Impact of Customer Retention on Lifetime Customer Value

Continuing the series of posts about Lifetime Customer Value (LCV), this post looks at how Customer Retention impacts LCV.

Everyone probably agrees that customer retention is important and we know intuitively that better retention is a good thing. But just having better customer retention isn’t worth much unless you have relevant programs to monetize existing customers. Do you know specifically how a change in customer retention will manifest in financial terms at your company?

That’s where having factual data that measures LCV comes into play. Measuring LCV provides the means to do modeling on possible scenarios and then track performance. Using the same LCV example from the previous posts, this would be the scenario if we increased retention to 95% with a 10% increase in retention costs (changes in red):
Assuming the same sales penetration rate for existing customers, revenues and gross profit would increase by 41% and 34% respectively during years 2-5 (the retention period). The LCV revenue and profit per customer would increase by 9.1% and 9.3% respectively over the full 5 year lifetime period. In this example the 10% increase in retention cost represents 1.05% of total costs. Therefore an investment of 1.05% returns 9.3% additional LCV profit – a good deal by any measure. Would you like to do this for your company?

Unless you have factual LCV baseline data to model possible improvement scenarios, you’re just guessing that the outcome would be favorable. In this example, spending 28% more on customer retention produces a negative return – do you know what your rate of return would be for various spending levels?

“Old age marketers like photo shoots and they believe in their intuition. But new age marketers believe their job is allocating assets in order to achieve desired business results, such as increasing revenue or customer retention.” – Jeff Levitan

As mentioned earlier, we probably all agree that improving customer retention is a good thing, especially in the current recessionary business environment where finding new customers is tough. Retaining more customers should reflect positively on Lifetime Customer Value, but it’s not a straightforward certainty:
  • What’s the value proposition for customers to stay with you longer than they have been?
  • How much can you spend to retain more customers?
  • If you can retain more customers, how are you going to monetize it? There’s no point in just retaining more customers if you don’t have a plan to market and sell something to them.
  • What other benefits can you reap from retaining more customers? For example, a larger pool of candidates for references and case studies.
Hopefully this series of blog posts has provided some ideas and food for thought to make better decisions and improve business results using Lifetime Customer Value data.

Your comments are always welcome.
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