Business is simple. You start your business, get your first clients, increase the number of clients through marketing and advertising and then you live happily ever after, not so?

For the select few in our existance that might be the case, but for most it involves much more than this over simplified statement.

In a recent project we found ourselves sitting with a client listening to the challenges they were facing.

The Business Problem

Our ‘new customer’ numbers are up by 5% reaching our target of 31% new business month on month, but we have a problem. We’re loosing 33% of our old customers every month! We need to push the new business numbers even further. The meeting was adjourned with a clear goal, to come up with new and inventive ways to increase the number of new customers.

The Proposed Solution

I worked on a proposal in which I stated the obvious and that was that I thought spending any more money on new business was not efficient. It would serve the customer better to set a budget aside for customer retention. We proposed the inclusion of new functionality for their website which would provide their existing customers with the tools to:

  1. manage their own accounts
  2. communicate with various departments without the need to phone in
  3. survey tools to get a better understanding of what their customers think of them as well as what they expect as a service.

This was among the many ideas we put forward all aimed at retaining customers through value added services, or tools.

The Business Decision

Since we didn’t come up with answers on how to increase sales we were turned down and our proposal was shelved. A couple of months later however our customer approached us again, requesting costing to develop an online survey module. It had to allow the customer the flexibility to create questionnaires with a variable amount of input types as well as to view reports on how the respondents answered.

In Conclusion

We built the module for DotNetNuke, which is based on Microsoft’s dotNet Framework and after a successful implementation of the requirements the survey module was deployed. The first questionnaire was created and we sent out an e-marketing mailer blitz to our client’s customers. At first there weren’t that many respondents, but the message was clear… the customers were looking for a way to communicate their frustrations with our client. The second survey is currently making the rounds and has seen a massive increase in respondents to the tune of 334%.

This is the first step for our client and I believe in the long run they will serve their customers better as a result of this project and by engaging the customer and asking them in a direct manner what they think and what they need.