchase activities can be instrumental in saving these customers.