It is fascinating to work with different businesses and to see how they approach their customers. There are those who are on the treadmill, working harder and faster taking in anything they can lay their hands on just to get turnover (the die hards). Then there are those who sit and focus on who makes a good customer and then commit unstintingly to seeking, attracting and converting those that they know are going to take them where they want to go – from financial, production capacity and market share perspectives (the seekers).
What are you? Of course it’s open to debate where the focus should be; externally or internally? I believe it is a balance between the two (and no I’m not sitting on the fence!). Having seen both sides of the coin many times, too much focus in one area leaves your business weak and susceptible in the other and, quite honesty, a ladder with one weak leg is still dangerous – it doesn’t really matter which leg it is!
However, everything in business starts with who is going to buy your product or service. What do they want, what are their expectations, what is their level of understanding of what you have to offer and are you able (or willing) to satisfy – and exceed – their needs in order to build sustainability in the market place?
When last did you take a look at your customer base and determine how many good customers you have? A good exercise is to do is a quick Customer Grading Matrix. Here are two ways of doing this:
1. This first method is good if you have an established client base with regular repeat purchases and want to assess their worth to you as a company. Take a piece of paper and divide it into 4 quadrants making a square. Determine what the X and Y axis are going to be (turnover monthly/annually, payment method, level of useage (units/time/range), loyalty level, location etc. The selected X/Y axis definitions should be the two most critical characteristics you require in your clients. Then, plot your clients accordingly to see which quadrant each one of them sits. Analyse the picture created and then plan your course of action going forward.
2. This second option is good if you need to increase your customer base and need to ensure you pull on-board more good customers. First, determine the characteristics that you believe make a good client. The same criteria as mentioned above can be used, however, this time create a quick bar chart eg one characteristic per bar (you can have as many as you need). Allocate a set number of “points” per category eg 10, and then rate each client, out of 10, for each of the characteristics you have settled on. When you start making contact with a potential client, quickly run them through your characteristic scoring mechanism (the bar chart) and see how they rate. If they score 80% or above you know they’re good for you, 60-80% look at what characteristics are pulling them down and determine whether or not these are critical, 50% or less you really need to take a close look to ensure you are not going to be running hard but getting nowhere!
How often do we find we are putting a lot of time, effort and resources into pulling on board customers who are not good for us in the long term? Our short-term turnover focus blinds us to the long-term value and ROI (or ROE -Return on Effort).
There is nothing more rewarding than having a sustainable business built on a win/win of you taking your clients where they want to go while they are taking you where you want to go. After all isn’t that what we are really all striving for?
Yours in marketing