In our series exploring opportunities for wholesale business growth next year, we look at the vital role played by the way in which businesses manage their customer relationships. Cut throat competition means that customers will only stay where they feel truly valued. Which of your customers deserve your closest attention?
Know your key accounts
Differentiating against businesses offering similar products at similar prices will, in many cases, come down to customer service. Creating an outstanding customer experience first requires an analysis of the right accounts to invest in. Even though it’s not an easy idea to embrace, not all customers are good customers and not all revenue is good revenue. Careful review of each relationship will be required to dive into the profit reality.
Use the right metrics
Although broad measures like minimum order values seem to create a safe feeling around whether interactions deliver a margin, the reality can be otherwise. A whole host of factors including delivery size and frequency, order complexity and speed of payment affect where profit really kicks in.
Put simply, investing heavily in customers that barely break-even is not an effective use of stretched resources. Businesses able to embrace alternative accounting (like ABC) to get the route of these issues will benefit from spending their customer retention money more wisely. Having the insight to say ‘no’ is perhaps as important as having the opportunity to say ‘yes’.
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CRM to the rescue
CRM functionality will become a must have for businesses serious about delivering a great customer experience. Software that effectively manages the 360 degree customer view – all contact and relationship history, in addition to the sales and marketing process, task workflows and documentation – will allow the level of service customers will come to expect as standard. And if it’s fully integrated with the back office financial administration to minimize quote to cash information leakage, it will be of even more value.
Data is empowering
Running a tight relationship management ship will allow hard won customers to be retained – ensuring they feel well cared for while experiencing value in the products and services they receive. With the right software solution on board, customers can be targeted intelligently, probable requirements created based on the history of the relationship so far. What are their ordering habits? Do their volumes merit a loyalty discount? Could a new item or assortment be interesting for them? With the total customer picture in hand, businesses can exploit the full deep sell potential of their installed base. The personal touch goes a long way, and the right intelligence certainly makes it easier to make you customers feel considered and important.