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You see, for those few minutes while she's a customer in his check-out line Marshall makes my wife feel genuinely valued and appreciated. And week after week she buys our groceries at "Marshall's" Safeway.
As marketers and salespeople and very few of us will have the same weekly, face-to-face opportunity as Marshall to make our customers feel valued and appreciated. And yet if we're smart we'll make sure we have our very own "Marshall" Plan in effect. We'll make sure -- once we've "rescued" our customer from the grips of our competitor -- that we have a customer aftercare program in place to maintain the health and increase the profitability of that relationship.
This makes perfect marketing sense. And, with studies showing that the total cost of getting a new customer to be 10 times that of simply holding onto an existing one it can also make you plenty of dollars and cents. Particularly when you consider that a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to an 85-percent increase in profits. You don't have to be King Solomon to see the wisdom in those numbers.
For example, imagine for a moment that you work in the real estate industry as either a real estate agent or loan officer. John and Judy First-Time Homebuyer purchase their first home or close on their first loan through your company. Assuming that John and Judy are upwardly-mobile professionals they'll probably purchase a minimum of another 4 - 5 homes during their lifetimes.
If you're in the lending business, that's another 4 - 5 loans, at a minimum. If you're an agent or a broker there exists the potential for another 8 - 10 transactions. (Counting the sells as well as the buys.) John and Judy alone -- even if they never send you a single referral -- are conceivably worth many thousands of dollars to you during their lifetimes. But if you're actively working on this relationship...if you're putting forth a consistent and concentrated effort to make John and Judy feel valued and appreciated...then they'll send you lots of referrals. I GUARANTEE IT.
Now stop a moment and multiply the above example by 40, 50, 500 or 100 and you'll understand why today's savviest marketers are placing greater emphasis on "Share of Customer" and "Lifetime Value" than they do "Share of Market."
But without proper planning and execution you won't come close to realizing John and Judy's full "lifetime value." The same thing holds true for any other industry as well.
Good Communication Is The Key
The key to increasing your "Share of Customer" and maximizing "Lifetime Value" lies in continually strengthening the bond between you and your customer. It should come as no surprise to anyone that good communication plays a major role in this bonding process.
An organized and consistent communications program will keep you in touch with your customers on a regular basis -- and increase your Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) with them. Plus, by welcoming and encouraging their feedback you'll be reminding them how very important and very special they are to you. And, we all like to feel special, valued and appreciated. We all like to feel "loved."
In a recent magazine article nationally known marketing consultant and Direct Marketing columnist James Rosenfield writes: "Every customer relationship begins with something that looks like love." Your objective as a business owner or sales executive is to move your new customer beyond "something that looks like love" to the real deal.
Ideally, you want to turn each new
customer into a walking, talking, word-of-mouth advertisement for you, your
products and (or) services. And a proactive, "Customer
Aftercare" letter program can go a long way toward achieving
this ideal. But most of us in the sales profession, unlike Marshall, don't usually
have the opportunity for weekly personal contact. In that case direct
mail is an efficient and effective customer retention tool. And here are a few
examples of the type of communications that should be in any good Customer
Aftercare Letter Program:
In addition to the above communications you'll also be sending out your normal promotional mailings and regular reminders of the benefits of doing business with you and your company. Plus, you'll also want to send a quarterly newsletter.
With the inexpensive database marketing technology available today there's little reason for any company not to have a well-thought-out, consistent and clearly defined "Customer Aftercare" program. There's only one drawback -- it's not a "quick fix" for low sales. But the benefits are many, including: maximized customer retention and loyalty, reduced marketing costs and higher profits.
Most important, your very own
"Marshall Plan" for customer aftercare will set you apart from the
vast majority of your competition. And give you the competitive edge that
leads to higher sales and profits.
Ernest Nicastro, a direct marketing consultant, copywriter and lead-generation specialist, heads up Positive Response, an award-winning marketing firm specializing in B-to-B marketing and lead-generation. For your FREE copy of the Positive Response Special Report, 77 Sure-Fire Marketing Tips Guaranteed To Boost Results, email Ernest (subject line Tips) at firstname.lastname@example.org or, contact him by phone at 614.747.2256. For more information visit www.positiveresponse.com
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