Clients are the life source of a business. They are also a source of future business, provided we build a relationship with them and a positive association with our business. This requires a certain client centredness, administrative discipline and process capabilities from us.
The approach to new clients:
New clients bring a positive energy to the business. They have just purchased a product/service from your business. Hopefully their service experience and the quality of the product/service they purchased are of such nature that a positive association with your business has been established.
Now is the time to:
- Place their information on a central data base (even a spread sheet to start with). Make sure that you have the clients’ permission to direct further correspondence to them.
- Make sure you have complete information (name, surname, landline, cellphone number, e-mail address, postal address, physical address, the nature of the purchase, the amount of the purchase and the date of purchase).
- It is difficult to obtain such information in a retail environment. Let the client fill in his/her basic information (name, surname, e-mail, cellphone) on a card to be placed in a container at the point of sale counter. Hold a lucky draw to serve as incentive.
- Decide on which distribution lists the client should be placed; e.g. special offers, newsletters and helpful hints.
The approach to existing clients:
Existing clients are a treasure. A material part of future business could arise from an existing client base that is kept up to date and where good relationships are maintained.
Consider the following:
- Which process should be followed to keep client information up to date?
- Decide when follow-up visits should be paid to clients.
- Do your clients know what your after-sales service entails and how they may contact you?
- Are there clients who may possibly be notified to consider upgrading their current product/service?
- Do you know which of your clients would benefit from the purchase of other product/service offers by your business?
- Ensure that your existing clients are also on the relevant distribution lists of your business.
It is important to treat client information with care. “POPI” or the “Protection of Personal Information Bill” aims at protecting consumers against businesses that deal unlawfully with the personal information of individuals. Visit http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/bills/bills.htm for a copy of the legislation.
If you are going to take the trouble to build a client data base and to maintain such, also ensure that the information is backed up in case of a loss of data. Dealing with client information involves responsible actions right through from the sales and administrative staff to the management and the owners of the business. Up to date client information that is being managed optimally, is an asset to any business.
The content in this article was provided by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market. Sanlam is a diversified financial services group, headquartered in South Africa, operating across a number of selected global markets.
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