Even some of the best organizations have this problem.  They’re great are selling, but they don’t view a new customer acquisition as the start of customer retention.  When the service representative asks Sales “What do we know about this new customer?”, the response is basically – name, rank, and…credit card number.  It’s the basic core facts that allow a sales transaction to occur, but it’s not the type of facts around which to build a relationship.

Begin with the End in Mind

I’m channeling my inner Stephen Covey here, but you want to Begin with the End in Mind.  The goal of a salesperson may be to close the deal, but the goal of most smart businesses is keeping your customers.  If we learned nothing else from the economic downturn, I hope we learned that customers cannot be taken for granted.  It’s so hard to get new customers, that we need to make it as easy on ourselves as possible to keep them.  The end goal is keeping and growing with that customer.

View Service and Retention Staff as Suppliers…

In order for Sales staff to most effectively help Service and Retention personnel in the relationship development and loyalty-building process, Sales needs to look at these other areas as suppliers.  The Service and Retention staff can supply Sales with a description of the types of information needed to best retain new customer acquisitions for the long-term.  Service can suggest typical retention drivers, examples of information that leads to dialogue from service staff to customers, and more personal or customer goal information as well.  Once Sales knows the types of information needed to build relationships and customer loyalty, they can build the acquisition of this information into the Sales process.

…Then View Customers as Suppliers

Once Sales knows what it takes to help Service and Retention staff to keep customers, then Sales can look at the customers themselves as suppliers…suppliers of the information needed to keep them.  For example, how important are perks and benefits to the sports season ticket holder?  How important is the relationship with a personal banker to the financial services client?  How important is timeliness of permit approval to a general contractor?  How important are webinars, tips, and training courses to a subscription software client?

To maximize probability of retention, build a process of loyalty-based information gathering into your customer acquisition process.