Long Term Customer Relationships

The other day, someone asked the question, "How do you keep long term relationship with your customers?"  I responded by saying that I once heard a joke where after 50 years of marriage, a wife said to her husband, "We've been married 50 years, and I can't remember the last time you told me you love me". The husband replied, "I told you 'I love you' the day we got married. If anything changes, I'll let you know."

Unfortunately, that's how many companies deal with their customers. "Thanks for buying, see you later". The key to customer retention is communication. To communicate effectively, companies should develop a strategy. Yes, it sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how often this eludes many companies. 

So, what does this strategy entail?  First, decide which customers with whom you want to develop relationships (let's face it, not all customers are worth keeping). Then, segment the customer list: Top customers; Good Customers; Other customers. From there, develop your communications schedule for each segment. The "Top" list should receive more personalized, high touch communications. The lower levels can receive more "mass" communication. Vary communications messages. Balance "sales" messages with useful content. Also, integrate multiple methodologies: email, phone, sales call,etc. Finally, once the plan is developed, determine what resources (technology, call centers, etc.) will help to enhance the process. Doing this effectively will allow you to develop those long term relationships, and keep your company "top-of-mind" with your customer.