Friday, October 5, 2012

Cultivating Your Customer

 BY Nick Sutherland
We have loyalty programs. Then there’s lead nurturing. Along with the many variations of permission marketing. And not to mention, the growing number of social media and app media that is a location -based service. Trying to enhance the customer relationship is not a new idea.  

The problem with how we as marketers, advertisers, businesses and brands approach the customer is the fact that our goal and only goal is to get the sale. In the majority of cases, that’s it. That’s the truth to our pursuits. The be all and end all to our primary objective. Don’t get me wrong , I’m a believer in business. However, we are constantly and continually pursuing a system of acquisition and reacquisition rather than focusing on retention and personal customer growth. For some this is fine. But so much opportunity is left on the table.

In a world of growing competition and at a period that’s becoming increasingly known as the age of the customer, we have to rethink our business models. We have to rethink how we approach, value, enhance and provide a mutually beneficial relationship for both the seller and the buyer. The customer will always make purchases. So why simply settle for the sale? Why not go beyond that one single event? Why not settle for continued sales from the returning customer instead?

Cultivating your customer is by no means an easy process. Like any relationship, it takes some work to make something great. It has to go beyond the mass emails, check-ins, barcode scans and loyalty points programs. It has to be real and it has to be human. It has to be authentic and it has to be meaningful.  
Although social media attempts to create and solve the issue of enhanced relationships, it’s thinking and logic takes on a very traditional approach in more instances than it should.  It’s essence is often removed as a result. Leaving the customer to be felt as if they were removed themselves.

 Yes, we’re all interested in great “deals” and promotions that spike our interest. And that will always work to an extent. But we would always enjoy the personal touch versus being part of the known mass audience. Luckily, technology is making this easier with there being no better time than now to differentiate and make this about you, the customer.

Great customer service has evangelized many brands and businesses. But great customer service is only concerned up to the point of the sale and maybe some assistance after. Who says the relationship has to end there? Regardless of which category and perceived lifetime value a product or service receives. We’ve been led to believe nothing exists beyond the purchase. Though, I’m hardly suggesting a courtesy call. Does the this vicious cycle merely end here? Considering you won’t purchase said item again, right.

Great customer service has had the ability to profoundly impact how we choose where we decide to spend our dollar. So much so that is has become a significant factor in many of the purchasing decisions we make. Now, think of the opportunities that exist should you expand that mentality to the point of the next purchase. After all, many of us will most certainly purchase more than one pair of shoes, continue to be a part of a growing services environment and endlessly entertain our interests.
Customer cultivation could most definitely be interpreted as methods that currently exist.

 That sense and understanding would be flawed. This is not about sending or providing the customer with something in order to prompt another sale. This is about saying thank you. This is about confidently giving the customer something to enjoy with no recourse other than for that something to be enjoyed by the customer.This is about going above and beyond all existing buyer and seller experiences and perceptions. This is about creating a real relationship and a storyboard. 

 Cultivate the customer, your customer. Deliver the happiness they deserve. And watch everything grow.

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