Today’s post, for the most part, is about optimally utilizing your customer database. This is part two of last week’s post on client intimacy which is the sophomore helping for the “Spending 10 Minutes on Your Business” series. Reading Part One supplements part two so I hope you take the time to enjoy both installments.
In part one, the need for, as well as several methods of, customer data acquisition was tackled extensively. Using the data to develop further customer intimacy is the fun part. So, let’s get right into it.
Make sure you can collect and store the data in a systematic way. Sure, if you can put it together in some kind of a content management system – that’s fantastic! But, if your business isn’t at that stage yet there’s nothing wrong with paper and pen! Keep a list of customers that come in. Write down the simple things that they might mention. Remember their names, remember the names of their kids, remember the names of their pets – all of these things have an emotional connection with the customer. You’ll be amazed by how much people are actually prepared to tell you about themselves; but the trick of course, is that you have got to ask. There is never any reason to stop the flow of information from clients and none of it is ever absent of use to your business.
One thing that you can do is to remember client preferences. For instance, I fly a lot and when I fly with Virgin, I get on the plane and my preferences for what I like to eat and where I like to sit are already in the system. Imagine the experience of not having to ask for a particular seat because the service has it ready for you before you even ask. As mentioned in part one [link], tailor-fitting for clients is valuable in developing intimacy. By taking note of preferences, you know precisely what your clients want and can readily make this available to them. This makes doing business with you much easier – and if you have read part one, you already know how important that is as well. [supply links to part one]
Making the Invisible Visible
The other thing can be based off the old saying, ‘you need to make the invisible visible’. If you’ve had a connection with a customer or you are working on things for that customer and perhaps something is taking a bit longer than it should, it may be that you are waiting for something to come in or maybe you can’t supply something, don’t stay quiet about it! Keep the customer connected and continue to tell them what’s going on.
I remember reading a story once told by the then curator of the art gallery of New South Wales. He was saying that when he went to barbeques on the weekends, people would say “Is there anything on at the art gallery this weekend?” They were talking about special shows or new exhibits, but it used to frustrate him. He’d say “You know what? There is always something at the art gallery.” The lesson is there is always something that you can communicate to your customers. There is always something going on in your business – staff changes, new products, new services, and, even someone having a baby or getting married. There is a whole bunch of things that you can share in order to make a connection with your customers. Telling them about business-related things shows how serious and vibrant your business is and relaying special occasions regarding your personnel tells people your business fosters a close-knit community. Both of which draws clients into being open to a closer connection with your business.
Sending newsletters, as well as seasonal and annual greetings, whether through the post or the internet, is good practice. I remember running into the wife of a client in a supermarket recently. I actually hadn’t worked with this client for about 18 months. She said to me “Hi Mark just wanted to say thank you for the wedding anniversary card; you remembered, he didn’t.” So, the first thing that I did with that was get into the database and make a note to actually ring this particular client a week before the anniversary the next year. I’ve saved his life for three years running now, and he appreciates it very much and we have got a great relationship.
Communicate Beyond Sales
It’s the very simple things that you can do to develop client intimacy. So, whether you’re sending news, greetings or handwritten notes, the big thing to keep in mind is that it isn’t always about selling opportunities, rather it is about the cornerstone of the concept of customer intimacy. What you’re looking to do is to build relationships and lasting connections. If all you do with your database is constantly send people things that you are trying to sell them, they will switch off. If all they get are offers and updated price lists, they will switch off. They are likely to ignore just about anything you send.
Try to show up with things that do not require payment, perhaps news about your business, community or new information in fields related to their business with you. This helps keep an open perception towards your correspondence and they are more likely to keep what you send out of the trash bin.
The Value of Physical Mail
We produce a magazine every couple of months. It’s a paper copy and we post it out and the reason for that is, and I encourage you to think about this, because obviously it’s an expensive way to market. If you have got a mass market and you’re sending out to thousands and thousands of people, it’s too expensive. Alternatively, what you can do is take a select number of people, and actually send them something in the mail. When was the last time you got something in the mail that didn’t have a window face on it and was asking for money from you? All we get in the mail box these days are bills! Imagine if instead you get a personalised card – a hand written note saying something like “Hi George, I just wanted to touch base so that you know everything’s going really well here, we’ve missed you lately” or “I haven’t seen you at the gym” or “we haven’t seen you donating to us.” Whatever it might be; make that connection! Don’t ask them for anything, just let them know that you know they are there and that you are there for them as well.
Start with what you have, now!
I’m now challenging you to go get your team to think about and implement new ways to connect with your customers. I don’t need to remind you that the best time to do it is immediately – there’s no reason to start it next season or the next quarter – start it now! Get in front of your customer database as soon as you can and start cultivating client intimacy with each and every one.
Do be back next week as we continue with the “Spending 10 Minutes On Your Business” series.
I’m Mark Creedon from Red Monkey Coaching.