I'd like to hear some thoughts on measuring customer retention; the business I work in (wholesale financial services distribution) creates some wrinkles that makes straightforward measurement difficult.
Our customers are third party financial advisors (Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, Wachovia, Edward Jones, etc.). The advisor recommends our products (life insurance, annuities, mutual funds) to their clients. Our sales people call on the advisor just the same as pharmaceutical sales reps call on doctors. The advisor can use our product, or any one of hundreds of competitors products. They do not have any contractual obligation or relationship to us. Additionally, the frequency with which they use our products with their clients is consistent in some cases, sporadic in others.
My question is this: how do we know we are being effective at retaining customers if we don't know the point at which a customer has stopped using our product?
Pharmaceutical sales is analagous, as is the catalog sales business. Any thoughts?