The most powerful argument for investing in customer relationships is the profitability of lifetime customers. It costs much less to sell additional products or services to your existing customers than to attract and close a new prospect. If you have treated a customer right, you’ve earned trust and that puts you a step ahead of your competitors. Satisfied customers also drive new business through word-of-mouth referrals to colleagues.
You should already know who your most profitable customers are, how to best contact them, and their purchasing preferences. If you don’t have a way to collect and manage this information (and more) about your customers, your company needs a customer relationship management strategy – and fast! In a perfect world, marketing and sales professionals would have time and resources to communicate in a highly personal way with each individual customer, creating nearly perfect relationships by offering a customer the right products or services, and making contact at the precise moment the customer realizes a need. In marketing, the term ‘one-to-one’ describes this ideal relationship – an exclusive loyalty between your company and the customer, focused on meeting each customer’s needs in the way that best matches his preferences and expectations.
“Knowing your customers is a fundamental rule for successful business,” says Nina Smith, Chief Market ing Officer for Sage Software. “There are myriad ways to know your customers – we take some 30,000 support calls daily, and each one of those helps to inform us of what’s important to our customers. The key is to listen, to gather information, and to use that information to make the customer experience better.”
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, the pioneers of ‘one-to-one’ customer relationship theory, have created a set of best practices to help businesses focus in on what matters most to customers – creating ideal conditions for business growth and competitive advantage. Traditionally, companies could not find cost effective ways to create personalized, relationship-strengthening communications with customers. But today, Peppers and Rogers argue, automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and fast, flexible marketing channels (such as e-mail and the internet) enable companies to create sustainable, interactive relationships with customers.