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This is how I look after previous customers
They're gone, let's look for a new one
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
I have records, but don't really use them much
15%
 15%  [ 3 ]
I contact them all with the same information and offers
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
I have plenty of information and use it cunningly, tailoring offers to select groups or individuals
47%
 47%  [ 9 ]
I hadn't thought about this. Wonder if I should?
10%
 10%  [ 2 ]
Oh, shut up. Have a weasel.
21%
 21%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 19

Author 
 Message
Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 33935
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 10:51 am    Post subject: Managing customers  Reply with quote    

How do you manage your relationship with your customers?

Making stuff is relatively easy. Materials, skill, time, and, for many here, a love of doing so. It doesn't matter if it is jewellery, or beef, software or singing lessons, the tough bit is selling it.

Your past customers are your greatest asset. They score highly on several fronts. Firstly, they clearly wanted your stuff enough to buy it, they thought your price, approach and stall or website were good enough, and they helped you pay the bills. Assuming they're happy, they're also an independent voice who might well do some of your advertising for you, especially if they wear your t shirt, hang your print in their cafe or yell about your sausages on Facebook.

I spent a large amount of time shoving information into a database, about every contact, every sale, every customer I deal with, so it's all there for later. I have to, I'm part of a team, and when marketing want to email all users of a certain technique about a shiny new product, they need my information. When we need to do a recall, or service, or upgrade, it's there. Got a great offer for people who always spend money at the end of March? The CRM knows when my customers' financial year ends. When someone needs a phone number or email, it's there. If I get hit by a bus, or go on holiday, the customers don't suffer. And the more that is in there, and not in my head, my notebooks and my email inbox, the more time I save, the less stressed I am, and the better served my customers are.

You all have customers, people who've trusted you with their hard earned cash before. Do you keep records of them, organised, and go back and harvest them sensibly? How many are repeat customers? I know this will vary from business to business. I guess people are unlikely to buy a new Lino cut from the same artist every month, but certainly they need firewood, or bacon routinely.

Do you contact them afterwards, with offers, premium lines, discounts, suggest a friend rewards, or news they might pass on?

Everyone may already be doing this, but it might be food for thought. I thought about this, reading an article today, and exploring some free CRM packages, and thought I'd share.

Bodrighy



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 2157
Location: Near Devizes
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Nick, please shut up. My conscience is bad enough as it is without you throwing truth at me. Yes I ought to spend more time being proactive, reaching out etc but as you say it is much easier to disappear (in my case) into the workshop and make things. I have a record of each customer and could contact with new things I have made but feel pushy doing so, am never fully confident that my work is good enough etc etc etc.

Pete

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

what he said! Seriously though, I did try sending out a newsletter a year or so back, but some people got it three times and some not at all, and I was so embarrassed I haven't had another go

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 33935
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bodrighy wrote:
Nick, please shut up. My conscience is bad enough as it is without you throwing truth at me. Yes I ought to spend more time being proactive, reaching out etc but as you say it is much easier to disappear (in my case) into the workshop and make things. I have a record of each customer and could contact with new things I have made but feel pushy doing so, am never fully confident that my work is good enough etc etc etc.

Pete


But, aren't some of your things, the buttons, the craft supplies, the blanks consumable items? Or at least the kind of thing people will want to buy again?

If you get complaints, or stuff returned, it might not be good enough. Are you getting lots of complaints? Thought not.

Chase up button buyers with a mail with photos of some different ones. Maybe they've finished knitting the next cardigan. Maybe they forgot where they bought the last ones from.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Well, I've been in touch with you many times over the years, but you still haven't bought any sheep

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 33935
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Rob R wrote:
Well, I've been in touch with you many times over the years, but you still haven't bought any sheep


I've delivered a few for you, I've bought cows and pigs from you, and dead sheeps. I've helped crowd fund and I even gave you nine pigs once. I'm pretty much the perfect customer!

Haven't had a newsletter recently, tho. Wonder if my email address is current...

