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Issue of September 2005 

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Retaining and rewarding loyalty

In The Customer Loyalty Solution, author Arthur Middleton Hughes makes a genuine attempt to combine the best of three worlds—IT, business and marketing. Hughes goes back to the basics and reminds people of the era of the corner grocery store. The grocer knew the names of his customers, would stand at the door and greet them by their names, ask about their families’ well-being, and provide personalised service.

He would keep things aside for customers, help them carry heavy packages to their cars, and build strong and lasting relationships. In short, he built his business by cultivating the loyalty of his customers.

The Internet in the present day has changed the way we communicate and carry out business. It has ushered in a global perspective where we realise that there’s a whole world of potential customers out there waiting to be tapped. If you have the resources and the know-how, you are on your way to becoming a world player.

Although there are computers for easy access to information, only few IT companies manage to make it big because making business sense of the available data needs business and marketing acumen. Many businessmen and marketing experts remain local players and are unable to think big or expand their business and expertise to a global level.

Today, we live in the world of Business Intelligence where state-of-the-art solutions are easily available. Many companies spend millions to implement such remedies, and yet more than half the CRM implementations in the US and more than 80 percent in Europe are considered failures. Thus the need for business executives, including the CIO, to get a better perspective of business.

This book stays away from jargon, and wherever technical words arise, an effort is made to explain them. It covers the basics before going forward with a practical guide for searching for a realistic solution to make database marketing work.

Hughes divides the book into 15 simple and easy to understand chapters. Each chapter explains a different aspect of data marketing such as the working of database marketing, selling on the Web, computing the lifetime value of a customer, importance of a customer’s name, the power of communication, customer response, marketing to a particular segment of customers, and finding loyal customers.

Title: The Customer Loyalty Solution

Author: Arthur Middleton Hughes

Publisher: Tata McGraw-Hill

Price: Rs 195

It is more of a practical guide or handbook in its approach, with chapters citing examples and case studies to explain the solutions applied by a company. At the end of each chapter there is a summary of all the important points covered, followed by what approach worked and what did not for a company. The author also adds a short quiz to ensure that the reader was alert while reading.

The Customer Loyalty Solution stresses on bringing back close personal relationships between customers and their companies which has been lost due to globalisation and growth in the economy. The book exhorts the reader to keep track of important facts which are always pondered over by the world’s leading companies in database marketing and customer loyalty management. These are:

  • Data marketing is not the same as CRM
  • Data marketing is incremental. The Internet helps data marketing deliver what it promises
  • The Web is an ordering medium, not a selling medium
  • Everything in database marketing—a new strategy, a programme, communication— can be measured
  • It is advisable to compute customer lifetime value and use it to design your marketing strategy
  • Some customers are profitable and some are not. The book questions the retention of the loyalty of unprofitable customers.

—Kumar Dawada

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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