In a world where customers control the relationship, if you want to continue to have a relationship, you need to provide something of value to them and profitable to you. When you communicate with them you need to provide information both relevant to their needs and profitable to you.
To do this you need to cross four bridges: know each customer’s value, identify each customer, understand each customer’s needs and make the communications two way:
1. Know each customer’s value
Differentiating according customer value will enable you to evaluate and prioritize your marketing communications more effectively.
There are three broad value categories:
These are your most valuable customers and they generate the major part of your profit. Your key goal for this segment is retention and delivering integrated communication.
However, delivering an integrated communications plan requires commitment from your entire company. It’s imperative that senior management are committed to implementing this retention strategy across the entire organization including: sales channels, call centers, marketing, and operations.
Often times I have seen programmes of this type fail because of the inability of functional silos to work together. In convincing senior management of the need for this commitment remind them that your competitors are constantly targeting these people so it’s critical that your communications are effective.
Customers in this area have some current value to your business and the potential to move into the high value customer group. Unlocking the true value of these customers through the implementation of a communications strategy that draws these customers into doing more business with you will result in more valuable customers.
Unfortunately, here are always some customers that are unprofitable now and will never be profitable. While some would suggest that the you actively discourage these customers. I prefer to suggest that you utilize low cost communications channels to minimize the investment you continue to make in them.
2. Identify each customer
It sounds simple enough but it’s imperative that you know how to contact your customers; including having the correct name and contact details. This may sound obvious, yet many companies still do not have good processes for keeping customer records updated.
Do you actively capture email addresses? What about mobile/cell numbers?
The address problem is rife in email communication. Many companies do not have a system to update email addresses in a timely manner, resulting in the loss of all contact with the customer when their email address changes.
Email address obsolescence can be as high as 30% per year meaning that you have to really work at keeping this data up to date.
Just as harmful to customer relationships are misspelled names, not just once but over and over again. In a customer’s mind, “if you can’t even spell my name correctly how can you have a relationship with me.” It may only be a few letters to you but it’s vital to your customer.
3. Understand each customer’s needs
In order to cut through all the advertising noise, you need to communicate value add information using an appropriate channel for the customer. This can be done by understanding your customer’s needs; then applying the communications tool and appropriate message that meets those needs.
Personalized messages that meet customer’s needs and are appropriate to a customer’s value can be created to enhance your marketing communications. By communicating effectively with your customers, you start to build and nurture relationships with them.
4. Make the communications two way
For effective implementation of integrated marketing communications, customers must be able to communicate easily with your company. This two way communication is a huge opportunity for the company to keep in touch with customers changing needs and expectations.
Enterprise feedback management is a critical tool in understanding what is important to you customers. This is one of the most important ways to make the communications process two way.