One of the bi-products of our caffeine crazed, media blitzed economy is that we have virtually no attention span. It is as if we have a collective form of ADD. Over time, customers get bored with their vendors, alliance partners and trade associations. Client relationships have a natural tail.
The ability to continuously delight customers is a skill mastered by few. Clients need some type of stimuli that reinforces the value we provide them and it needs to come in different forms at different times. Variety is not just the spice of life; it is the remedy for overcoming the dreaded- inevitable customer fatigue.
Entertainers understand the element of surprise all too well. We all have a lot to learn from that ingenious management mind; Jerry Garcia. In the 60’s, the Grateful Dead had a Board of Directors and a call center. Whenever “the Dead” where touring, “Deadheads” who had gladly forked over their phone numbers would receive outreach about upcoming performances. The Deadheads would do something extraordinary; they would follow the band from city to city. As every show was an ad lib (jam), no two were alike, and no one knew what the Dead were going to play. Most businesses would kill to have the raving fans of the Dead.
The problem of customer fatigue is exacerbated by the fact that challengers are incented to barrage prospects with new offers and discounts in a way that an incumbent is not. In relative terms, the incumbent can easily become complacent and offer clients much of the same. As the old adage goes, “if it isn’t broke…”.
I heard of a guy who gave a business review presentation to a client on an iPad. At the end of the presentation, he said to his client “thank you so much for your business” and handed him the iPad. Giving such generous gifts may not be as accepted as it once was, but imagine the shock value of the meeting. It is one the client will never forget! We need to find ways to maintain our clients’ attention span.
Customer fatigue only magnifies themes we have often shared in this space. The number one rule of customer relationship management is to take better care of the customers you already have than new ones you might attract. Offering our best discounts to new customers flies in the face of this principle. Organizations often position their best people as hunters, and then delegate customer service to others (who may not be empowered to make customer retention decisions). An organization can easily lose sight of its most precious possession, its most profitable customers.
Customers should be treated differently based on their lifetime value, and perhaps even receive different benefits based on their tenure. One of my clients recently calculated their average client retention cycle (and at what time they lose the average client) and is now taking steps to change their approach over the span of the customer relationship.
Find a way to shake things up and keep customers coming back for more.