This article will focus on the idea of knowing your customers and knowing what your ideal customer looks like so that you can aim your marketing efforts at attracting that very type of customer.
Every so often it is useful to evaluate your customer base versus your current business plan. It may be that one or more of your regular customers no longer fit the criteria you have established for your ideal customer.
In our business, software development and on line payroll, we look for people who:
• Need our products and services
• Understand the value of excellent customer service and are willing to pay for it
• Help us constructively improve our products and services
• Do what they say they’re going to do
• Pass the “Grief to Revenue” evaluation
Any marketing effort will attract a variety of prospective customers to your door. Some of those will not be qualified to be your customer. Think about that. Not everyone is qualified to be your customer. This is indeed an interesting concept, and one that bears a great deal of your attention.
Do you have customers that complain about every bill? Do those same people who complain about the bill also make unreasonable demands on your time? Do they then string you out to 120 days before paying you? I contend that there is no customer that is worth that sort of treatment. It is wise to try to determine in advance if any of these behaviors will show themselves before entering into a relationship with the prospective customer.
In addition to preventative customer evaluations, it is wise to review existing customer relationships from time to time in order to make sure that these relationships are still working for you.
There are times when long-term customer relationships can have an adverse effect on your business. For example, a customer may become increasingly demanding over time, citing the long term relationship as a rationale for the increased demands. Or a customer may resist your attempts to modify how you do business. Many people do not like change. And since the evolution of a business, especially a high-tech business like mine dictates frequent change, we find that periodically some customers will be resistant to that change. We have updated our accounting software frequently in the 26 years we have been in business. And at every major update, we have had people that insisted on staying with the older versions. Over 4 or 5 major rewrites of the software, it can become an expensive and time-consuming proposition to continue to support and modify the older versions.
As a business grows, often we hire people to do jobs that we have handled ourselves in the past. For example, I have always handled customer support, and customers like talking to the ‘guy who wrote the software’. Delegating customer support to a new employee will cause some resistance on the part of some customers.
You must be cautious here to pay attention to what customers are saying. It can be a big mistake to simply make a number of new rules and expect all customers to accept them without question. Separating reasonable objections from frivolous and self-serving ones can be a real challenge, but one we must all undertake if we wish to maintain a quality customer base.
So as always, the most important aspect of maintaining good customer relations is to PAY ATTENTION, PAY ATTENTION, and PAY ATTENTION SOME MORE!!