Five proven strategies to engage customers more proactively

To deliver a truly exceptional customer experience, printers (as well as any successful company or organization) must respond well when customers contact them. That’s a given in this challenging and competitive industry. However, you also have to take the initiative and contact customers and potential clients on your own. This type of proactive communication answers questions before they’re raised and addresses problems before they occur. Shops that are proactive regarding customer communications also reduce costs – because they’re often able to pre-empt numerous separate phone calls and e-mails through a single, well-crafted outbound message. Several aspects of proactive communications have been proven to be particularly effective for enhancing the overall customer experience. These include:

Segmentation. Not all messages should go out to every customer every time. You need to be selective – send customers and leads only information that’s relevant to their specific needs. If you’re not sure of their needs, then find out first. Successful printers do this by using their customer data to segment communications by relevant attributes – such as demographics, geography, current and historical purchasing activities, or explicitly expressed preferences.

Personalization. Communication with customers should always be as personalized as possible. This personalization can be as simple as using the recipient’s name in a greeting. However, it can also be extended to other aspects of a customer’s relationship with your shop – such as types of services previously used, account balances, upcoming deadlines, and so on. This kind of personalized approach can increase the value of proactive communications to customers and enhance their overall experience by giving them the sense that they’re more than just a phone number or an account.

Timing and frequency. Customers, and especially potential clients, don’t want to be inundated with your communications. You need to be smart about the frequency and timing of communications with them. For example, it’s seldom wise to tell a customer on the 24th of the month about a program that’s available only until the end of the month.

 The right tools. All companies, especially commercial printers, need to acquire a wide range of capabilities if they’re to effectively manage proactive communications with their customers. Obviously, they need customer knowledge to segment and personalize their communications. They also need collaboration tools for developing message content and a delivery management system to ensure that messages reach the intended recipients at the right time. There are several excellent software tools and options on the market for delivering the right message at the best possible time. Proactive engagement is especially useful for informing new and current customers about any new print products, equipment or services you may have. It’s just common sense that you can’t serve your customers well if they aren’t aware of your many improvements. However, be careful with your messaging. If you’re introducing a new product or service, frame the discussion as simply conveying information to keep them up to date – not as a hard sales pitch. And if you’re telling the world about your fabulous new printer or other equipment, remember to always stress client benefits and not device features. The best way to do this, obviously, is to show them a sample of what your fabulous new printer of finishing technology can do.

 

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.