You should already know who your most profitable customers are, how to best contact them, and their purchasing preferences. If you don’t have a way to collect and manage this information (and more) about your customers, your company needs a customer relationship management strategy – and fast! In a perfect world, marketing and sales professionals would have time and resources to communicate in a highly personal way with each individual customer, creating nearly perfect relationships by offering a customer the right products or services, and making contact at the precise moment the customer realizes a need. In marketing, the term ‘one-to-one’ describes this ideal relationship – an exclusive loyalty between your company and the customer, focused on meeting each customer’s needs in the way that best matches his preferences and expectations.
“Knowing your customers is a fundamental rule for successful business,” says Nina Smith, Chief Market ing Officer for Sage Software. “There are myriad ways to know your customers – we take some 30,000 support calls daily, and each one of those helps to inform us of what’s important to our customers. The key is to listen, to gather information, and to use that information to make the customer experience better.”
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, the pioneers of ‘one-to-one’ customer relationship theory, have created a set of best practices to help businesses focus in on what matters most to customers – creating ideal conditions for business growth and competitive advantage. Traditionally, companies could not find cost effective ways to create personalized, relationship-strengthening communications with customers. But today, Peppers and Rogers argue, automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and fast, flexible marketing channels (such as e-mail and the internet) enable companies to create sustainable, interactive relationships with customers.
Let’s examine the four basic steps outlined by Peppers and Rogers for ensuring customer loyalty:
your best customers – those that purchase from your company again and again.
your most profitable customers from prospects
that are unlikely to purchase. What common preferences do your most important customers share? What characteristics in
prospects are good indicators that they will not purchase from you? Understand that some customers have a higher value to your organization than others.
with your customers. Don’t talk at them with your marketing – start a conversation. Learn their preferences and motivators (and record these). Interacting with customers will help you build on your knowledge to increase your rate of success.
the messages you present to each customer. Instead
of asking customers to purchase from your company in the way that is easiest for you invite them to purchase in the way that is
most satisfying to them. Use the information you gathered while interacting with your customers to attract new customers.