The Cyclical Nature of Life, the Economy & Customer Retention

As Election Day in the U.S. draws closer, I feel the need to address a perspective that I’ve not seen anywhere. People in this country, and indeed the world, have been conditioned to 1. Want everything to be “good” all the time and 2. Delivered quickly. Thanks a lot Apple and Amazon and Zappos. (Hey, I enjoy next day delivery as much as the next person, but not everything in life can be delivered that quickly!)

Unfortunately for those who expect that kind of life experience, frustration and disappointment are inevitable. Let’s take the economy. Yes, let’s delicately go there without getting into which party or candidate has the best plan. The expectation that the economy should always be growing, the stock market always going up and wealth always increasing is absurd.

OceanWavesOnBeachIn nature, everything is cyclical. Ocean waves come in AND go out. While breathing, you must inhale AND exhale. Trees grow leaves in the spring and shed them in the fall. These are not things that need thought or study, they just happen. This is how nature works. Everything is cyclical. Furthermore, everything has a gestation period. On average, human babies take nine months to develop before they are born. Carrots take approximately 12 weeks for full maturity. The Grand Canyon formed over a period of 18 million years. Development takes as long as it takes!

So it seems odd that everyone is freaking out about the down cycle of the economy, its length and severity. I am not insensitive to the people who’ve been affected; I get it, it’s very uncomfortable and a lot of people are in a lot of pain. What I’m saying though, is this experience is part of nature’s cyclical system. Humans have attempted to change and manipulate nature to better suit their needs for thousands of years. Sure, we can make vegetables and animals grow faster (hormone injected and genetically modified foods anyone?). It seems to work out much better when we work WITH the environment instead of fighting against.

Of course in many cases nature can be helped along by such things as pesticides, technology, the Federal Reserve System or such. Again, these aides (experiments?) work better when helping the organism or system do what it does naturally as opposed to working against the “evil” that threatens it.

Customer acquisition and retention are cyclical too. Clients will always be signing on for your service or leaving your practice. It’s part of the natural Cycle Imagecycle of business. Recognize and accept that and then take the measures that you can, use the tools available to you, to extend that cycle by saying thank you to clients for business.

Although it would never happen, what if a candidate came out and said, hey, this uncomfortable downturn we’ve been experiencing is natural. Life and the economy are not always going to be happy, pain-free and comfortable. Real growth and innovation are what happen when things are UNcomfortable. Some cycles in life take more than a few minutes or even a few years to turn around. Situations are not resolved as quickly as they are in a two-hour movie. Know for sure though that they absolutely WILL turn around. And they will, no matter who is in office because nature has laws that are not breakable.

I welcome your thoughts and commentary on this concept, but I absolutely will not tolerate any political rants or accusations.

Getting New Customers at the Expense of Current Ones

Are you a fan of “new customer only” promotions? An email showed up in my inbox from someone promoting a system for generating cash flow. One of her ideas is to use “become-a-new-customer offers.” That may be a great way for businesses to entice new business through the door, but I also think it’s a great way to alienate the clients you already have. And as you know, no one is more valuable than your current clients!

Here’s why I don’t like most new customer only offers. As a consumer, if I’m already doing business with a company and I see they’re offering new customers a better deal than I’m getting, I feel ripped off; what am I, chopped liver?

PartyPeopleI’m reminded of the story about the man who was finished with life on earth and was deciding between eternity in heaven or hell. He visited heaven and it was beautiful and peaceful. Harps were playing and everyone was laid back and mellow – just like he’d always heard it would be. Then he visited hell and it was an all out party with dancing and laughing. Everyone was enjoying fun adventures and he was treated like a rock star. Not at all the horrible place he expected! He goes back up to heaven and tells the angels he’s decided that hell looks like more fun and he’s going to go there. He returns with his commitment to hell and finds the scene desolate. He’s sequestered in a hot, musty cell where loud screeching sirens go off every two minutes. What’s going on here, he asks. Yesterday was a big rockin’ party! Where’s all the fun? And he’s told, well, yesterday you were a prospect; today you’re a client.

There’s nothing inherently wrong in creating “check out our service” offers to entice potential clients to give you a try. The problem is when you’re not concurrently making efforts to let current clients know how valuable they are. If you’re able to balance the two, and your existing customers feel confident they’re getting the best service, value and deals, then continue on with what’s working. If you’re seeing a revolving door of people taking advantage of the new customer offer and leaving shortly afterwards, you might want to put a bit more investment into strengthening the relationships you have with your current customers.