Recent events have highlighted the need to address an issue I see as one of the most important administration tasks you must work on in your business today, which is being able to communicate and foster relationships with your customers.
Your customer list is one of the most important assets you possess today. Your customer list is not just a list of people who you have or conduct business with; it also represents a massive amount of future sales your business will conduct. Yet, so many business owners simply leave the collection of customer contact details to chance.
So many cleaners simply collect name and phone number, the bare minimum of information required to generate an invoice, and this is a massive mistake. These days, customers are scare, and even scarcer are the resources available to reach out to customers to encourage them to return. With so many people working from home, demand for dry cleaning is way down, time between orders has grown, and we need to be on top of monitoring our customer’s spending patterns to ensure a steady flow of garments coming in to keep staff working and the cash register ringing. If only have a name and a phone number on file, your only means of communication with these customers is to pick up that phone and call them. Phone calls, while effective, are costly in labor and time to make them.
Without naming names, and getting into a highly politically charged conversation, we have witnessed a major figure lose access to his major platform of communication with his base of fans and followers. One moment, unfettered direct access to 80 million plus followers, and the next, cut off and silenced. Discussion about rights and freedom of expression aside, anytime you invest vast resources into one single platform, you are simply putting all your eggs into one basket. Drop or lose that basket, and you are sunk. Worse, have your account suspended or deleted and you are out of the running entirely.
You need multiple avenues of access to your customers. As we witnessed when one avenue collapses or is taken away, you must have back up and alternatives in place or face going dark. Plus, some customers may prefer to monitor Facebook or Instagram instead of Twitter. In fact, some people may shun social media entirely and prefer to receive text messages as their preferred method of communication. While it is difficult for a business to administer multiple channels of communication, we really have no choice in the matter, we simply have to do it, or face obscurity.
First and foremost, you should be using your point of sale system as the main focal point to capture and record customer contact details. My reasoning for this is simple; it’s where your customer’s spending habits are also recorded. It’s very easy to run reports such as inactive customer reports, new customer reports, big spender reports, etc. All these reports are key to campaigns designed to influence customer spending, such as the inactive customer report tied into a marketing campaign designed to offer an incentive to inactive customers to come back, place an order and keep active on your customer list. I know it sounds overly simple, but it is shocking how many businesses DO NOT have a customer reactivation program in place, which brings me to ask the questions, DO YOU?
So, have a procedure in place with your counter staff to collect at the very least, name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, cell phone number and email address. This very basic information will give you a solid base on which to build. Having this information on file is crucial as it also forms the basis of being able to import this information into other social media, then be used to target your current customers on those platforms, or be able to target customers just like the customers you have on those platforms. Having complete NAP (Name Address and Phone number) within your point of sale system also enables you (and us) to export records from your point of sale system an import into external systems such as an email marketing platform or a text message marketing platform.
Encourage your customers to sign up and subscribe to more than one communications channel. Given reductions in organic reach on Facebook means only 2 percent of your followers and fan base will see what you post, whereas Twitter and Instagram have much higher reach rates. The odds of your posts being seen are much greater if your fans are on multiple channels you are using. After all, the entire point of communicating with your customers is communication, it’s not communication if your message is not being delivered and seen.
Using more than one channel is more work, in fact, it’s a lot more work, but, its work that drives your business. In my opinion, it’s rather bold, if not downright arrogant to think that just because you had a customer come in and do business with you once that you now own all their future business. The fact of the matter is, once your customer comes in and picks up their order from you and leaves, that customer is absolutely free to go to any other cleaner they choose. It’s entirely up to you to encourage and entice that customer back to do business with you once again. You simply have to earn every sale, more so in this Pandemic market. Leave nothing to chance, be proactive. Earn and get that sale.