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How would you know if you lost a customer?

Here’s the tough question: How do you know if your customer is still a customer? Or if they already made their final purchase?

  • Dell has a report that shows I’m a Dell customer, because I bought a bunch of Dells. But they don’t have a report that says my most recent computer purchase was a Mac.
  • Toyota has a report that shows I’m a Toyota customer, because I bought a Sienna. But they don’t have a report that says I’ve been visiting the Honda dealer.
  • We have a hosted project management system who thinks we’re a good customer, and we still pay them a bunch of money. But they don’t have a report that says that many of our users are spending their time at Google Docs instead.


  • Watch for declines in usage from existing customers, even if they’re paying.
  • Create recurring contact opportunities, like free upgrades or service, so you know if those customers are still using your stuff.

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  1. Jerome Pineau July 1, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    I think the first step is to have a corp culture that actually cares about losing customers to begin with :) I can think of at least 3 industries in general that do not.

  2. TV James July 5, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Yeah, the car companies I’ve dealt with over the years have seemed completely oblivious to that. Ok, you got a sale. But did you “win” and I “lose”? Kinda feels that way.

    Another industry that has a long lead-time between sales but actually seems to get it: real estate. I’m friends on Facebook with my Realtor in California where I sold a house and have referred several people. I’m also friends with the Realtor here in Seattle (a referral from the one in California) and I’ve referred three friends who’ve now also all worked with him to purchase a home. Maybe I’ll stay in my home so long that he’s retired by the time we are ready to buy our next one, but in the meantime, we continue to send people his way.

    The automotive industry tries to see the car as the only product and “customer service” as an unnecessary thing to be pawned off on poorly run (and not-at-all supervised) franchises who think they can screw with you and apparently don’t care about another sale or repeat business or referrals.

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