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Is it time to ‘shape up’ your customer retention program?

I have received some good feedback on a few recent posts due to my use of analogies. One comment suggested I was getting a little too serious. With that in mind, I decided to “lighten up” one of my favorite analogies. This one is about getting in shape.

The role of the customer advocate for a company is really very similar to the role of a personal trainer. Some people I know have the discipline to commit to and stick with a program of diet, exercise, and habits that keep them in great shape. However, most of us need a little more structure and support. Similarly, a few rare companies are innately customer focused, but most of them have to work hard to maintain themselves in tip-top customer-retaining shape.  Regardless of whether we are talking about people maintaining their individual health or companies retaining and enhancing their competitive health, there are certain similarities and patterns that can be observed.  

The first lesson is that the recipe for success doesn’t vary that much from top performer to those who are on the edge of disaster. Whether you are a world-class athlete or middle-aged person trying to enhance your quality of life, you still have to:

1. Objectively measure the key indicators of health.

2. Be aware of your limitations, issues and potential injuries.

3. Set realistic and measurable improvement goals.

4. Access the right tools, advice, and expertise to drive the appropriate improvement.

5. Get started now, do not make excuses or procrastinate.

The same can be said for a company trying to improve their customer focus. Whether it be a clear industry leader or a company that is struggling, you still have to do the same things:

1. Objectively measure the existing state of your customer relationships.

2. Know what your company can commit to doing and, more important, what it cannot.

3. Set and communicate targets and time frames for improvement.

4. Ensure that you are working to improve those drivers with the most impact.

5. Don’t wait. There is always plenty to do and some improvements to be had.

Improving one’s overall health is dynamic and ever-changing. The best you can do is to work on the things that you can control—your own actions and attitude—while being aware of the things in the environment that you can’t control—like the aging process. The same is true for your customer retention efforts. Yes, your customers have choices and yes, your competitors will do what they must do. But, you have the ability to control your own actions and attitudes, and if you do those things well every day, you will keep improving and the results will follow.

Orginally posted in Customer Connection on February 25, 2009.

About the Author

Steve Walker

Steve Walker

As the third generation of Walkers to lead the privately-held research and consulting firm, Steve is focused on creating shareholder value for Walker’s clients through customer intelligence and customer strategies. Steve was named president of Walker in 1994 and added the CEO title in 1996. Then, in 2006, Steve was named chairman of the board.

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