There is no doubt that in these tough economic times cash is crucial, and that it is imperative to ensure you are tough with peripheral expenses to ensure the viability of your business. But managers who are worried over the stability of their business should remember this one vital truth: The source of your business’ cash flow is your customer base.
While managers may be tempted to slash marketing budgets and cut back on the customer perks, it is important to remember that without those customers there is no cash flow. Now is therefore the time to undertake a thorough review of your customer base. This process involves revisiting who your customers are, what makes them happy and ultimately, how you can get more out of them.
Three simple steps to getting the most out of your current customers are:
Analyse your current customers:
Take a good hard look at who your customers are and which ones you want to keep. Not all customers are as profitable as each other. Examine your customer segments and focus most of your attention on the ones that are going to truly drive your cash flow and which ones are critical to retain. Once you have determined who your critical customers are, take the time to understand what their goals are. Be relevant to what they are trying to achieve because if you aren’t relevant to their business, they won’t be your customer for long.
Invest in retaining your clients:
Now is not the time to stop investing in retaining your customers. While investing heavily to acquire new customers may not make sense in this economic environment, investing to retain your customers makes absolute sense.
Now is the time to undertake a strong direct marketing plan including simple actions such as:
Improve customer service:
Now is definitely not the time to under-deliver on your customers’ expectations. As aforementioned, you might be able to save some dollars cutting a few customer perks but all it takes is one poor customer service experience to lose a customer to a competitor.
You certainly don’t have to make a significant investment in radical customer service changes, however a business can take various actions to improve the level of service delivered. Examples of this may include developing communications tools to foster improved customer service (such as e-newsletters, customer blogs) or simply rewarding staff for outstanding customer service achievements.
Those businesses that retain their customers in the current economic environment will not only be more resilient in the short term, but also best positioned to prosper in the long term, when the economy begins to rebound.
Sarah Hillier is the managing director of marketing and consulting organisation, RAW Consulting. email@example.com