Retention: Keeping the Relationship Reciprocal

by Craig Harrison

Congratulations, You�ve got them. Now, how do you keep your often hard-earned customers?
   Retention requires attention. You keep customers through a number of practices, by keeping them engaged, informed and involved in their own design of the relationship. It�s time we pay attention to retention.

The first date went well. Now what?

Customers come to you in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. The key, for you, is to keep them going forward. To continue the relationship you�ve got to:

Make the Relationship Fun and Easy

How hard do you make it for customers to reach you? Is there a toll-free number that�s easy to remember? Is the URL for your website intuitive? Have you added a conspicuous place to bookmark it for customers� ease in returning? If visiting you in person, are directions and parking easily negotiated? Do as much as you can to make it as easy as possible to come back for more.

Second Dates

It�s easy to make first dates fun. But what can you do for an encore? You can wait for cues or instead take the lead and offer your best �second date� strategy to recreate the magic. Based on the first product or service you sold, what might this customer like next? Does a related product or service offer a nice fit for your customers? I counsel clients to make the overture instead of waiting for the customers to come back to them. We know from experience that not all customers come back otherwise. Show them they�re wanted!

Meeting Your Family (of Products and Services)

Are your customers aware of the breadth of services or extensive product line you offer? Expose them to the variety of ways you can improve their business. Having bought from you they already know and like you on some level. They�re taking less of a chance now so strive to supply multiple needs for your customer. Perhaps references or testimonials from others can vouch for your professionalism and competencies.

Going Steady

But what about longer term needs and desires? The sooner you can demonstrate your ability to scratch multiple itches the better positioned you�ll be to retain these customers going forward. Ascertain your customers� needs and demonstrate your ability to fulfill them. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud: What do customers really want? Your goal is to find out. It will vary by customers. Don�t assume and don�t project. Some sales organizations impose assumptions onto customers without any research or inquiry.

Communication � The Key to All Relationships

The health of any relationship is centered around communication. Customers want to know you�re always there for them, especially in their time of need. Stay present in their periphery. Make yourself the preferred alternative when they seek out the products or services you carry. For you as a sales organization, customer retention means customers instinctively think of you when they need to buy. By building loyalty, by insuring their satisfaction along the way, you become the logical provider for their next purchase. Retention, then, becomes your fruitful frontier.

Craig Harrison is a speaker, trainer and consultant who helps businesses make communication and customer service fun and easy. Contact him at 888.450.0664, via e-mail at or a through