Importance of Customer Retention
The relationship of a company with its customers significantly affects every part of the business. Specific customer needs, for instance, often change the main course of the firm and influence its marketing, customer service and sometimes even production (Bai & Yafeng 2016). Thus customer retention is also essential for the business as it allows companies to expand and become more stable in their operations.
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The standard description of a customer lifecycle includes three periods such as introduction to the product, interest in the product and repeated use of the product. In this case, the focus on retention is present only in the last part of the cycle, as customers are already used to the company’s goods and services. However, many scholars argue that client-oriented strategies should consider all parts of the lifecycle and encourage customer retention from the very beginning.
It is important to emphasise the role of the customer in the first stage of the lifecycle. When customers are introduced to the product, a well-calculated welcoming approach may bring the best results. For example, Ascarza et al. (2016) note that customers do not need to be targeted right after their acquisition. However, the company should start thinking about retention during that period. The process of a customer entering a particular market may shape his or her experience with the industry as a whole. Therefore, making sure that clients are satisfied with their choices from the start may significantly improve their retention rates.
The strategy of a telecommunications company, in this situation, would be to ensure that new customers choose the most suitable plan from the beginning (Ascarza et al. 2016). The customer does not think about looking for other options as he or she is presented with the best one. Thus retention strategies are vital at the beginning of a company-client relationship.
The next period of the customer lifecycle usually includes tactics focused on the process of growing a client base. However, this step should also include already existing customers and make sure that they stay with the company as well. Here, the firm should target consumers who may show some signs of being dissatisfied. Although these clients do not openly announce their decision to switch to a different product, it is clear that the company’s inaction on this stage can lead to losing the customer base.
The company should try to anticipate the unmet needs of its clients and improve its performance accordingly. Hamilton, Rust and Dev (2017) argue that adding new features and services may help companies to retain their customers. As clients get used to the same number of options from one provider, they may become dissatisfied with the lack of change. Thus new campaigns and products may entice them to continue using different services of the same company rather than pursuing other options.
On the other hand, an incorrect strategy can adversely affect customer retention. Being too active, for instance, may frustrate clients and turn them away. Adding many features constantly, contacting clients too often or actively promoting new products to customers that do not want them can encourage people to leave the company. Thus the decisions connected to the firm’s retention strategy should be considered from this point of view as well.
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The company should strive to find the balance in the way it interacts with clients. Furthermore, proactive timing should consider customers who are at risk of churning. The company should evaluate its clients and predict whether some groups can be retained as a result. This step may help the business to prevent consumers from churning and reduce the possibility of dissatisfaction.
The last stage of the customer lifecycle deals with keeping the client base stable. This period usually deals with satisfied consumers that want to continue using the company’s services. However, it may also include negotiations with individuals who want to stop using the firm’s products and search for other options. Here, it is necessary to assess the state in which the consumers exist. Some customers can be in the act of churning and can be turned over, while others may only be considering other products.
Although it is possible to win clients back, it is much more beneficial for the business if they never leave (Ascarza et al. 2016). Retention strategies should have long and short-term goals for this particular reason as consumers may grow dissatisfied repeatedly. All in all, a thought-out retention strategy may help the company to grow and maintain its clientele on all stages of the customer lifecycle.
Developing a Customer Contact Plan
To keep the customers interested in the company’s products and grow the client base continuously, businesses need to establish contact with both existing and prospective clients. Creating a customer contact plan requires a firm to consider its possible options of interaction. A telecommunications firm, in this case, has its benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, this type of company has an extensive reach to one’s mobile and computer data, which can significantly simplify the process of contact as clients leave their phone numbers and email addresses for the business to keep in touch. On the other hand, the industry is highly competitive and filled with special offers and plans (Hu, Shu & Qiao 2014).
Moreover, the spread of such companies implies that they often need to consider the differences between countries and their separate markets. Thus the process of developing a customer contact plan should incorporate all these details.
