Companies must continue communicating with their customers through a consistent strategy that is driven by customer insight. Rating current customers is not solely based on how much they spend but has as its basis the classic RFM (or RFV in the UK) model that creates a score based on recency, frequency and monetary value. My recommenation is not to stop there but to add more elements such as Returns, Complaints, number of enquiries, length of time they have been a customer and create a contact plan that reacts to the dynamics of these scores.
Often we will identify cohorts of customers that represent bad business. The solution can either be to review the business process for how you do business with them, e.g. relegating them to an ‘exclusive’ on-line relationship where the cost of managing them is reduced rather than taking up the time of a salesman or telephone agent; alternatively the bullet might have to be bitten and you resign the account.
However, building segmentations or communities of valuable, profitable customers by profile and comparing their behaviour will also drive the communication; but don’t just use it to determine when to make contact. Customer insight should also drive the ‘next best proposition’ for each customer so that the sales person can be proactive in establishing opportunity. What you know about your customers can also be used to drive new customer acquisition by comparing prospects’ profiles with your customers and determining the best proposition.
Customers rate companies with whom they deal by the quality of the communications and this means relevance, personalisation and timeliness.
I am finding more and more that companies go ahead with the introduction of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology without considering all aspects of the training requirement. As part of the universal application of CRM across an organisation, it is important to understand where there is a need for new skills and perspective. Sure, the software provider will provide training on what buttons to press to access a customer or to send an email but consideration is rarely given to the use of the data now at the salesman’s or marketer’s fingertips. When introducing CRM to an organisation it is essential that effort and budget is put into bespoke training in the use of data so that the greatest benefit is realised out of the investment. Usually skills transfer for users will cover:
– An understanding of the CRM culture and the company data strategy
– Understanding data (data quality, the need for accuracy, etc)
– Skills in data usage
– Skills in direct marketing and relationship management
– Reporting concepts
Without this the users will become frustrated because they will not achieve the expectations of the management and will either leave (often taking a valuable resource with them) or just not use the technology which means a wasted investment.
Unlike traditional marketing where specific, targeted campaigns generate a qualified response, today a company’s broad presence on the web can mean that response is uncontrolled and is not necessarily representative of a valid lead for your sales operation. Potential customers today go online to research products and services, review recommendations and compare prices. This means an initial enquiry may not generate a sale for a considerable time and the enquirer can only be viewed as a ‘suspect’ – not even a prospect.
So, once a ‘suspect’ is acquired, a relationship must be created to establish qualification and evaluate and build on the potential until such time as the lead is ready to be passed to sales. But what constitutes a ‘sales-ready’ lead? This is a strategic decision to be agreed upon between sales and marketing. Remember, it may vary by type of prospect, by product or market.
This ‘pre-sales’ process is known as Lead Nurturing and involves scheduled time or event driven communications aimed at establishing the prospect’s needs and delivering soft sell support, with appropriate messaging, landing pages, tracking and measurement.
These communications can take the form of blogs, newsletters, thought-leading statements and tailored, personalised messages, normally delivered via e-mail marketing techniques or social media.
Insight into the behaviour demonstrated by different profiles of suspects, prospects and customers will enable a company to build a lead nurturing strategy that ensures as many as enquire turn into customers or repeat purchasers as possible. The strategy also controls the level of resource used to convert the sale, meaning improved ROI.