Regardless of the industry you’re in, it is critical to know which of your customers are profitable and which ones strain your resources. If the most extreme cases, it could even make sense to fire particularly troublesome customers.
However, it is just as important to go the extra mile for your most valuable customers and reward them for their loyalty and continued business. Don’t just throw gifts at them, though. Not only does a haphazard, untargeted approach decrease the likelihood that your customers will remember or care about your efforts, but you will waste time and money, as well.
In order to take a smart approach to customer appreciation, you first need to measure the profitability of each customer. To get a complete view into the total costs for each customer, all employees should track the time spent on any and all customer activities.
An automated time-tracking system will make it much easier to determine these costs and will give you a vantage viewpoint into your company’s activities. Also consider any value that your customers offer you aside from direct sales. Customers who are willing to go the extra mile by referring new customers, participating in case studies, or otherwise improving your brand can offer a great ROI for you, and that needs to be considered.
Great customer service is always important, but aside from that, the best way to endear your company to a customer is to deeply understand their needs. This may require a time investment, but if you can understand what your customer wants, you can focus your efforts to help them achieve it.
Position your company as an important part of your customers’ future strategies and they will likely pay you back many times over. And you’ll be able to intelligently plot out the appropriate amount of time for each customer since you already determined their overall profitability.
Of course, not every customer will be responsive to your outreach efforts. Even if you have determined that you can devote time to developing a relationship, some customers just aren’t interested in anything beyond your core product. That is fine. Scale back your efforts, but don’t completely cease them. Sometimes, persistence pays off.
Similarly, keep an eye to the future. Companies often change strategy and focus which could present a future opportunity to reengage. Be ready to step up your activities when it’s the right time for them.
The most successful targeted customer outreach programs are mutually beneficial.
We have implemented a deep integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting systems for some of our customers because our software is a flexible add-on to Dynamics. Although we originally implemented this for just one customer, we have been able to capitalize and expand on the success of the original offering.
If it weren’t for a specific instance of customer outreach, we wouldn’t have discovered a profitable market for this business.
Take customer outreach seriously and treat it with as much respect as any other business project. The results can be measured in your bottom line, and you may uncover unexpected benefits that you might have otherwise missed.
Move forward intelligently, with an eye to your costs and capabilities, and the rewards will be substantial.
Customer Outreach Photo via Shutterstock
I have never taken the time to analyze profitability by customer. I think it’s a good exercise, though. And you’re right: it’s not just revenue that makes for a profitable customer. For me, that would be one who continually give me new projects or refers me.
I like this line from the movie Finding Forrester – “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time. “
Couldn’t agree with you more, Robert. Unexpected gifts are fantastic for building customer loyalty. It’s also a great way to mobilize your customers and turn them into raving fans. Raving fans sends more business your way.
Post purchasing marketing strategies are very hard to execute. As was mentioned in the article, customers rarely care beyond the point of their own satisfaction. Once you’re product has satisfied their need, your business become less relevant.
One of the best ways to keep customers engaged is to build a brand that stands for something beyond the business transaction. Patagonia is a good example. If your business can connect with customers beyond commerce, it’s easier to build a relationship.
When there’s a strong relationship between the company and the customer, it’s much easier to pamper them with gifts and amenities.