Relationship marketing is about developing long term relationships
with the customer. A company needs to be able to turn a one off sale
into a fruitful long-tem relationship. The aim of relationship marketing is to retain
existing customers, as attracting new customers is six times more expensive than holding onto existing customers. The ladder of customer loyalty is about the different loyalty relationships customers have with businesses .There are five steps in the ladder of customer loyalty, each step represents one type of customer based on their loyalty to the business.
A suspect is someone who comes across your company’s promotion.
They are a suspect for your company.
If the person is interested in your promotion they become a
prospect. The climb up the ladder has begun, its marketing's job to give them a "helping hand" to get up the ladder.
A customer is someone who purchases either your product or service. This stage needs to go well to encourage customers to come back and buy from you.
Clients are those who come back to the business and make ongoing purchases. There is something about the firm that they like. Relationship marketing may enable you to identify what that is, so that you can plan how to get them to the ultimate stage - Advocate.
An advocate promotes your business on your behalf. They are so happy about your
product/service that they not only buy from you again and again but also tells others about you. An advocate is a valuable asset and should be looked after for example through loyalty rewards, discounts, freebies invites to promotional events and excellent customer service.
It is prudent for businesses to spend money on retaining customers. If customers are happy with a firm they will become advocates and
bring in business from their friends and family. To turn suspects into advocates will require the whole organisation as customers will need to be satisfied every single time they come into contact with the business. This includes face to face, telephone and internet contact with the business. It can take a very long time to build advocates but only one negative contact with the firm can send advocates down the ladder back to prospects.