For the last 20 years, the Great British High Street, as it’s known, has been dying a slow, painful, protracted death.
At least, that’s what the press would have you believe…
And whilst it’s certainly true that many towns across the country are now filled with little more than bookies and B&Ms, there are success stories to be found, if you look in the right places.
The key ingredient to the successful survivors?
Customer Relationship Management.
OK, it isn’t the catchiest of phrases, but the value of CRM should never be underestimated, and it turns the whole idea of ‘use it or lose it’ on its head.
Traditionally, ‘use it or lose it’ puts the emphasis on the consumer, almost guilt tripping them to use their local businesses for fear that they might not be there tomorrow.
That’s all well and good if the businesses are worth saving.
But what about if they’re dealing with a coffee house with no Wi-fi and bad beans? Or a gastro pub that serves up little more than gastroenteritis.
We think that ‘use it or lose it’ works both ways, and for business owners, it is CRM, customer relationship management, that is the ‘thing’ they have to use.
There are 3 stages to CRM, which all exist within a larger chain of processes, so let’s look at the whole thing first.
The stages of making a sale, winning a customer and earning your money include marketing, enquiries, quotations & pricing, sales & invoicing, right the way through to accounts.
There are three of these areas that make up CRM. Can you tell which ones they are?
We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you pitched for enquiries, pricing and sales.
Well done you…
Anyway, it is these three areas which are crucial for business owners to use, if they don’t want to lose their existing customers and the repeated business they bring.
How you manage the enquiries stage is all to do with your personality, and how that is reflected in your business. Whether they’re looking for a cappuccino or a cockapoo, your customer will decide very early on as to whether or not they’ll be buying from you.
Welcome them in, be warm, be approachable. This doesn’t just apply to one industry or niche either. You don’t need a premises even, as this approach can be tailored for whatever avenue your enquiries arrive down, be that digitally, over the phone or in person.
If it’s a good experience, it’s a good start.
Next comes the pricing, or the quotation, and here’s another chance to mess the whole thing up, if you’re not properly prepared that is.
Understanding things like your customer avatar, your marketplace positioning and how you compare with your competitors are all vital components in getting your pricing right, so invest the time in purposeful research.
Finally, we’re through to the actual sale. And this is where one time customers are converted into returning customers. And yes, let’s think cynically here. Needs must, at times.
Are you offering them any kind of discount? Do you have a loyalty scheme? Free gift wrapping? 10% off the next order? Free Delivery? Any other nice ideas?
Customer Relationship Management is all about creating an unrivalled customer experience.
That’s what makes a loyal customer, and at 20:80e, we know that businesses are far more likely to sell to existing customers than they are to new customers. That’s just a fact.
One time customers will keep a business going, and maybe help it to cling on and survive, but loyal customers, who value their relationship with a business, a product or a service, are more likely to care about the survival of a business, especially in difficult times, and therefore make a concerted effort to use it so they don’t lose it.
Too many business owners and businesses find themselves caught up in the never ending cycle of chasing that next job, whilst invoicing for the last one, that they never get the time, or should we say, never make the time, to give proper consideration to their customer relationship management.
It’s easy to see why, as when the wolf is at the door, it can be all hands to the pump in an effort to bring in the sales, as quickly possible.
We know though, that investing time, research and TLC into your CRM, as soon as you possibly can, can and will make the difference between closure and survival, or surviving and thriving.
Think about your own favourite businesses, whether they’re multinationals or small independents.
Chances are, that if you are a frequent customer, it’s because they’ve nailed their customer relationship management to a tee.
Maybe it’s McDonalds, because you know that no matter which store you visit, you’re going to get the meal you love. Maybe it’s a Premier Inn, because you know you’ll get a good night’s sleep.
Maybe it’s an independent café on your High Street that knows exactly how you like your eggs (sunny side up), or it could be the barber shop that gave your impatient child a lollipop, and you an understanding expression.
Each of these examples have something in common, they show an acute awareness of CRM.
Can you say the same for your business?