Everyone has them — and loves them. And why not? These are the customers who never complain, who keep coming back, who pay promptly and who appear satisfied. When we raise prices, they don’t ask why. Nothing seems to bother them, even when we make a mistake. They never show up on our radar screen. Some have been around so long, they’re virtually invisible. Admit it. We take them for granted.

If we want to put a label on this type of behavior, we call it passive customer loyalty.

If there ever were a case for letting sleeping dogs lie, it seems as if this is it. Unfortunately, that can be — and often is — a dangerous and costly mistake. And here’s why. Much to our surprise, these are customers who quietly disappear. We don’t miss them until they’re gone, and then we’re confused as to why they left us. “I can’t understand it; they didn’t seem to have a problem,” we say. “What in the world ever happened?”

Active customer loyalty is quite different. It comes about from constant attention and cultivation. It’s the direct result of reinforcing how much we appreciate all our customers, including the silent ones. It means we’re always looking for new ways to refresh customer interest, feedback and loyalty. All this is very much worth the effort. Once customers are gone, they’re lost forever. And that gets really expensive.

Graham, of GrahamComm, is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” Reach him at johnrg31@me.com, (617) 774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.

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