'At-Risk' Customers: Do You Have a System for Identifying, Stabilizing Them?
1. Purchase and use data—declines in purchase or use activity represent proof that customers are spending elsewhere, and are a defection risk.
2. Listening posts—relatively few customers, whether B-to-B or B-to-C, actually complain. But internal (frontline employees) and external (social media, ratings, etc.) can provide useful information.
3. Customer transactional and relationship research—can keep track of perceived performance with customers overall, as well as with specific customer groups and individual customers.
4. Accounts receivable—"short payment" and slow payment are tripwires to customer discontent and risk.
5. Customer network—advisory boards and online communities can uncover areas of concern.
6. Churn modeling—advances in data mining software have enabled more companies to apply sophisticated churn models, evaluating the interplay of multiple purchase and behavior variables to uncover defection patterns that might otherwise go undetected.
7. Account event milestones—firms like banks, credit card and insurance companies have discovered that certain milestones—such as renewal dates—can trigger risk and relationship reconsideration.
Perhaps the most leveraging element of both risk and stabilization in customer experience is interaction with employees. Beyond employee engagement and its somewhat tangential influence on customer behavior, employees have the capability to be "ambassadors of value," as well as conveyors of insight. If they are proactive, involved and committed on three levels—to the company, to the value proposition of the company's products and services, and to the customer—then risk can be mitigated and the solid relationship, leading to customer loyalty behavior, can be regained.
"Marketing Nuggets" will include observations regarding trends, and often study results, representing current, real-world issues of high importance to direct marketers. Those issues include omnichannel communication usage, mobile marketing, content, informal offline and online social communication, consumer behavior, message personalization, internal customer-centric processes and organization, strategic customer life cycle planning, proactive employee contribution, etc.