Some Recommendations (including sources for customer management)

Do everything possible to hold the present "hostage-type" customers, ie strengthen the relationship

As soon as possible, broaden the customer base beyond the current hostage customer base

Look at forming partnerships, alliances, joint ventures etc with customers to bind them to you

Have customers actively involved in all stages of project development

For each business, appoint account managers in order to avoid overlap (with several individuals contacting the same customer) - one person only is responsible for co-ordinating and liaising with a particular customer

Invite customers to attend your meetings, and regularly ask them to give presentations on how to improve service to them

Regularly seek to attend your customers' meetings

Like Woolworth's, have an "empty chair" at every meeting; this chair is the customer's chair to remind staff of the importance of customers, ie an organisation is only in business as long as customers want it to be

Introduce the 50:25:25 rule. It involves managers spending 50% of their time behind their desk; 25% with staff; 25% with customers

Regularly review all activities, and if activities are not adding value to the customer, stop doing them. The best test to determine if an activity is adding value is to identify if the customer will pay for the cost of the activity

Continue to regularly survey customers, but also recognise that retaining customers (loyal customers who return for more business with you) is even more important than merely satisfying customers

At every opportunity, employ staff (technical and non-technical) who have had commercial experience at both the corporate and business levels

Rank customers into "As, Bs and Cs", where "As" are loyal customers who give you all of their business; "Bs" are shoppers and give you a good share of their business; "Cs" give none of their business to you. The aim is to retain all "As"; turn 10% of "Bs" into "As" every year and turn 10% of "Cs" into "Bs" every year

Keep detailed records (including results of follow-up and actions taken to rectify the situation) of all complaints and dissatisfied customers

Under "customer service", develop indicators that measure

- customers satisfied with products and services;

- customers who have had an opportunity to evaluate products and services;

Remember: customer service and satisfaction levels should be continuously monitored, evaluated, measured and used as a basis for constant improvement.

Visit an organisation outside your industry that is a leader in customer service and see what you can learn from them

Never under-estimate the impact of emotions on customers' decision-making. Most decisions are based more on how people feel (emotions) rather than what they think (rational analysis).

- it is more important in marketing to understand the personality types of your customers rather than demographic/socioeconomic groupings

- need to understand digital/e-marketing with its interactive concept

(sources: Bill Synnot, 1996; Bill Synnot et al, 1998; Karl Albrecht, 1994; Wayne Mansfield, 2003; Larry Selden et al, 2002; Craig S. Fleisher et al, 2003; Rochelle Burbury, 2003; Winston Marsh, 2003; Jill Griffin, 2003; Neil Shoebridge, 2004a; Harry Onsman, 2004d; Dianne Coute, 2006; Helen Trinca, 2007a; Catherine Fox, 2007; Lyndall Crisp, 2007a; Lisa Carden et al, 2006; Catherine Fox, 2007g; Narelle Harper, 2007b; Nirmalya Kumar et al, 2007; Martyn Newman, 2007; Clayton Christensen et al, 2003; Richard Branson, 2008; Brad Howarth, 2008; Catherine Fox, 2008f; Brad Howarth, 2008; Seth Godin, 2007; W. J. Henningan, 2009; Hannah Tattersall, 2009; Marion Hume, 2010; Neil Shoebridge, 2009; Andrew Cornell, 2010; Rachel Botsman, 2010; Rob Markey et al, 2010; Rachel Botsman, 2010a;The Economist, 2011; Andrew Cornwell, 2013)



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