As a startup owner, getting your business customers’ definition right will help you increase sales and revenue as well as offer a great customer service experience.
As great as your products and services can be, your business will still require the right customer profile to be able to make good sales.
No doubt about it, customers are an integral part of every successful business; you don’t play with them, you make them happy.
As a small business owner, it’s very important for you to be able to define your customers because every business needs customers to survive.
Who are your customers?
The term “customer” is among the most elastic in management theory. So is your small business among those that claim that their strategies are customer-driven?
Who are your business customers? Customers vary from one business to another; it might be that your customers are the people or entities that buy your products and services and supply your revenue.
However, no matter who you think your customers are, it is essential to know that your business can not survive without their patronage.
Identifying your customers…
Once again, who are your business customers? What is your current customer base; their age, sex, income, and neighbourhood? Some customers are more valuable than others. So how do you identify and sell more to your most valuable customers?
The fact is that every business finds that some customers are more valuable than others. This can be for a range of reasons, from the size of their purchases to the relative ease of managing their account.
Successful businesses are generally those that identify these customers, build relationships with them and work to bring in new customers with a similar profile. Your customers are valuable sources of information that can make your business successful.
Therefore, you should aim to collect data that lets you identify your customers and how they behave. This will vary depending on your customer profile.
If you sell to individual consumers, you might want to know about their age, income, etc. For businesses, you might want to know what industry they operate in and their size.
You should also try to find out what they think about you and your products and services. For example, learn what they like and dislike and why they choose to use you.
If you have just a few important customers, it’s worth getting detailed feedback from them. Companies that sell to individual consumers sometimes use customer surveys. If you sell online, you can use your website to capture some information automatically.
Understanding and profiling your customers
No doubt about it, understanding your customers will go a long way in helping you to sell more. The more you know about them and their needs, the easier it is to identify opportunities to sell them new products and target them with appropriate offers.
Also, profiling existing customers makes it easier to find new ones. You can look for similar prospects, and sell to them in a similar way. You can use the information you have on customers to improve efficiency. Keeping a central record of customer details and sales reduces errors and speeds up transactions.
However, you must make sure that you comply with data protection regulations for any personal information on existing and potential customers that you collect, keep and use. There are specific rules for e-commerce. You can also improve customer service when you understand your customers.
Better access to information helps you deal with customers more quickly. You can tailor product offerings and provide personalised treatment. The right information makes it easier to identify and resolve any problems.
Finally, understanding your customers helps your planning. You can predict what they will buy, and estimate how much stock you need. Linking customer management to purchasing can dramatically improve profitability.
Getting your customers definition right
In most cases, the most important business customers are not those that generate the most revenue but those that can unlock the most value in your business.
For some businesses, the primary customer will be the end-user or consumer of the product or service. For others, an intermediary (such as a reseller or a broker) will be the critical customer to which organisational resources should be devoted.
Having identified your customers, you should be able to know how your customers learn about your product or service. It will not only help your business to build a good customer profile if you can identify how customers get to know about your business, it will also help you to understand how each of your business marketing channels is performing.
As a business owner, you ought to know whether your customers get you through such marketing channels as advertising, direct mail, word-of-mouth marketing, Yellow Pages and others. This is essential because it will give you the opportunity to know which of the marketing channels bring the most customers.
Another thing you should know about your customer is the qualities they value most about your product or service – selection, convenience, service, reliability, availability, affordability. This will enable you to make proper adjustments where necessary to serve your customers better.