Unlocking the Value of Your Customers
Posted on September 15, 2000
by Kevin Sinclair
One of the greatest thrills in business is acquiring a new
customer. Many businesses are too caught up in the excitement of
acquiring new customers that they do not spend enough time or
money on unlocking the value of their existing customer base. It
surprises me how often business fail to regard their existing
customers as one of their most valued assets.
There may not be the same excitement in getting orders from
existing customers, BUT this is where the real profits are made.
It is generally accepted amongst most marketing experts that it
costs at least five times more to acquire a new customer than it
does to get an order from an existing customer. There are many
ways that you can unlock the value of your existing customer base
and in this article, I will explore some of those ways with you.
The first thing a business needs to do is develop the mindset
that their customer base is their most valuable asset. Customers
need to be treated like gold because that is what they are to
your business. Responding to the needs of your existing customers
must take priority over prospecting for new customers.
To unlock the value of your customers requires that you have a
range of products that will fulfil their needs. Products should
be carefully chosen to ensure they are of the right quality and
will meet customer needs. Your customers will often tell you what
they need if you listen to them carefully and with respect. This
can save you a lot of time and cost in market testing of new
Stay in contact with your customers. There are a variety of ways
to do this and the Internet provides a cost effective means to do
so. A regular newsletter for customers providing them with useful
information is the most common way. However, you need to know
what your customers want to make this truly effective.
Gather the preferences of your customers and monitor their buying
habits. This can provide you with very valuable information. To
get valuable ideas, look at some of the things Amazon does. For
example, Amazon allows people to subscribe to updates on various
different types of books. That way, they are able to provide
information on a regular basis that the customer is interested
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Amazon also has an author update service. You tell them who your
favourite authors are and, whenever there is anything new by that
author, you receive an email notification. They also have a
facility, where for the book you are considering purchasing, that
lists suggested other titles based on what other people bought.
Do these features generate more sales from their existing
customers? You bet they do! How can you use these concepts to
unlock the value of your customers?
Consider ways that you can make it easy for your customers to
re-order. Simple things such as not having to fill in all their
details again on the order form help. That way, customers only
need to advise you of changes to their details and the order
process is a lot quicker.
Regularly review your customers' buying habits. This can reveal
information on offers that you can make that meet their needs.
Providing them with a solution to their problem will lead not
only to further sales but also strong goodwill.
Customer service can be one of your strongest weapons in the
battle to retain your customers. Make every effort to personalise
responses to customer enquiries. Do not send standard form emails
if you can avoid it. While this will take more time, the rewards
will be far greater.
Be quick to honour guarantees. This will show that you mean what
you say and will build strong credibility. Too often, tardiness
and slow responses lead to lost credibility and lost future value
of a customer. When you are treating your customers as the most
important people to your business, they will find the experience
rewarding and will return often.
Each business is different and has its own specific ways that can
generate greater value from their existing customer base. Through
this article, I hope I have helped you to start thinking more
about how you can unlock the value of your customers.
Remember, the more you put into looking after your businessEs
major asset, the more profit you will make. A side benefit is
that your customers may even refer their friends and associates
to your business resulting in a steady flow of new customers with
a very small customer acquisition cost.
Article by Kevin Sinclair, CPA, of Be Successful! Business &
Personal Success Resources (http://www.ksinclair.com/). He
is the author of 2 free ebooks: "Success Secrets" & "How To
Choose A Home Based Business". Kevin is also the publisher
of "Be Successful News" - a free ezine dedicated to your
online business success - to subscribe, send a blank email