According to this article, 'Customer loyalty, according to consulting firm Protiviti, is at the top of business challenges that non-financial services firms will face in 2012. Other challenges include managing supply chain risks, privacy and security issues, and attracting and retaining top talent."
I think the big 2 in 2012 will be Retention and Security.
In security, we have hackers everywhere, including inside the organization. To wit, this Windstream employee who stole numerous accounts to buy stuff. Then you have the 24M Zappos accounts that were hacked. Security is something to take seriously -- and to make certain that your customers take seriously.
The other challenge is Customer Retention. I face it all the time. Circuits come off term and clients bounce for a few dollars, even when they didn't have a single billing issue or outage.
Part of that is my not having a retention plan in place. Proactively calling customers 90 days before the circuit expired to discuss their needs, growth, etc.
The article mentions "there is one other critical element to customer retention – customer service." However, if there are no issues - billing or otherwise - the customer won't call, so how do you provide service? Thank you notes, phone calls, surveys, and needs analysis. Provide Value Upfront!
I liked this tidbot from the article: "Studies have shown that IT customers are more interested in reliable technology and efficient customer service than getting the best price. For managed services providers (MSP), this requires explaining the value of the services upfront and continuously showing proof of that value to maintain the customer relationship."
These are just two things to think about - security and retention - for 2012 as we close out month 1.