First of all, it is necessary to assess the individuals with which the company interacts. The firm can divide them into multiple groups according to their current relationship, activity, demographics and interests (Bai & Yafeng 2016). For instance, one can distinguish between existing customers, prospective clients, prior customers and useful contacts. Alternatively, the classification may include loyal clients, consistent but inactive consumers, underperforming groups, customers who seek new products and interested individuals.
The final system of clientele should be able to show which groups the company has to prioritise in order to keep the clients invested in the processes of the business, while not trying to reach out to the customers too frequently. This action may reveal the way people find information about the business in the first place. For instance, the European telecommunications market is highly developed, and the spread of the internet influences the ways people search for new information (Parcu & Silvestri 2014). This data can be used to create the best channels for interaction.
After examining the most utilised services for communication with customers, the company needs to establish the time and frequency of contact. It is vital for the business to reach its customers at the right time. Some firms make the mistake of interacting with their clients only when problems arise, and they need to be solved with the consumers’ help. This reactive communication does not help businesses to establish a trusting bond with their clients.
On the contrary, overwhelming customers with information and requests for participation may discourage them from interacting with the company. Regular and consistent updates and interactions should not produce this effect. One can consider making a calendar for communicational purposes, and contact clients once in one or two months to deliver new information, share the most critical updates and inquire about the client’s satisfaction with the products. This type of communication shows a level of interest from the company and does not impose a frequent need for interaction on consumers.
To communicate with customers efficiently and cause each interaction to yield positive results, it is also crucial to consider the differences in the market conditions. For instance, Ghezzi, Cortimiglia and Frank (2015) examine the state of the Italian market of telecommunications and argue that while the rate of mobile subscriptions declines, data transmission and internet use are gaining more and more popularity.
Thus the developed markets of Europe are facing a shift in the industry, as continuous innovation pressures companies to change their offers and make plans fulfil customers’ growing needs. The authors state that Italian consumer demand is “mature and sophisticated” implying that customers are experienced in their interaction with businesses (Ghezzi, Cortimiglia & Frank 2015, p. 350). Thus the companies operating on this territory should keep in mind that their client base has higher expectations for customer service and most likely needs an attentive approach. Moreover, the authors note that the European market is highly-developed, and clients are aware of the best prices and products.
A proper customer contact plan should invite consumer participation and be active but not intrusive. The highly developed industry of telecommunications in Europe, for instance, shows that customers have high demands and expectations as they are well-informed about the most beneficial products. Such factors as people’s preferred types of interaction, interest areas and desire to communicate should be accounted for during the process of plan development. Furthermore, firms should think about the frequency of contacts and the specific contents of their discussions. In the end, a contact plan that provides clients with timely, concise and relevant information should encourage customer retention.
Ascarza, E, Neslin, SA, Netzer, O, Anderson, Z, Fader, PS, Gupta, S, Hardie, BG, Lemmens, A, Libai, B, Neal, D & Provost, F 2016, In pursuit of enhanced customer retention management: review, key issues, and future directions. Web.
Bai, F & Yafeng, Q 2016, ‘The implementation of relationship marketing and CRM: how to become a customer-focused organization’, Journal of Business & Economic Policy, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 112-124.
Ghezzi, A, Cortimiglia, MN & Frank, AG 2015, ‘Strategy and business model design in dynamic telecommunications industries: a study on Italian mobile network operators’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 90, pp. 346-354.
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Hamilton, RW, Rust, RT & Dev, CS 2017, ‘Which features increase customer retention?’ MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 79-84.
Hu, C, Shu, H & Qiao, X 2014, ‘Customer segmentation model research based on organizational customer life cycle in telecom operator’, in 2014 International conference on education technology and social science, Atlantis Press, Xi’an, pp. 408-414.
Parcu, PL & Silvestri, V 2014, ‘Electronic communications regulation in Europe: an overview of past and future problems’, Utilities Policy, vol. 31, pp.246-255.