Get prepared to hear the truth!

What typically happens is—you put in the effort, find a customer, give them a tailored experience, make a fabulous sale, earn an incentive, at best get rewarded.

And then what?


Time settles down, your brilliant sale is behind you and the attention is back at the present moment, i.e. finding fresh leads.

A perfect story, but without a happily ever after ending!

Ever wondered about the cause behind a perennial scarcity of clients? One of the reasons in most organizations, is the lack of maintaining relationships with former customers.
Here, we explore why reviving associations with them should be a must.

1) Walking the Distance all over again is COSTLY!


Marketing is always easier said than done, going through the same rigmarole of attracting new clients comes at a price. Econsultancy Responsys Cross Channel marketing Report quotes, “it is cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones.” Around 70% of respondents accept it.

Why do you think companies like Zappos invest in service?

Considering you had offered customers a good deal, served them well, there’s no reason why your past customers shouldn’t return to you. Besides, every customer has a Customer lifetime value, ignoring which can be quite expensive.

Author Lon Safko, while scrutinizing the cost of customer acquisition, points out the mistakes today’s marketers make while planning their marketing spend.

Remember, it’s always more convenient for customers to forget you, than vice-versa.

2) Returning Clients earn you a ‘Reputation’and builds your Brand!


The rule is to know your customers well and make it clear to them that you want them back. Micah Solomon, the author of Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization, writes that hotel chain Ritz Carlton is built on the foundation of outstanding customer service. Their motto is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Customers have shared personal accounts, where Ritz Carlton’s staffers have made their stay happier by going an extra mile. It has imparted the hotel an enviable reputation.

Returning clients play a big role in turning you into a brand. They return to you because they’ve seen through the clutter and made a choice to stick with you.

Letting them slip by is not just a monetary loss, you lose a brand ambassador of your services. This is as true for your local car spare parts dealer as it is for a big business.

3) Business Growth, Recommendations, Referrals!

Growth is not just a spin-off of preserving relationships. Maintaining relationships truly begets growth. With widespread Internet access, customers are increasingly depending on user reviews before taking a buying decision. Surveys claim that 90% of customer decisions are influenced by online reviews. Imagine what great customer service and relationship could do for your business in such a connected environment?

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On the other hand, Nielsen’s report states that despite a plethora of information surrounding us today, 84% individuals still depend on good old word-of-mouth recommendation from friends and family.

Referrals are powerful as they come from a genuine source. Big firms take referrals very seriously. Many of them rely on NPS (Net Promoter Score), which is the measure of the likeliness of a customer recommending a product, service or a business to a friend or coworker.

4) Advantage for the long term, even in a Downturn!

Even when times are good, maintaining relationships won’t let your clients stray, but it’s especially beneficial in a recession.

Tough economic environments lays bare the difference between companies which place customers first and those that let go of their loyalty for short term gains.

Maintaining ties with existing customers even in tough times, gives you a clear edge over others. And there are more than one ways of doing it.

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), started cross-training its call center representatives back in 2007, so that 60% of its agents who answered investment queries could respond to insurance calls too. Because of it, even an avalanche of callers (during hurricane Ike and the stock market crisis of 2008) could not deter the call center department of USAA. This only strengthened their customer relationship.

Final Thoughts

There’s a thin line between Customer and client. A client is a steady customer.

No wonder, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has become highly significant for Small businesses today. Salesforce research claims CRM can increase sales by 29%.

Jeff Bezos once said, “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

It is quite surprising how most salespeople overlook inactive customers in their frenzied efforts to make new sales. Maintaining relationships bring you in front of the customer, separating you from the chaff.

Besides, as most salespeople would agree, your sales results are only as good as your relationships!