Customer retention is ultimately driven by value. Even the best segmentation, targeting, positioning, creative messaging, or promotion with flawless execution will fall flat in the absence of value.

Therefore, in developing a plan to maintain and upgrade a customer base, it is necessary to build on a solid foundation. Only then will the plan lead to greater customer retention and overall organizational success.

To succeed, customer retention must be a top-down, companywide initiative. Truly committing to customer retention is hard work because it affects virtually every aspect of your organization, but the payback in sustainable growth and profitability makes the effort worthwhile.

The path to customer retention involves six key steps.

customer retention

1. Ask

Ask your customers what they want and what they like and dislike. Include customer surveys on your website, at the point of sale, and in package inserts. You'll likely get "extreme" feedback from customers who love you or hate you. Customers who are mildly satisfied are not as motivated to speak their minds.

But ask only if you're prepared to deal with the responses. Turning a deaf ear to a problem is the kiss of death.

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Chintan Bharwada is a marketing expert who specializes in customer loyalty, retention, and acquisition. Reach him via and read his blog, Loyalty & Customers.