Assessing Customer Experiences

Last week this blog delved into statistics regarding customers who may have had a less than stellar experience when they visited your business. We discovered that the percentage of customers that you think were satisfied with their visit was not necessarily in line with the number of customers who actually were satisfied.

Also, we learned that only a small percentage of dissatisfied customers take the time to complain. The rest just don’t return.

After publication of this blog, I received an email from one reader regarding the best ways to contact customers. He was concerned that calling people may be intrusive and they may not be comfortable telling you what they really think. Good point and one that is raised regularly during seminars and conference sessions.

The first thing to do is to ask customers how they would like to be contacted. Would they be open to a phone call or prefer to be contacted via email, text or mail. How customers prefer to be contacted many times has to do with their generation. Text is the favorite for Millennials and younger people, while some Gen X or Boomers may prefer email or even mail. Step one is always to identify the wishes of individual customers.

If you don’t have this information on your individual customer records, procuring the information gives you a reason to call your regular customers and double check. Most of your regular customers are not going to mind an occasional phone call. In fact, in many cases it is going to strengthen your relationship with these customers as you are initiating a more personal interaction. While you are on the phone and the opportunity presents itself, this is a great time to tell the customer of any exciting opportunities to purchase. Remember that these people are regular customers because they like you and your products.

Once you have the information on how they want to be contacted, make sure you have the address or phone number in order to follow up. Also get their agreement (in writing) with a follow up email that you as them to sign and return.

Your consideration for how your customers wish to be contacted will just deepen the relationship you have with them and they will appreciate the courtesy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Getting Your Customers To Opt In

If you are collecting information from customers, make sure that they opt in (agree to your having their contact information). They must agree in writing and it must be unambiguous. For example, I receive many receipts via email from stores that I frequent regularly (such as office supply stores). When I use my credit card and sign for receipts to be sent to me by email that does not mean the store can start sending me other emails or texts related to sales or special offers without my express consent. So if you want to use emails and texts to communicate with your customers (and you should) you must have their permission to do so.

While emails are ubiquitous, texting is becoming more and more popular. Overall 32% of people would rather text than talk and with the Millennials that percent shoots up to an amazing 75%. In fact, a majority of consumers use their phones more for non-vocal communications than for calls. An article by attentiv.com states that an average of 0.4 texts per month were sent in 1995. In July of 2015 there were over 193,000 text messages sent per second via SMS and the number continues to increase.

The key to compiling a complete and effective CRM list is for everyone in the organization to be committed to the task. While it takes effort and a little extra time it is, in the long run, well worth the effort everyone puts in. When people visit your business, call, text or email, request information from them so that you may contact them later.

Start in the store if you have a retail business and make sure you expand this to phone calls and email contact. The staff should have cards that they give to visitors who have shown a specific interest in your products or business. This card should ask for their name, address, cell phone and e-mail; it may also ask for information about how they found out about your business and what they are most interested in. Primarily, it should allow them to opt in to receive information from you.

Phrase the request in a way that there is a benefit to the customers for example:

Occasionally we will send information with offers or special benefits, may we send them to you.

                                                Yes                   No

Once the customer has signed the card, s/he has then “opted in” that is given you permission to contact them. Additionally, make sure your customers know your customer privacy policy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Create Invaluable Customer Records

At the start of a new year, it’s good to think about things that you want to accomplish for the coming year. A worthwhile task before the busy sales season is to ensure that your customer records are accurate and up to date.

In addition to the basics, the name of the customer and their contact history (including address, email address and phone numbers – business and mobile) make sure that the customer’s transaction history is accurate and up to date. It’s important that you know what, when, why and in what quantities your customers purchased your products, whether they buy for others as well as for themselves. Having this kind of information will allow you to segment your audiences and structure your advertising and offers in more individual ways. Knowing how much customers have purchased gives you an easy way to assess their value to your business.

Also is important to create a personal profile for each of your regular customers. This information could include age, gender, profession, spouse’s name, income, hobbies, children’s names and even the charities they support. Don’t forget to ask if they have pets and the names of those pets. People are very attached to their animals.

Keep track of any individual correspondence you have with your customers as this can give you insight regarding their views and opinions.

Customer information is built up over time as you informally learn about your customers.

When customers are in your place of business, casually ask them questions about themselves (most Americans quite like that) and offer a little information about yourself to balance the conversation. If you are asking for information via email or a questionnaire couch the request in a way that will appeal to the customer. For example “In order to provide you with service and offers more suited to your personal needs, please complete this short questionnaire.” And please, if you do use questionnaire, do keep them short.

Most businesses these days use CRM systems. The most important word of the three in Customer Relationship Marketing is Relationship. Establishing real relationships with your customers will create strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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