Building a contact strategy beyond acquisition

Acquiring a customer can be difficult and costly. For many marketers, it may not be a profitable proposition until the third or fourth sale. Effectively managing the customer interaction after acquisition is crucial.

A solid customer relationship management approach can pay dividends. A system that can create a single view of the customer is truly empowering. An integrated, relational CRM system can help analyze lead activity and score, segment and cluster for future action. It can help determine the appropriate level of engagement so you can tier customers by behavior and buying patterns. Your best customers get one approach, while marginal customers may get something completely different — or maybe nothing at all.

I recommend a CRM system with the capability to capture leads and customer activity from all touch points. Data should be fed real-time to the CRM system, which then assigns leads to sales reps. Sales reps ought to receive this lead information in real time and follow up within a designated timeframe. When a customer calls the company, the CRM system should track the time it takes to not only respond to the call, but also how quickly the problem gets resolved.

Company-issued business requirement documents are useful for providing details on how to handle lead and customer contacts and how to capture and document information. These documents can also tell employees the action steps required, the prospect/customer’s level of interest or need, the potential value to the firm, the last contact date, the form of contact (if outbound by phone, name of caller), the result of contact, and next steps.

A key element for CRM success is detail logging. Sales and customer service reps should be constantly monitored and motivated, and their activity and production should be part of their review process. Reward them for following the group’s business requirement document and making sure that every prospect and customer contact is a positive one.

Contact strategies at this stage are all about customer care, and an integrated and relational database can provide the details and the insights needed to not only rank the file based on contribution but to tailor messages that resonate with that individual.

Before implementing a CRM-based contact strategy, it’s important to have a blueprint for how raw data is loaded and then transformed into useful statistics, with the desired outputs in the form of reports, analysis and the datasets your company wants or needs. A company also needs to define expected behavior from the reps.

Without a blueprint and documentation, there can be a lot of wasted effort, frustration and budget overruns. But once it’s up and running efficiently everyone will be asking how you could manage any of this without a solid CRM system.

Peter Toth is the director of direct marketing at Carton Donofrio Partners. You may reach him at [email protected].

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