The Internet has radically changed the process companies conduct business in the last decade. Shopping can now be done all hours day and night through the internet. You can now electronically order, deliver and consume products and services in an a snap . Customers take hold of their goods within hours of being ordered. While more and more people switch to online shopping, businesses need to translate the other elements that make up a good buyer experience into the online channel. Live chat, online phones or interactive voice response systems are now the norm.
Unfortunately, if you’re not making use of a client database to connect your clients online, you are undoubtedly lagging behind.
What Separates Companies Today
These days ,competition is stiffer than ever. Product quality is not what is being fought in the battle arena alone; in fact, it is expected and provides no competitive advantage to your small business. Customer service is now the basis that allows a few companies the opportunity to get ahead while their competition crashes and burns. As a result, a more responsive customer service experience is what customers expect and demand. Delivering high-availability, high-quality customer service is however neither simple nor cheap.
Strategies must therefore be used. Realistically, you can’t expect to give the same or equal service to every single client. Suppose you have more than 500 clients? Although your natural instinct will be to try to address all their demands for fear that one missed step could cost you a valuable customer, you soon realize that no amount of effort, time and money you put into your business will allow you to satisfy everyone. You might ask if it would be possible at all to run a business that is both profitable and with a high level of customer service?
Categorize, Analyze, and Strategize Your Next Steps
The answer is an emphatic YES! But first you need to recognize that not all customers are the same. We all learned the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule). In the majority of businesses, 80% of your revenues is derived from just 20% of your clients. So think about this for a second, if your revenue comes only from such a small fraction of clients, don’t you think you should provide a different level of service to them? Isn’t it prudent to spend more effort on this select group of clients instead? And since these customers are the ones that keep your business thriving, is it not fitting that you take utmost care of them?
Just who exactly are these people and how do you identify the key clients in the mass database of customers you may have? This is why you must categorize your contacts into high-value and low-value customers. Customers that bring in the most amount of sales into your business are your high-value clients. Sorting your clients by the amount they spend with you is one way to segment them. Another would be cost of sale to get at who is profitable and not just producing revenue. It is extremely important to give special treatment to your high-profit clients because it increases the chances of client retention, thus protecting your income stream.
We usually use email as a means of communication, and the client segmentation allows us to separate the message based on customer level. Special promotions letting them know they are highly thought of customers just increases the probability for more sales. You can go the extra mile by making a personal call without any attempts to sell. Treat your client to a cup of coffee, sandwiches or bring in pizza (food works). These seemingly inconsequential acts of preference make a huge difference to your customer-client relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you give awful service to your lower-value group. A client database system will allow you to appropriately service both groups – effectively and efficiently, without letting anyone feel unimportant.
Your client database can be your best tool in categorizing your clients based upon value to the business so that you can ensure that service for each category is appropriate.
How can you use this for your small business marketing?
Using your client database, you can:
(a) Track and monitor the buying preferences of your high-value clients so that you can send newsletters or promos relevant to their purchases, promoting opportunities for future up-selling and cross-selling.
(b) Automate contact with lower value customers, communicatin with them without taking up too much valuable time, yet still presenting them with new products and services they might be interested in.
A client database software is a repository of your customers’ general info such as demographical data, buying preferences, history, customer activity and interaction with your company. This distinguishing information gives you the edge to better deliver the satisfaction every unique buyer seeks; after all, you have a grasp on each and every customer’s personality.
The art of communication is the language of leadership.
In this high-tech, high-competition world, the value of using the customer information is the essential link between your team and your customers. A client database is the basic tool that helps you generate those distinctions.
The above post was a guest posting to the Smart Blog that I thought might provide a wake-up call to those small business owners who aren’t talking to that valuable resource of customers stuck in your PCs. Tell the world about what you’re doing to tailor your message to clients by commenting below.