Are You Making Customer Retention a Top Priority?

Small Business Advice July 28, 2011 By Deborah Shane

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers say they have “stomped out” of stores and 67 percent say they have hung up on hold because of poor customer service, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

I was astounded at the lack of priority and vision those statistics reveal when it comes to businesses not only attracting new customers but also retaining the ones we already have. In today’s marketplace, except for a few standout brands that have done an amazing job at being “indispensable,” competiting for consumers’ loyalty doesn’t seem to be a major priority for businesses. Big mistake.

Check out the diagram below about the cycle of customer acquisition, retention and referrals from inside Flip the Funnel by Joseph Jaffe. Getting new customers, retaining them and then getting more customers from the ones you already have is the perfect business ecosystem — but it is only possible if retention is a priority.

Flip the Funnel Graph

This week I had another run-in with my now big, fat, out-of-touch cable provider. What shocked me was:

  • The package I had signed onto was not the package they had me on.
  • My service had to get interrupted so that I could call and ask what was up.
  • The service people I reached on the phone ranged from clueless and disinterested to flat-out rude and inconvenienced.

I also went to a very popular, usually consistent restaurant this week that was a service and quality disaster that night. They got hit with a big party of people that had their kitchen and servers scrambling. I don’t care. Schedule more people that night to handle it. We waited 45 minutes for our main dish, and when it came, it was bad. I called over the manager, who was polite, accommodating and took the dish off the bill. They will see me another time for that.

bad dinner

I am a consumer who pays dearly for my credit card, media, phone and communications services. If a company is not treating me like gold, a diva, special, appreciated, respectfully, I am going to dump them immediately. Loyalty and longevity are built on the highest commitment to customer service and retention.

There are far too few companies I could list here that “get it” and are doing it, but here are the customer service elite according to a Bloomberg Business survey. What are they doing that got them on this list?

Indispensable, standout, unexpected service today is as essential and important as air, water and food are for the survival of human beings. Make this a priority, and you and your company have a chance for success and longevity. Ignore this and you and your company are headed for Jurassic Park!

If a company is not:

  • consistent
  • responsive
  • knowledgeable
  • relevant
  • pleasant

. . . they will be gone from my world pronto!

Whew, I feel better now. What’s your take? Who is treating you right out there? What can you learn from them?


This is a great article from Deborah Shane.  As business owners, we are on the flip side of this article.  We are the ones who are making people stomp out of the store or the ones who are able to give a refund for the meal that turned out badly.

Are you taking your customer service seriously?  Or are you taking your customers for granted?

Our clients do not expect us to be perfect all the time but they do expect us to make things right when we do mess up.  We should take that responsibility seriously and make it our priority in keeping happy customers.  Most of us small business owners don’t have the luxury of burning bridges every where we go and still stay in business.  But on the flip-side, when we do make our customers happy, they tell everyone!  Word of mouth advertising is the best advertising a small business can do – but the catch is that we can’t do it, our customers have to.  So….make your customers happy and your business will flourish :-).

~ Comfort C. Price, Owner
Concept Design Studios

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