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Mass Maricetiivj Vyrsi.-; Qne-in-Ori ^aikelirtg satisfied customers; several competitors tan do ihis. The challenge is to produce delighted and loyal customers.^?

Companies seeking to expand lEieir profits and sales have to spend considerable lime and resources searching for new customers. To generate leads, the company develops ads and places them in media dial will reach new prospects: it sends direct mail and makes phone calls to possible new prospects; its salespeople participate in trade shoe's where they might find new leads: it pinchases names from list brokers; and »n. All ibis activity produces a list of suspects. Sueleen arc people or organizations who might conceivably have an interest in buying! he company's product or service, but may not have the means or real i mention to buy. The ne.iL lask is to identify which suspects are realty good — customers with (lie motiva-

liciij ability, and Opportunity to make ti purchase—by interviewing them, checking oil their liuancial standing and so on. Then it is time to send lju( the salespeople it is not enough, however, to attract new customers; the company must keep them am! increase their business. Too many companies suffer from )>¡¡-li customer churn—high customer defection. It is like adding water to a leaking bucket. Cellular carriers, for example, are plagued with "spinners," customers who switch carriers at least three times ei year looking for the best deal. Many lose 25 percent Of their subscriber; Ó9Ch year at an estimated cost of S3 hi I lion to S-t billion. Unfortunately, much Marketing theory and practice centers on the ait nf attracting new customers, rather than on retaining and cultivating existing ones. T he emphasis traditionally has been on making sales rather than building relationships; on preselling and selling rather than caring fori lie customer afterward.

There are two main ways tn strengthen customer retention. One is to erect hi^h ¡¡witching barriers. Customers are less inclined to swiich to another supplier when ibis would Involve high capital costs, hi^h search costs, or the loss of loyal-customer discounts. The better approach is i o deliver high customer satisfaction. This makes it harder for competitors Id offer lower prices or inducements to switch.

Some companies think they are getting ¡t sense of customer satisfaction by tallying com-pluiiits. bt li pe rccnt of d i ssai is f iet I ct i stoi ne rs don't co m p I a i u: i hey just si op buy! n g,-'* "llic be^l tiling a company can do is tu make it easy for I he cuslomcr tO complain. .Suggest in it forms, toll-free numbers. Web sites, and e-mail addresses allow fur quick, two-way communication. The 3M Company claims th^t over two-thirds of its product improvement i ticas come frum listening I o customer complaints.

Likening is not enough, however; the company must respond quickly and constructively to any complaint (see "Marketing Memo; How to Handle Customer Complaints"):

Of i he customers wlio register a complaint, between 51 and 70% will do business again with the organization if their complaint is resolved. Elir figure goes up to a staggering

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Salehoo Secrets and Tips

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