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What Is a Customer Base?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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A customer base is a group of customers who could be served by a business. Many people define this term as only the consumers who already patronize a business, but others include any consumer with certain purchasing characteristics in this category, even if that customer has yet to be convinced to enter the store or take advantage of a product. Within the larger group is a smaller subset of customers made up of loyal shoppers, also called repeat customers. It is generally considered an essential part of business strategy to convert every customer into repeat customers, although not every business aims to expand the customer base itself.

There are many theories about how to build a customer base. These range from advertising to providing good customer service to special promotions. Customers who are lured to the store by any mechanism are therefore potential consumers, and so may be treated as part of the customer base. The challenge then becomes convincing these customers to come back.

Repeat customers are usually the most important part of the business's customer base, because these customers are willing to spend money at the store consistently. These customers may also advertise the store's positive qualities and spread the store's name by word of mouth. Some kinds of businesses may not have customers who frequently shop at the establishment because of the type of product sold, such as large purchases like a television or computer. These businesses may benefit from customers who would repeat the experience without regret, though they will not shop at that establishment again for some time, because these customers will often tell other potential consumers of their positive experience.

Not all customer bases are pre-existing, because not all businesses are designed to fulfill a need in the community. For instance, a business may offer a specific service with certain appeal that creates a customer pool that did not exist before, giving people a service they didn't even know they needed.

Thinking about customers as a unified group with certain purchasing characteristics may not always be the best way to keep customers happy. Keeping the customer in mind is important, but designing a business that only fulfills the needs and expectations of the customer without any standards independent of the consumer may not result in the best business. Innovative business thinking involves a constantly shifting perception of both the customer's needs and the business's goals, and the knowledge to adapt the business's course to meet these ends.

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Discussion Comments
By sunshine31 — On Nov 08, 2010

SauteePan-Wow that sounds nice. I know that many of the cruise lines offer you a discount on subsequent cruises and offer you a higher status than a regular passenger.

The status is dependent on the amount of cruises that you have taken. These premier members get access to a special lounge on the ship and they also get to dine with the Captain.

In addition, they also get discounted rates on additional cruises and really get offered the V.I.P. treatment.

They also have different colored keys in order to denote their special status. They usually try to get you to book your next cruise while on the ship in order to retain you as a customer. They provide additional incentives to make it more likely that you would go on another cruise.

By SauteePan — On Nov 08, 2010

I usually get free gift cards from the Aveda store and Vera Bradley. I really like that they remember my birthday and when I go to the store, I usually spend more money.

So this is a great way to acknowledge my birthday and at the same time get me to continue to buy more products once I am in the store. I know with Vera Bradley they send you a gift card valued up to like $25.

So even if you buy a handbag and have to spend some more money, you always justify it by saying that you got a huge discount and it is your birthday. Not too many companies take advantage of this opportunity and it is really a good one to not only build customer loyalty, but reward a customer who has been loyal.

By Moldova — On Nov 08, 2010

Comfyshoes-Every time I buy a car, I always get a customer survey in the mail. They always ask me questions about the customer experience and how the salesman treated me.

I think that sometimes surveys can be misleading because usually it is the people that have had bad experiences that tend to fill those out and unfortunately, those that have had a good experience often forgo filling out the survey.

It is just like when you have a negative experience with a business, you tend to tell everyone, but the good experience doesn’t usually get as much attention unless someone asks for a referral.

Determining how to keep the customer base with any business happy is the only way to stay in business. Customer data should be entered in a database and the staff should establish the based customer relationship and continue contact to the customer to ensure that the customer was satisfied.

It could be as simple as sending a thank you gift when you buy a car and later follow up and send you a coupon for a discounted oil change or some other car related service. This is a good way to keep your customer’s satisfied and loyal throughout the years. It could also include a free birhtday gift. This form of customer base management is successful because it is targeted and unique to each customer.

By comfyshoes — On Nov 08, 2010

A customer experience is critical to any business. Maintaining customer retention is so important that many companies have resorted to follow up customer surveys in order to receive feedback on the customer’s experience.

The customer service data is then entered in a customer service data base that allows the company an opportunity to enhance the product offerings or expand its service potential.

This is particularly important with a new model or flavor of product. Sometimes a company will provide a free product or a discount on the next purchase in order to fill out the survey.

Resorts and entertainment venues like Disney World often try to receive as much feedback from their seasoned guests in order to determine how they can enhance the experience overall.

You will often see new rides and the removal of others as a result. In addition, you will also see changes in the food provided in the park with additional healthier options available in terms of food choices.

his is all due to customer demand and the changes are based on customer relationship management which is based on customer service.

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