A funny thing happens when you solicit feedback. You often find out you don’t know squat about your clients’ priorities.
Every Tuesday, I meet with my writing staff to discuss what we think you, our subscribers, want help with. We have done a lot of “presuming” because we think we know what you need. We spend time in the field, we host three face-to-face events, and we talk to industry professionals daily by phone and/or email. Martin, our editor, was the first to speak up about how he was getting a few irritated emails and seeing comments from readers complaining they are suffering “Uber fatigue.” Since disruptive technology seems to be a primary focus for most, and the topic gets the most page views on our website, we were thrown off by this. We decided to conduct our first readership study in several years.
Our results told us that the number one area our subscribers wanted more information on was sales, then marketing/branding best practices, followed by customer service training tips. Armed with this information, we held yet another editorial meeting and planned out an entire issue together. I asked my team to confirm that we would include a feature on sales, marketing and service. The answer was no.
Although we caught ourselves and adjusted our magazine content, the meeting proved while it is vital to your business success to pinpoint what your clients truly value in a chauffeured service experience, it is even more important to act on it! You must be willing to change to the tastes, trends and desires of your clients.
I was recently at an industry board meeting where I shared an astounding statistic with a group of operators. About 90% of our industry reservations are handled by phone. The consensus was “that’s the way our clients like it.” When I asked, how they knew that, no one had an answer. The point of the story is to never presume you always have a full read on your clients.
Alas, if you have not taken an inventory on your clients lately, it’s worth adding to your to-do list. Below are some basic tips to help you move in the right direction to build stronger, longer-lasting customer relationships:
1. Maintain the customer lifecycle. A customer lifecycle is the length and nature of a customer’s relationship with your brand or company. The goal should be to make the customer’s lifecycle as long as possible. Maintaining the cycle involves asking them what they want by way of surveys and structured focus groups.
2. Use all available data to know client personalities. With the rapid growth in digital channels, the best way for you to remain competitive is to use all of the information about your customers at your disposal. You should know what they want from your business, but personal preferences are key for setting your service apart.
3. See what’s right in front of you. While it’s essential to get complete customer profiles, don’t ignore obvious information. Seven out of 10 marketers ignore social data. With Facebook analytics and other free tools available, you can gain insights into how consumers interact with your brand.
4. Identify and act on customer triggers. Go to your customers. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Most of us ignore life events and threshold triggers (such as spending up to a certain amount). These are the customers most likely to spend or keep spending. Identify your most important customers, but don’t forget to determine the most valuable time to reach them within their lives and purchase cycles.
5. Challenge assumptions. This is as much a business philosophy as a client relationship building tactic. Don’t assume methods and practices that have worked well for you in the past year will work in the future.