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

sally_in_wales wrote:
what he said! Seriously though, I did try sending out a newsletter a year or so back, but some people got it three times and some not at all, and I was so embarrassed I haven't had another go


I get a few newsletters and some very large companies send the same thing twice, and I get them daily!

These days many people will be used to getting daily, weekly and monthly updates so, provided you give people the option to opt-out of them, I wouldn't worry.

What annoys me in dealing with small scale/family run businesses is the people who don't bother reply to emails and the chases when I'm trying to order stuff. Mutter, grumble...

JB



Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 7748
Location: 91 N
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Companies contacting me with offers is something that is guaranteed to annoy me even if they are companies I have used before. Just because I bought a reciprocating widget mangler from you last year does not mean I am desperate to know about your new line of hydraulic wurzel manglers and you will just annoy me by sending me that information so I am more likely to go somewhere else.

There are of course exceptions to this. The garage that contacts me once a year to remind me about the MOT is OK, the optician contacting my wife every other year to remind her that it's been two years since an eye test is OK. Those are items that I should do not things that they would like me to do and they are also so rarely contacting me that I pay more attention. Other exceptions are where I actively choose to subscribe to newsletters, so if I get a monthly newsletter from someone selling telescopes that's OK because I asked to receive that. But unsolicited contact from companies even if I have used them before is generally annoying.

NorthernMonkeyGirl



Joined: 10 Apr 2011
Posts: 4354
Location: Peeping over your shoulder
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

As a customer, I would much prefer an "opt in" system. I enjoy seeing facebook updates, for example, because I have actively chosen to follow that person/business. They also tend to be short and sweet.

Any generic email newsletter will probably drown in my epic inbox, and if it comes too often or I'm just swamped that particular day then it does leave a bad mark I'm afraid.

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 33935
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a generic, constant barrage of mailing, but the more information you have, and the more you organise, the more tailored and specific and useful your follow up stuff can be.

And, there isn't a legal newsletter that doesn't have an opt out option on it. If you're getting too many, opt out. Takes seconds.

Cathryn



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 19830
Location: Ceredigion
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You beat me to it! I was wondering about a step back from this, how do you want to relate to customers and whether because of the sort of person you are, you should look at adapting to reflect that.

Have to go and sell things to people now. I like people and even when I am feeling grumpy about having to go into work, I nearly always come back having enjoyed seeing everyone. I think that its key to selling face to face as well.

Only marginally off topic....

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:

What annoys me in dealing with small scale/family run businesses is the people who don't bother reply to emails and the chases when I'm trying to order stuff. Mutter, grumble...


I'm guilty of that - not because I ignore people but because my e-mail was bouncing back some messages at least a week after failing to send it. I've sorted it now but it took too long because I don't really fully understand email and I kept putting off sorting it out.

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Anybody use twitter? I can't stand it but for those who do it's a very quick and easy way to let people know that you have, meat or buttons available or a new exhbition/fair this weekend etc. Users opt in.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Behemoth wrote:
Anybody use twitter? I can't stand it but for those who do it's a very quick and easy way to let people know that you have, meat or buttons available or a new exhbition/fair this weekend etc. Users opt in.


Yep, and that's why Nick hasn't received a newsletter recently - newsletters are time consuming to put together and initially resulted in a handful of sales from the small number of people who opened them, but then this ebbed away to nothing.

We now encourage customers to use facebook and/or twitter to stay up to date with our latest news and offers. We also use the hashtag #FreeMeatMonday to promote our regular weekly offer, and that works, sometimes.

The biggest problem with small businesses is that people easily forget that you're there, so they need reminding, and that's why Tesco, McDonalds, etc. spend a lot of money getting their logos in people's faces.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 14 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Nick wrote:
Rob R wrote:
Well, I've been in touch with you many times over the years, but you still haven't bought any sheep


I've delivered a few for you, I've bought cows and pigs from you, and dead sheeps. I've helped crowd fund and I even gave you nine pigs once. I'm pretty much the perfect customer!


OK, I'll let you off the sheep.

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