Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Customer touch programs help companies stay top-of-mind.
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W hen asked, most managers will tell you their companies have customer-touch programs in place. "Yeah, we have a customer-touch program," one executive said to me recently. "We mail our catalog to each customer annually and our sales force calls on each customer at least twice per year." This is not what I mean by a customer-touch program. A customer-touch program is a more structured approach for maximizing sales with a select group of customers. A customer-touch program consists of placing groups and individual prospects or customers on customer-touch "tracks." The number of tracks, the number of steps per track, and the timing between steps will depend heavily on your business and the types of prospects and customers you are working with. Here is an example of a simplified lead track, for new leads generated from a trade show: Step 1: Send email within 48 hours thanking the prospect for visiting your booth. Step 2: Call prospect within five working days after the show to determine interest. Step 3: For interested prospects, send literature explaining current product/service offerings within 10 working days after the show. Step 4: Follow-up with a personal visit within 15 working days after the trade show. Step 5: For a prospect that orders a new product/service, send a personalized thank-you letter within three working days after the order has been received. Step 6: Place converted lead onto the customer track. Over the past year my company has created and executed a variety of customer-touch programs. I wanted to know what works well, and why. I also wanted to learn how CRM automation software can assist with customer-touch programs. So far the results, measured in terms of new revenues, have been impressive. We are getting more business from existing customers, as well as new business from new customers. These customers confirm that they enjoy hearing from us with meaningful information. The basic principals of customer-touch programs can go a long way. And amplifying those principals through the use of CRM will enhance the results dramatically. CRM software helps organize, automate, and monitor customer-touch efforts. The software assists in sending appropriate marketing and sales messages at the right frequency to the right customers. It also helps to optimize leads by effectively migrating them from a suspect/prospect to a qualified lead. Some CRM software packages even include recommendations on which type of customer-touch programs work best under which circumstances. Companies increasingly are using customer-touch programs as an effective way to build long-term customer loyalty. As the economy pulls out of recession and customers begin to demand more goods and services, can you afford to be without a well-thought-out customer-touch program? Barton Goldenberg is the founder of ISM Inc., a leading CRM consulting company headquartered in Bethesda, Md. He is the author of CRM Automation and publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com. Sidebar: The 7 Basic Principals of Customer-Touch Programs
  1. Speak to your audience on a personal level (e.g., use first names in your greetings when appropriate).
  2. Engage your audience at multiple levels (i.e., CEO, VPs, directors).
  3. Give your audience something that they value at no cost to them (e.g., a copy of a new book or publication relevant to their business).
  4. Ask for advice by giving your audience a forum for their ideas (e.g., feedback forms).
  5. Be gracious (e.g., thank your customers for reading your correspondence and responding).
  6. Be consistent but not overbearing (i.e., send messages on a regular basis, but don't smother your audience with communications).
  7. Set deadlines for responses (e.g., offer expires in two weeks).
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