Caring for Customers Through the Full Cycle

Most marketers invest much time, thought, and energy in acquistion of customers.  And many (but perhaps too few) pay attention to current customers, especially in recurring-revenue businesses.  But how many even consider how to treat customers as they want to leave, in hopes that a positive experience might make it easier to bring them back in the future?

Think about it.  How many times have you heard the horror stories about customers trying to quit?  How often does that turn a mildly-dissatisfied customer into a raging anti-customer?  I just had an experience trying to quit a music service via an online connection, it took three tries, and it was painful.  There was a rumor several years ago that the only way to quit AOL was to use swear words in a chat room and get kicked off; my one experience with AOL was less extreme but still an unpleasant exit, even during the trial period.

As businesses mature this needs to be a higher concern for marketers.  Holding customers becomes more important than winning new customers.  And having a positive reputation through the entire customer life cycle is even more important.