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CUSTOMER INSIGHT: Customer maximisation

  Simon LawrenceApparenty, the US is officially in recession. Is the same thing going to happen here? I think many small businesses are expecting a tough year. I am also preparing for the change in the typical client conversation that occurs each time we move into a recessionary market.

During an expanding market, it's straightforward to grow on new business volume. However, when the market gets difficult, clients wake up to the idea of up-sell and cross-sell. They realise there might be an opportunity to be gained from building a more profitable relationship with their current customers, especially as their new business volumes have just stalled. The problem with the timing of this epiphany is that heading into a downturn, with new business volumes stalling, is too late to replace your missing new business with added-value from within the current customer base.

Option one. Do nothing, or at least nothing different. I am amazed by the number of organisations which, when facing the problem of a stalled customer acquisition programme – plus the menace of an eroding customer base – decide to do nothing about it.

Option two. To keep focusing on acquisition. They know it's no longer working, but they keep firing out campaigns in the hope something will happen. This is part of a syndrome that says acquiring a new customer is always sexier than retaining a current one.