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Prior Customers


It is an understatement to say that your client database is probably an under-utilised resource. You have to decide what kind of resource you want your former customers to be. There are probably at least three kinds of activity that you can list:

1. No or very little activity. This is pretty close to what you probably have today with the vast majority of your previous customers. People buy stuff from you and go out into the community, and you hardly ever hear from most of them. Perhaps they come to visit your shop occasionally, or perhaps they read your social media output, but otherwise they are not engaged with your business either to your benefit or theirs.

2. Moderate activity. This is the rare situation where an old customer is contributing to your business in some way, or receiving additional benefit from having bought something from you. Perhaps they are a member of a group you have set up or have referred another customer to you, in exchange for something.

3. Viable activity. This is what you should want: former customers actively engaged with the business in various ways, organising events, referring others, donating money, and so on.

You need to list out exactly what you want from prior customers, based on the maxim ‘If something is not occurring, you have probably failed to instigate it.’

You should probably also work out various forms of exchange for such contributions.

A good starting point would be to extensively survey your database to find out what they need and want in order to be more active.

This programme is an initial series of steps to address some of the above.

Purpose

Tentatively, here’s a statement of purpose with regard to your old customers which is up for discussion/modification:

The purpose of an Active Old Customer is:

To help your business contact new and old public, to assist you with your duties, and to contribute to the continuing well-being and prosperity of your business.

1. As an immediate action, get promotion flooding out to prior customers. ___

2. Ensure that your phone and email lines are open and fully functioning so that prior customers can:

• call in

• email in

• enquire through your website

• come in to the shop directly

• be referred by others ___

3. When a prior customer enquires into your business, find out some details about them. Be polite and interested in each person that calls. Answer any questions that you can. Get some information and try to book them in for a return visit if appropriate. ___

4. Get the following general information from each caller/emailer:

1) Name

2) Contact Information such as email and/or phone number

3) Are they looking for something specific?

5) Any other information that they provide you with which is relevant.

(While you should try not to talk to them in too much detail over the phone and encourage them to come for a visit because then you have time to really communicate face to face, each situation is different and you have to judge it individually.) ___

5. Cross check the data given with your database and amend accordingly. Write up a summary of how the contact went and what is to happen next. ___

6. Follow up on all communication. Email, call and write letters. Every prior customer is completely different. Use your judgement as to how many times you contact them and how you contact them. (Example: someone enquires by email. Write back immediately. Then, wait for a reply. If no reply, a week or 10 days later, write another email, etc.) ___

7. Always answer emails from prior customers the day that you read them. It is always appreciated when you reply quickly. ___

8. Answer all prior customers’ questions in a polite and informative way. ___

9. Find ways to keep prior customers interested in your business. For example: if you have emailed them and they aren’t replying then you can email them an email with a success story, or send them a magazine in the post etc. ___

10. Organise PR Events to either get more prior customers into the shop or website, to get them activated as referrers etc. ___

11. Draw up a survey for all prior customers which covers such questions as:

What would you need from the business in order to be more actively involved in promoting it to others?

What would you need from the business in order to actively refer others to it?

What events or activities would you bring you back to the business for a visit?

In one paragraph, can you summarise your main experience of the business for use in marketing?

How would you like to contribute to the business in the future?

and so on.___

12. Get this survey out to as many prior customers as possible, using email and social media, and encouraging recipients to forward it to other prior customers. Get responses in and collate them, then devise future programme targets based on what you find. ___

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