Connecting With Your Best Customers: Past Practices are Present Perfect
Once upon a time, making the sale was an art—one that counted house calls, chummy inquiries about the wife and kids and a hearty handshake as the stuff deals were made of. While the product and offer were (and still are) the driving melodies behind the ol’ salesmanship rag, it was a decidedly different tune that struck a chord with prospects: the honest-to-goodness investment in satisfaction.
The relationship-builders of yore, so integral in making customers for life, might be borderline hackneyed by today’s click-’em-and-leave-’em business environment. The nurtured segment that once was born out of such tactics, however, still is thriving. Who, now, is making your best customers feel special? If it’s not on the top of your priority list, the market share and growth of your organization may suffer, says Bob Blinick, principal and direct marketing strategist for PowerPact, an integrated marketing agency based in Richmond, Va.
Direct mailers strive to maintain relevancy with a broad audience, so it’s all the more important to achieve this with their best customers, emphasizes Jeanne Bliss, president of CustomerBLISS, a customer profitability and loyalty consultancy. And it’s not just about creating loyalty programs, either. Revisiting the golden age of customer service—specialized strategies and person-to-person contact—is the current trend in reaching this all-important group and keeping them coming back for more. Make it be about knowing that customer and customizing that response—a personal phone call or handwritten card. What’s old is new again, Bliss says. The first step to making the connection? Before a mailer even can begin to think about strategies for cultivating its best customer relationships, it first has to define exactly who those people are; if the list can’t be produced at a moment’s notice, it’s a clear sign the loyal legions have languished in anonymity for far too long.