How to manage the dissolution of customer relationships

Competition for consumer attention is high across most industries primarily thanks to the boom of online offerings and a multitude of choices. Although beneficial for the customer, choice can be extremely problematic for firms, mostly because the process of trying to ‘win over’ new customers can be very resource draining. According to Forbes, attracting new customers now costs a company five times more than keeping an existing one. What’s more, when you win over a customer’s loyalty, there is no guarantee that they will actually remain committed to the relationship.shutterstock_206702443

With such a high level of competition, businesses often tend to focus the majority of their resources towards attracting new customers. Although important, there is another element to customer relationship management, which organisations often tend to overlook – how to handle the cessation of a relationship.

The termination of a relationship with a customer can often be the result of dissatisfaction. If unhappy with a service or product, customers will typically switch to competitors in pursuit of a better experience.

However, there are also situations where customers have to leave a relationship involuntarily, perhaps with the intention of returning in the future. For example, they may have to move away from the area for a period of time, or may even have completed the transaction and therefore no longer require the service. In other cases, customers sometimes experience feelings of ‘brand longing’ after spending time with an alternative supplier, so will consciously re-establish and resurrect previous contact with your business.

These ‘phoenix’ types of relationships (in other words, relationships which temporarily cease, but are then reborn in the future) can be of high value to businesses as a potential future revenue stream, meaning that organisations need to ensure their ‘safe return’ and reward them for their loyalty.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can play a significant role in highlighting and analysing the profile of not just existing customers, but those that have the potential to return and be active again. The information gathered can be invaluable as it allows companies to analyse and organise live and non-live customer accounts, and tailor future interactions accordingly to the individual, based on historic activity.

shutterstock_249069352As customers are constantly finding themselves regularly bombarded by brands with marketing driven information, ensuring contact with customers – ALL customers, prospects, present and previous – is vital and needs to be as consistent, personalised and relevant as possible. Businesses rely on customer satisfaction to fuel long-term relationships, which is an antecedent to sustainable business success within the marketplace. CRM software can help facilitate customer support and improve the quality and efficiency of future customer experiences, helping to rekindle old flames with long lost customers.

The importance of maintaining good relationships with customers is paramount, regardless of your current relationship status. However, this is especially true after a customer leaves. You never know when they may resurface- and they may even bring others back with them.

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