Your customer base (your current customers) is one of your target markets – in fact your most important target market, they are your bread and butter, they are the ones keeping you in business (A bird in hand is worth more than 10 even 15 in the bush). They deserve all the attention your priority target market gets. Aside from the fact that they buy from you, they give you three up-side opportunities: Repeat Business, Referrals, and Reputation.
It is more expensive bringing in one new customer than making ten existing ones happy and keeping them. If I have to choose, I will take the later.
Newsflash: Current customers are the ones that get ignored by most businesses – in fact not just ignored, but taken for granted.
Loyal, repeat customers are often the key to long term business success, but it takes a lot of time and effort cultivating relationships to build such a customer base. Customer retention requires great communication, and it must be leveraged properly to achieve the financial and business benefits you want. While it does take time, it does not have to be a difficult process.
I am a very strong advocate of a regular communication with your customers, by regular I don’t mean every day before you piss some off. If you want to keep your customers you have to pay attention to them. Keep them aware of the value they receive from you. Continually court them. And always keep and exceed your promise to them. And one of the ways to do this is through communicating with them and you can only communicate with them if you have at least their basic data – name, phone number and email address, though you need to have much more than these ones.
You can easily get them by building the collection of these data into your business process e.g. how Domino Pizza collect customer data when you enter any of their outlets in Lagos (I have not visited them in any other city yet but am sure it will be same). They built it into their business process (at customer service point). I will talk about Domino Pizza down the line.
Gathering customer information should be easy. Just identify the points of access in your business and create a ‘’tool’’ to collect the information you want. Ensure it is done in a way that respects your customers and does not annoy them.
The points of access are those points in your processes at which you have some interactions with your customers’ e.g.
Lead generation points (the points of catching their interest)
Lead conversion points (the points of converting them into customer)
Client fulfilment points (the points of serving or attending to them)
A key point to remember is that customers will think that some information are too personal or may expose them to risk. So how do you get sensitive information? Three ways:
Show them the Benefit
Assure them that their Privacy is Protected
Depersonalize the Information (E.g. in age and income put them in range e.g. 30 – 40yrs)
Yes, some customers just won’t give you information they consider sensitive no matter how respectful you and no matter how well you protect their privacy. Sometimes you simply can’t get them all.
Customer Information Collection Plan
Categories of Customer Communication
These types of communications are integral to doing business with a business. Examples are: bills, account statements, changes in procedure, changes of contractual agreements, etc. these types of communication are thought of as being important by the customer and maybe taken serious.
These are attempts to sell something to the customer. Sales communications have a credibility problem and customers view them with scepticisms. They are assumed by the customer to be self-serving and only beneficial to the company. You need to be smart and creative with this communication type.
Let me tell you a small story: one day my kids said we should go out for pizza, after a lengthy negotiation (they are good in such negotiations, though at times they add some emotional blackmail) I agreed and off we went to Domino Pizza (my first time there). There were two ladies at the service point, one asked the size of pizza and topping I wanted, I told her and then she asked for my name I also told her, she asked for my phone number, I pretended to be surprised and asked why she needs my phone number even though I know why, I just wanted to know what she will say, I gave her the number (now they have my name and number). Notice that they built-in their customer data collection at a very strategic access point – the sales or service point – that is the point where the most interaction with their customers occur.
We finished our pizza and left, even though I was forced or talked into buying more things other than the pizza we agreed on before leaving home.
One day I got a call from them asking why I have not been coming to buy pizza from them. I was not happy about that call, not because of what they said but because of the opportunities they are missing in building a community of loyal customers (CUSTOMER DATA IS A VERY STRONG AND POWERFUL TOOL FOR BUSINESS GROWTH, you should learn how to use them rightly). Sincerely the call affected my ‘’buying of their pizza’’ negatively), I thought to myself they only care about my buying their pizza and nothing else.
Time (the customers and theirs) and energy was spent collecting the data. If calling people and asking them why they have not been coming to buy pizza and also sending text messages of buy one pizza and get a free drink (though not much is wrong with the later) is all they do with it, then I will say – bad communication strategy and waste of resources.
These types are perceived to be for the customers benefit. E.g. product information and news letters (if not sales oriented and full of hype), announcements of changes that affects customers, etc. these type are thought to be important by customers.
Let me use our lovely pizza guys as an example once again. Domino Pizza is into food business and they have a variety of ingredients for preparing their pizza.
Sending out regular information to their customers on the nutritional benefits of food items, especially the ones they use in making their pizza, will not only be seen as being beneficial and offering information to the customers, it will also bring the customers back asking for more of the toppings with those food items. Examples:
Do you know that the vitamin D in mushrooms has also been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by contributing to the regulation of the cell growth cycle?
The regular consumption of onion has been shown to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and also lower blood sugar level
Chicken is a very good source of iron, with perhaps the highest concentration of iron than any other commonly consumed meat.
The above examples combined with other creative communications will not be seen by the customer as ‘’trying to sell’’ even though they will end up always bringing the customers back, besides they are also seen as being beneficial to the customer.
Even if you are not in the pizza business, you can do similar creative things. The strategy is always Keep your customers aware of the value they receive from you and communicate in such a way that you will be at the ‘’top of their mind’’ that whenever they need the kind of product or service you offer, you will be the first to come to their mind.
Customer Communication Plan
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