We all know it’s logical to keep in regular contact with our customers; it’s so much easier to cross sell services and products to an existing customer than generate a new one and sell to them, but how many of us actually do it effectively?
There’s an argument to support “less is more” with customer communication certainly when the reaction to direct mail, e-mail, texts or tweets can generate more negative than positive feedback when poorly executed.
Recent examples of this poor execution – the bombardment of literature from supermarkets to purchase their credit card, one reason not to use their loyalty card. Another, the apparent lack of geographic understanding from a major motor brand who are trying to connect me to their showroom over 200 miles away when they have an outlet in my town. An example of competing branches of the same business. That’s postal junk but worse than that these days is the over abundance of junk e-mail. Bad enough when spammers pepper your in-box with unwanted, unfocussed annoyances but it’s somehow ten times worse when a company you have a connection with abuse that relationship by overdoing the selling and ignore your unsubscribe requests.
Even if you’ve blocked unsolicited calls to your home companies believe they have the right to call you up at weekends and sell you anything from insurance to charitable donations and don’t act upon your requests for them to stop.
Turning back to the process and our responsibility – our job as marketers is to think about the customer experience, appreciate the multiude of messages they receive each day and not try and battle for airtime, eyeballs or ears in a clumsy manner more likely to turn them off rather than on to our offering.
We do need to work at a communication strategy that resonates with our customers, understands their position and speaks directly to them. This strategy and its implementation will take time, consideration and no little effort on our part but is absolutely worth it.
An oft touted stat says that it costs six times more to win a new customer than to sell on to a past or existing customer. That may have some truth, specifics will depend on the sector you’re in but it is an over simplification that can overlook damage that may be done just lumping out messages without a plan.
Certainly the opportunity exists but is dependent on a series of very important factors:
1. For the best possible chance to have a successful customer campaign you need to have in place a carefully thought through communication strategy and plan with specific objectives.
2. A detailed database of customers who’ve granted permission for you to continue to communicate.
3. An ability to create tailored communications to each customer. Nothing worse than a “Dear Sir or Madam” letter, you’re supposed to know them.
4. Systems that track the effectiveness of communications, email, social media post or in person to ensure action can be taken when you receive positive or potentially negative responses.
5. The creation of content which is ideally suited to the needs of the target customer i.e. newsletter sharing tips on entertaining and educating children for families where there are young children or an offer of a discount at your restaurant for those celebrating a special occasion having a note of customers date of birth or anniversary and referring to it in the communication.
6. Keep up to date i.e. systems to capture and improve data on customers to include their social media account details.
Having been successful in acquiring a customer we shouldn’t assume that they will buy everything we have to offer or even come back as a repeat purchaser of the same product or service.
The most important tip is to be original and focussed on the customer. If offering a discount make it meaningful, if giving advice make it relevant to their circumstances.
David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP