How Vulnerable Are Your Customers? (Part One)

Is your revenue drying up? Are your customers delaying purchases? Are current customers becoming more costly to serve? Given the difficult economic times, how do you not only hold onto what you have, but actually acquire more customers-at greater profits? Research has shown that companies that kept their wits about them during major recessions actually grew during the recession and even more rapidly for at least three years afterward.

How many of your customers are being bombarded by your competitors? How many are now seriously considering your competitors’ offers?

Last week alone my daughter received more than 20 solicitations from colleges and universities around the country. Some are creative, some are boring, some are promising a great education and others seem to be promising one long party (that one didn’t make it past the parental filter!). At first my daughter was excited about receiving mail addressed to her (what’s a stamp to a texting fanatic?!). But it quickly became overwhelming. How many of your customers, like my daughter, are being overwhelmed by your competitors’ efforts to woo them away from you?

Your customers are vulnerable.

For the first time, your loyal customers are listening to your competitors. They’ve always been bombarded by competitive offerings, but now they are open to exploring options. As I wrote in a recent newsletter, customers’ value equations are changing. They are trading downwards to a lower-cost alternative because they’ve realized they no longer need the premium products. As well, if the service they’ve been enjoying is no longer there, and the relationship is suffering, the barriers to exit are falling fast.

What can you do?

There are five things you need to do now as you update your Customer Strategy to reflect the new reality of the recession:

1. Determine who your best customers are and those that you must keep at all costs
2. Discover their core, non-negotiable value drivers and refuse to scrimp on these
3. Leverage technology to enable you to deliver more with less
4. Find more prospects trading down into your market
5. Consider letting go of your most unprofitable customers