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Avoiding the £2.2 billion churn: How can businesses pull themselves out of the customer drain?

By Anna Drennan on Nov 25, 2011 6:26:00 PM

The Institute of Customer Service has predicted that UK businesses will lose 10% of their customers over the next 3 years.

It’s not just that consumers are cutting spend in a recession, but because companies have been skimping on customer service for too long.

Britons are spending less. 86% of us research the best deals out there, and 47% say they are more likely to switch companies in the future. There is a war for customers coming. Business executives have predicted over £2 billion revenue losses over the next 3 years. And this is before the cost of replacing ex-customers is taken into account - £6,500 each . Half of British firms say that customer retention is now more important than ever. 

Customer retention relies on good customer service. But only a quarter of businesses have preserved the same levels of service throughout the recession. A third admit that a  focus on acquiring new customers has taken place at the expense of customer service. With those same customers more likely to switch than ever before, can they act quickly enough to stem the tide?

Social networks are just one avenue of the customer experience, and don’t fully replace existing channels for fostering relationships and ensuring repeat business. But this new communication channel is a big factor in the increased consumer demand for better service. Consumers know that if companies don't listen and take care of them, social networks give them more power to cause public brand damage and influence other customers than ever before.

If handled effectively, social networks offer companies a competitive advantage, providing a public evidence that they truly care. Facebook and Twitter showcase your customer service offering to the world. But right now too many companies are still focusing their resources and budget into customer acquisition, through advertising and campaigns. It is customer service that will make or break relationships in social channels, and getting this organised and efficient is so far a secondary consideration for too many companies (read our research on which top retailers are ignoring their customers here). As more and more people turn to Facebook and Twitter to research and interact with the businesses they buy from, neglecting social customer service won’t be an option for those who want to keep their customers. 

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