When waking up dormant customers offers more opportunity than winning new ones

A mid-scale corporate law-firm asked for help on a business development challenge. Their partners were, naturally, working hard at finding and winning new clients. They were having some limited success, but the business overall was not growing.

We did our usual stuff – What’s happened to client numbers over time? What has been the win-rate been, and what has the loss-rate been?

No problem with the first two questions – but a big problem with the last one!

The problem? They don’t actually know when a client is “lost”. They rarely get a letter saying “We don’t want your services any more”. But it is very common that the phone calls stop.

Even that’s tricky – have they lost a client if they haven’t heard from them for 3 months, 12 months, 3 years …? So that’s why nobody was noticing.

Any way, their client database had a lot of clients who had been quiet for a year or more – more than half the list. So we got them to review that list, and call those who had not certainly been lost.

A typical client response? “Great to hear from you!”. And sometimes “We just have something coming up we need your help on.” Over a few months, the firm got a very healthy jump in cases and revenue.

How on earth can that happen? you may ask.

Well, like many businesses, this one was happy to break out the champagne whenever a partner won a new customer – but ‘not-losing’ a customer is not an event, it’s a continuing non-event!

All of this is why businesses in many sectors have strong customer-relationship management systems. But not all do, so if you think you may have ‘dormant’ customers, check what it may be worth to wake them up.

PS: I hope you find these insights about strategy and dynamic models useful. If you want to get a more structured understanding of strategy dynamics principles in bite-size pieces, why not sign up to my weekly Briefings.

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