The usual answer, once you get through the marketing spin and positioning, is customers.
Companies spend a large amount of time, resources, and treasure converting prospects into customers, but where is the investment in keeping customers from becoming anti-customers?
The mobile phone business is an ideal example for this ebb and flow, a prime case study for customer investment.
I'm a T-Mobile USA customer; have been since 2004. This year, T-Mobile USA has decided that 2012 Is The Year T-Mobile Fixes Churn. Does this mean just the customers at the end of their contract or the one leaving because of the lack of the iDevice they want?
Or will T-Mobile USA extend this churn-loss plan (Go New Year's Resolution!) proactively to all customers.
Will T-Mobile bother to personally contact (hey, with a phone call?) every one of its current customers?
Will T-Mobile ask customers who are leaving why? Not in a stupid, aggressive way, but in a way that admits that they didn't do enough for that person, but they really want to understand what went wrong.
Will T-Mobile USA take the time to invest in their customers?
Investing in customers means proactively working with them to ensure that the service they are getting:
- Meets the customer's current needs
- Is flexible enough to adjust to the evolution of the customer's business.
Joseph Michelli discusses the concepts of service velocity and service recovery in The Zappos Experience. These are items that companies need to consider. Customers want you to adapt and evolve to meet their post-sales needs (service velocity) and then be truthful, upfront, and solution-focused when there is a problem (service recovery). Customers want you to invest in them, in sickness and in health.
It's so much easier to keep a customer than it is to get a new one to replace them. So why are so many companies lacking focus and discipline when investing in their customers.