Retaining Customers a Top Priority for Businesses, Study Finds

A report from Hurwitz & Associates finds cost-conscious businesses are most concerned with attracting and retaining customers.

While small business owners have many concerns heading into 2010, finding ways to attract and retain customers is by far their top priority. That is the message drawn from a survey of small businesses by research firm Hurwitz & Associates and sponsored by Protus, provider of Web-based communication tools Campaigner, MyFax and My1voice.

According to the recently published "Small Business Marketing Health Check," 50 percent of small businesses surveyed placed attracting and retaining customers at the top of their list of business challenges for the upcoming year. The closely related "growing revenue" was second on the list at 15 percent. Improving cash flow, maintaining profitability and achieving better lead generation were also among the responses, said the firm.

"Customers are always important, but in difficult economic times every customer relationship becomes even more precious," said Joseph Nour, CEO of Protus. "Small businesses want to avoid churning customers, since it can cost as much as five times more to attract new customers than retain existing ones. The best strategy is to build a stable customer base and then work on attracting new customers from there. Maintaining quality communications is a critical part of that strategy."

Nour said Protus, which provides SAAS (software-as-a-service) communications tools for SMB and enterprise organizations, offers several online tools that help small businesses attract and retain customers. "Operating a small business can be challenging under any circumstances, but in the current economy of scarce credit, soft spending and decreased cash flow it is particularly difficult to compete with the bigger companies," said Nour. "Protus' online communications tools help small businesses weather the current storm by attracting and retaining customers today. They also position those organizations for growth and success when the economy does turn around."

The company's solutions include Campaigner, a targeted, automatic e-mail marketing service that supports the creation and distribution of professional e-mail marketing campaigns. The tool is user-friendly and provides more than 450 professional e-mail templates and online forms to grow contact lists.

My1voice is a virtual phone service for small business that helps companies improve direct communications with customers and prospects through features such as a virtual receptionist, unlimited extensions, enhanced voicemail, smart call forwarding, voicemail to e-mail, and other capabilities.

Finally, the company's MyFax solution helps businesses manage faxes and the costs associated with them by allowing faxes to be sent and received over the Internet. Faxes are sent through an e-mail account or secure online server rather than a fax machine.