Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Client Lifetime Value (CLV)

In a Harvard Business Review called "Why satisfied customers defect", Jones & Sasser explain that even a 80% 'satisfied clients score', is no guarantee for sustainable success.

Common management misconceptions are:
  1. A client satisfaction level below complete or total satisfaction is adequate.
  2. It's not profitable to invest in changing customers from 'satisfied' to 'completely satisfied'.

Their conclusion is that, in most cases, 'complete customer satisfaction' is key in order to secure customer loyalty and generate sustainable financial performance.

Loyalty & Satisfaction
Despite of what sometimes intuitively is assumed, the relationship between loyalty and satisfaction is in most cases not linear, but depends on the competition level of a specific market segment.

In a Dutch presentation, called "CRM Myths", direct marketing professor Janny Hoekstra confirms this relationship and shows that even 'satisfied clients' are in the so called 'indifference zone'.

The 'art of client management' is obviously to create 'Apostles' and to avoid creating 'Terrorists'.

So stimulate, instead of discourage, your clients to give you feedback and to complain, because this is the only way to create new apostles.

A relatively new and, according to Harvard (The One Number You Need to Grow), probably better method to measure client loyalty is the 'Net Promoter Score' (NPS). Simply score your clients on a 0-10 points scale on the question: "Would you recommend company X ?'

Now simply calculate the NPS score (%) as:
NPS = Promoters% (rating 9&10) - Detractors% (rating 6 or less)

NPS scores of 75% or more prove world class loyalty.

Loyalty effect
Another, intuitively driven, perception is that the more customers are loyal, the more they generate profit.

In general this seems true, however as Hoekstra shows: not every 'more loyal' client is also per definition 'more profitable'.

Just like Reinartz (Insead) stated in his article : 'Not all custumors are equal'.

Reinartz defines different client groups called: Butterflies, Strangers, True Friends and Barnacles.

Each group urges a different approach in a Customer Client Strategy.

Investing in 'True friends' appears essential and eventually pays out.

Customer Lifetime Value
Actuaries that combine marketing an actuarial sciences could help by defining and calculating what is called: The Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The CLV of a specific client(group) could be defined as the discounted value of the yearly margin (m = profits - costs), with discounting rate (i) and the (client) retention rate (r).

CLV:Rule of thumb
In the strongly simplified case with constant margin, the CLV - as a rule of thumb - could be defined as the margin (m) multiplied with the so called margin multiple = r/(1+i-r).

Example: Discount rate = i =12%, Retention rate = r = 90%, results in a CLV of approximately 4 times the yearly margin.

As is clear from the formula and table above, the choice and impact of the discount rate is only significant in combination with a high (>90%) retention rate.

Modeling and creating Client Value is not only in the interest of the shareholder, but moreover a case of creating creating added value for clients, in particular 'best satisfied clients'.

More info at: Modeling CLV(insurance), Customer Metrics

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