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Best Practices: Read Your Customer

March 25, 2015

By Phil Larson, president of Shepherd Consulting OK and author of “Manage Well: Eclectic Tips on Excellence."

Best Practices: Read Your Constituents

“Come in and know me better, man” said the Ghost of Christmas Present, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Customers, clients, and constituents get custom care and concern.
One of the best practices we find today comes from a financial services provider. They have an irregular habit of reading through customer collateral to gain an understanding of the customer of the customer and to better understand the existing client. How can I take some business development wisdom and turn this into my best practice?

Read Your ConstituentsRead Your Constituents: As a regular habit spend a day a year analyzing a single customer. Involve all of your key team in this activity. Most shops have 5-8 key departments or entities they serve. Every day work is going through the shop with each person in the workflow chain giving their best to color consistency, registration, accuracy of fold and finish, rapid turnaround, and distribution. Do you ever read what your customer writes? Take one day a month and read your customer.

Gather Data: Run a report out of your job tracking for that customer that shows how frequently they run different types of jobs and how many pieces are in the jobs. Through the quarter preceding, keep a sample box of pieces just for this activity. Prior to the day, call the key decision maker in the customer organization and ask them how they feel about your services and what they see changing in the next year.

Read: Now, read through the content of the pieces. What key words and phrases appear? What is the driving message? What calls to action are repeated? Know your customer by knowing how they want their customer to respond.

Review: Step back from the content and look at layout. Compare the printed pieces to any customer web, facebook, linkedin, or other online presence. What are the important colors and design elements? While this reflects how your customer sees their customer, it also gives insight to your customer’s personality and style of doing business.

Persona: Put all of this together and draft a persona. Note the persona of your customer and the persona to whom they are communicating. Age bracket, lifestyle, product need, approach (scientific, playful, serious, health concerned, business like) of both your customer and their customer are important to note. If you already have notes, then expand on what you have learned. Take special attention to any changes you may have seen in the last two years. Keep up with your customer as they grow and develop their business.

Congeal: Gather your key decision makers in the shop that serve this customer. Share your insights and ask for their input. Merge that into your notes. Decide on one to three ways you can improve service to this particular customer over the next 18 months. Think long term. Think customer retention. Get back with that key customer decision maker and clarify priority insights you’ve gleaned that match your original conversation.

Expand: Decide if there are other similar prospective customers that fit this customer’s persona. You are doing well with this one. Go find others like them and grow your niche.

ROI - ROESummary: Get to know your key customers. Become a friend and consort with the information you have. Show your customer you care at a deep and intimate level. This is a best practice worthy of your immediate and ongoing attention.

Call me Phil @ 405.388.8037 or eme phil@shepherdok.com and share your best practice. Or just ask me a question. Start a conversation. Find a new solution.

Go Ahead and Grow. THRIVE!

This article focuses on THRIVE side of the operational pyramid. www.shepherdok.com

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