Existing customers are the most important asset of a business and retaining and extending your share of their wallet is the most valuable action that can be taken by a business. In this article Steve Downton discusses changing attitudes towards Customer Relationship Management, away from the traditional but outdated capture and utilisation of information about a customer and move towards guiding and directing a customer towards a trusting relationship to the benefit of both parties.
Fully supported service, through the right systems, is no longer an afterthought; instead it provides the cornerstone of the business strategy, providing long-lasting differentiation in the currently extremely competitive environment. This environment now and for the foreseeable future has the consumer holding sway, or to use a colloquialism - it is a buyers’ market! This has come about through customers being much more aware of what they can expect and demand from their supplier, and the willingness of suppliers to accept and deliver to those demands in order to win business. The internet has created availability, and global interaction has reduced the barriers to switching supplier, so retaining customers is about keeping aware of their changing needs and innovating as required, to respond to either spoken or un-spoken needs and provide a cost-effective, potentially unique solution, that will be highly valued and paid for. This apparently straightforward requirement recognises the need for information to guide and direct businesses into relationships that enable customer and supplier to perceive value in a customer-managed relationship. This process also has the added value of creating loyal, satisfied customers prepared to provide promotion and referral for the supplier, with potential new customers.