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Customer Contact - To know is to manage.

Contributing Solution Provider

Customer Contact - To know is to manage.

"Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo? How can I connect with you, Romeo?"

 

As long as it took you to read those two sentences above is about as much time a prospective customer will give you before they move on to the next company.

 

The key word Juliet said is “connect.” Can you imagine an auditorium full of people waiting for a concert to start? There is a lot of noise because there are thousands of conversations occurring simultaneously while waiting for the show to start. The only conversations that “connect” are usually between people who know each other, are very close to each other or they are shouting at the top of their lungs.

 

Quick point #1. What a company must do today is to create the ability to connect, and do it quickly.

Just as you have a circle of friends on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, start to sort all potential customers from your collected data. What you need to do is to bring your customer into focus (take the blur out of the picture). Search in your QuickBooks, the piles of business cards scattered around your desk, email contacts, friends on social media, or just about anywhere you’d put a potential customer for future contact. For now let’s call them contacts.

 

Next, you need to put these contacts into like segments, people who wear glasses, for example. It may be something as simple as male or female, geography, age, occupation, but use whatever simple characteristics stand out across all contacts. You may already find that you have multiple groups with similar characteristics.

 

Quick point #2. “Why do I need to do this?”

Go back to Juliet’s search for Romeo. The key word in that search phrase was “connect.” You need to connect with customers and potential customers with a message relevant to their needs, such as Juliet and Romeo.

 

Let’s get back to the segments. I recommended you start simple and limit the amount of segments, especially in the beginning, otherwise it may become confusing. Talk with others in your company and ask their opinion on who is a good customer? What are the buying traits of this customer?

 

Hopefully you will discover multiple groups based on answers to your questions and your analysis. If not, you probably own a monopoly, so there is no need to go any further.

 

Quick point #3. Let's take a look at your potential customer profile.

You may have or not have a defined customer profile. But for this exercise, what type of customers do I presently have? Remember, keep it simple. Put customers, anyone who has purchased into one group and the other who might still purchase, into the prospect group.

 

Return to your list of customer types. Do they know what they want (look at purchase history and lead time from your first encounter to a purchase) or they are not sure? Eventually the second segment made a purchase but it had a longer lead time. Did something finally happen that made this purchase occur? If you can’t answer that question, put it aside for now. It’s food for thought as you move forward in getting a better understanding of your customer base.

 

Quick point #4. Let's call your customer a %*&#!

Try this idea. Call the first group a customer and the other group a consumer. I used a simple organizational chart to give you another view. I’ll call this chart #1.  In this chart, I defined our customer and proposed customers into 4 groups – Customer, Consumer, Prospect/Past Customer, and Someday/Maybe. For this example, I used 1000 contacts and placed each contact into their appropriate group.

 

For this particular company, I selected male and female as another sub-segment within this chart. Finally, I selecteda dollar figure from each group and the sub-group based on the sex of the customer and other sub-groups.

 

Look into each contact in each group and try to determine how did you connect? What channel did you or they use to connect? By channel, I mean was it email, social media, direct mail, web site or face-to-face?

 

Quick point #5. I'm starting to feel that connection.

Look at chart #2. Communication Channels. There are five channels in my sample that the contacts preferred to use. Email was the consensus number one channel but radio brought in the most sales dollars from the male category. Was the radio station a sports channel supporting the local area teams?

 

Hopefully by now you have thought of a few segments for your database to start connecting with your contacts, even using the customer and consumer definition. It’s better to start simple and add to your segments as you move forward. Remember, this is a long term project, so remain patience.

 

Quick point #6: A typical company.

According to the latest data collected from 2010, it takes 2.7 channels (email, radio, social media,etc) to connect with a contact. If you’ve only been using one channel to connect, you need to consider using a few other channels your contacts prefer. It may be similar to chart number 2. There is an old saying we had in direct mail: test, test, and test again. It’s also helpful when you start channel selection.

 

If you’d like a copy of testing parameters please visit MCG for a free copy. It pertains more to direct mail, but it’s great food for thought.   

 

I look forward to your comments and questions. If you would like to read a few more articles on the importance of data and customer knowledge please call me at 800-251-3608 or go to the MarketingDoc site and do a search.

Thanks for reading.

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Constant Contact Solution Provider
Marketing Communications Specialist
www.marketingcommunicationsgroup.net
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