Knowing When to Say, "Goodbye"

Tuesday Sep 18th 2001 by Robyn Greenspan
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While no e-tailer likes to disappoint customers, there are some that may just not be worth keeping. The lengths you want to go to satisfy customers should be evaluated by return on investment, with a good measure of your personal beliefs and professional integrity thrown in.

Customer relationship management (CRM or eCRM) has become critical to e-commerce and companies that are successful at implementing these strategies are likely to achieve profitable results. However, with so much emphasis on customer retention, what often gets overlooked is that some customers cost too much to keep.

Small e-businesses tend to go to great measures to satisfy and retain customers, while also hoping to avoid negative word-of-mouth. Big enterprises may crunch each customer into an analytical figure, resulting in a determination as to whether that shopper is worth trying to keep. The irony is that large businesses can better afford to satisfy a customer that cuts into their profits. A small company often cannot.

Unprofitable and problematic customers can include:

  • Shoppers with unrealistic expectations and unreasonable requests. If they are demanding that you "jump through hoops" to earn their business, chances are you'll have to do that every time they place an order.

  • Those seeking preferential treatment. Demands for high-cost shipping upgrades or unnecessary on-site visits may not be worth the excessive cost or time.

  • Hagglers. These bargain-seekers often make promises of continued patronage and large orders in the future, which may not come to fruition.

  • Incessant complainers. Customers who are never satisfied will eat up valuable customer support and administrative time.

The lengths you want to go to satisfy customers should be evaluated by return on investment, with a good measure of your personal beliefs and professional integrity thrown in. Each customer service scenario may need to be individually evaluated before determinations are made as to whether or not there should be a retention effort.

Reprinted from ECommerce Guide.

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