Your attention to customer relationships always pays off – either for you or your competitors.
In my last post we met the creative director for a large communications company who was discomfited with her existing printer and looking for a better match. I discussed the all-too-common causes of customer relationship issues that I see almost every day.
Today, I’ll dig more into the ways you can manage your relationships with your customers to keep them from being lured away by some opportunist, like me.
Be thoughtful, attentive and creative about your communications. Some automated communication – postcards, email, letters, for example – is practical in getting the word out about your new store, special offer or that you’re still here, better than ever. However, while they might trigger a stampede to your sale, they won’t make your audience feel like you were reaching out to shake hands with just them.
Personalizing your communications is really fairly easy, even on a large scale. Capture the easy milestones. Know their birthdays? Or, the date they became your customers? Hi Julie or Hello Bob on postcards gets Julie’s and Bob’s attention, and suggests your making an effort at a personal overture.
When customers reach the preferred ranks, your gestures need to reflect their status. They’re more than acquaintances now. These individuals are no longer customers. They buy products like yours only from you and never look at the price tag. You should welcome them by their first names and shake their hands with both of yours as a somewhat poorer local printer can attest. Handwritten notes on personal stationary should replace email. (No. Email marketing using the Zaphino font is not the same thing.) When gifts are appropriate, monogram them.
Or, how about this for a crazy idea – call them on the telephone. Seriously, many smartphones now come with this app.
Continue growing all of these relationships by being genuinely helpful. Assist with useful guidance, especially if there’s nothing in it for you. Don’t be a stranger. Drop by to ensure all is going well. Send them case studies, white papers, newsletters and articles that will have value to them. Refer prospects.
Yes, and sales promotions, which will be much more warmly received. Remind them you appreciate their business and your relationship with them.
Having said all this, I have to admit, my new communications company client came really cheap and easy. I want to extend my personal appreciation. I’m just not sure to whom.
We’ve all made mistakes in managing customer relationships. What are your biggest ones and how could you have avoided them? Don’t be afraid. Be honest and candid. Feel free to use a pseudonym if you really blew it. Our mistakes are how we learn, right?
What other topics are of interest? Let us know and we’ll try hard to cover them, or get an expert to do it. Want to share your experience? Let us know. We’re eager to share this space.