I spent quite a few years working in the CRM space, many of those talking customer loyalty and retention strategy with some of the biggest brands out there.  In all of the conversations we would have with their customers, there was one consistent and familiar story which often went something like this:


"How did you become a customer of Brand B? Well, I was obviously aware of them in the market place, and they had a good reputation but I had been using brand A for a number of years and was very happy.  However, over time it was clear that Brand B had done their homework.  They managed to target me very well, they seemed to know the gaps that were not being filled by Brand A, and their offers were very compelling.  After a while, I guess I was seduced by the targeted and personal nature of the marketing and they won me over."


"What has been your experience since moving to Brand B?  Well, in the beginning, I guess all was well.  All of the expectations set were met, and for a while I was very happy.  But then I notices some subtle changes.  Small things at first - access to customer support seemed to take longer if you dialed the options for 'existing customer' than they did for 'new customer'.  Then I noticed that the deals for new customers were better than what I was getting - a so called 'loyal customer'.  I queried this and was given the brush off.   Over time, I began to get a sense that, now I had been 'acquired' I was somewhat less important than the next new customer in their line of sight.  I am beginning to regret moving away from Brand A and will definitely not be recommending Brand B to anyone."


This thought was in some way inspired by the latest HR Happy Hour Europe show that I listened to last night, hosted by the most excellent @steveboese@mervyndinnen and the Jobsite crew.  There was much talk about employer brand and talent acquisition and it struck me that as organisations, we might have become a little to obsessed with our need to 'acquire' new talent a little at the expense of the talent we already have.  The conversation resonated so highly with my experience on the customer side.  Indeed, you could re run the conversation above and instead supplant the 'customer' with 'candidate' and 'employee'.


As I have said before, the lines between customer and employee/potential employee are blurring.   There are many lessons we can learn from other parts of the business about engagement - its not just an HR issue.  We now have to look at these issues in a much more holistic way if we are to avoid making mistakes like the one above across the employee group too.   I hear the word 'Acquisition' used in a ratio probably 10 times greater than I do the word 'Retention', yet, as we used to say, "Retention is where the profit is."


What say you?

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