Retaining customers in baseball, higher education and secure networking

I finally got around to editing the videos from the awesome CRM Evolution conference chaired by the even more awesome Paul Greenberg.

As I wrote earlier on this blog, a big theme at the conference was customer retention: the whole industry is shifting it’s attention from acquisition (we got that one down pretty well) to customer retention (very little industry best practices exist). Paul assembled some very smart thinkers from different industries. Here are my favorite three customer retention stories which can be summarized in 2 words: BE PROACTIVE!

1. Retaining baseball fans
During the baseball panel with CRM managers from the Yankees, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants there was a lot of talk about retaining fans. The teams are not focusing as much on getting fans into the ball park for the first time, but on how to get them to keep coming back and be advocates for the club and bring more friends. The San Francisco Giants assign ticket holders a personal account manager who will be their champion and arrange “back stage tours” or who can accomodate other “special requests”. The Giants only sell season passes (or single tickets) which means that ticket holders become de-facto sales people for the club as no human being can attend ALL games of the season: season pass holders will now re-sell their tickets to individual games to their friends.

2. Retaining university students
Phil Komarny, CIO at Seton Hill University may very well be one of the most innovative CIO’s in the country. The mission of a university is much like businesses: acquire new students (the size of the incoming class) and retaining them (having them graduate, not drop out). How to retain students? At Seton Hill the teaching staff watches for early warning signals that a student may be struggling. Then they proactively reach out to the student and intervene. For example: if a student turns in their first paper late (the number one predictor of future problems according to Phil), a message will go to other professors to see if there is a pattern. If this is the case, the student will receive a pro-active offer for help.

3. Retaining networking customers
A secure networking company with a NPS score of 81. Really? Yep. Vala Afshar is Chief Customer Officer at Enterasys and is doing some very cool things: his hardware in the field is calling home to headquarters to report on feature usage and alert customer facing personnel if the equipment is not being optimally used. A customer service rep will pro-actively call customers and suggest features to turn on or off.

As I said, what is common about these stories as well as about the many stories I hear from Totango customers: the key to success in retaining and growing customers is to watch for customer signals and to intervene pro-actively even before a customer asks for help. Customers will love you for it!

Do you have a customer retention story? Please share it with us!

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