Four takeaways to improve your customer relationships

2016

Are you maximising your marketing efforts and your customer relationships? Do you find, attract and keep the customers that you want, and do you maximise the opportunities and the profits that they can deliver?

My last couple of articles for Management Issues have focused on how to do this, asking you to Forget CRM, Think MCR - that means Maximising your Customer Relationships.

This article highlights a real example of how to make this message work. Too many businesses simply don’t really understand their different customers’ needs, or even worse, treat them all the same. This results in missed opportunities and ultimately, the loss of those customers.

Here’s a great example of an organisation that took some time out to really investigate what a particular group of their customers thought and wanted and tailored their offer accordingly.

Almost 90,000 students from China are studying at UK universities, with some paying up to £30,000 for a course every year. These students make up 20% of all overseas students in the UK and generate almost £4 billion annually. So this is a group of customers who are clearly valuable to universities, and it ought to make sense to ensure that they get what they want.

But that’s not what The University Catering Organisation (TUCO) found after a fact-finding mission to China. TUCO provides food for 340 universities and colleges across the UK, but the message they got was that Chinese students are potentially being put off studying in Britain because of the food served in universities. They identified that for many Chinese students, what they eat is a central cultural issue and sandwiches just don’t cut it

“Eating and drinking is a huge aspect of their life,” explained Matt White, Director of TUCO, “By talking to their peers that are here in the UK, prospective Chinese students will understand life isn’t so scary here, there is some comfort in food… and that’s a really important aspect to a prospective student.”

TUCO have therefore responded to their Chinese customers’ view of British cuisine, and are changing their menus and adding more authentic foods that will appeal to their Chinese customers.

To repeat a favourite mantra of mine, the key to meeting customer expectations is to think in 3D. 3D Businesses take a ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’ approach when it comes to customer focus to ensure that that focus is on the right customers. We call it ‘choose ‘em or lose ‘em’. They also ensure that they tailor their offer to those different customers to ensure that they give them what they want.

So how do you measure up when it comes to customer focus? Here are some takeaways for you to make it work in your business.

Takeaway 1: Some questions for you:

  • How well do you ‘segment’ your customers?
  • How good an understanding do you have of their different likes, dislikes and needs?
  • Where are the ‘blockages’ and ‘barriers’ that prevent some of your customers spending (more) with you?
  • Are there opportunities that you are missing out on?
  • How can you find out?

Takeaway 2: Take some time out to analyse your customers. Ask yourself:

  • Are we focusing our efforts and resources on the right sort of customers?
  • Who are those customers?
  • Do we know what they want and think?
  • What do we need to do to maximise opportunities with those customers?

Takeaway 3: Focus your efforts on the people that count - your customers. Ask them some vital questions:

  • Why do you buy for us?
  • When do you buy from us?
  • What do we do that irritates or annoys you?
  • What should we never stop doing?
  • What don’t we do that we should?
  • Are there any other products and services that we should be offering?
  • How could we do more business?

Takeaway 4: Read This!
This article on Management Issues, The 10 D’s Of Customer Differentiation, will help you evaluate your approach to your customers by illustrating 10 different customer types and how to deal with each of them.

You can also download this free E-Book on the topic that provides you with some simple templates to help you ’segment’ and target your customers and crucially, focus your efforts and resources on the right ones accordingly.

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About The Author

Andy Hanselman
Andy Hanselman

Andy Hanselman helps businesses and their people think in 3D. That means being Dramatically and Demonstrably Different. An expert on business competitiveness, he has spent well over 20 years researching, working with, and learning from, successful fast growth businesses. His latest book, The 7 Characteristics of 3D Businesses, reveals how businesses can get ahead, and stay ahead of their competitors.