How to Find Better Customers

The last couple of years have been hard on retailers. Customers expect sale after sale, more and more discounts, incredible service, and tons of freebies. And loyalty? Forget it. There's always another deal around the corner.

Photo: Flickr user Zizzybaloobah.
So how do you find better customers?

Reward the behaviors you want, and discourage the ones you don't.

First, examine your best customers.

How profitable are they? What are they buying? Are they on your email list? Do they follow you on Twitter? Are they your fans on Facebook? What's converting them to buy, and buy again?

In the process of this examination, you might find that your best customers are frequent responders to your Facebook promotions. That's great, but how can you use this knowledge?

Second, reward the behaviors you want.

If Facebook is your most profitable channel, then make your promotions even more profitable by crafting deals with the greatest possible margins.

Encourage customers on all channels to join you on Facebook as well. If your Facebook promotions are generating the most profitable customers, the more fans you have, the better.

Third, discourage the behaviors you don't want.

Which customers are the most expensive to serve? How can you redirect them to more profitable channels? If you find, for example, that customers who call your call center are the least profitable, consider adding more ways in which to serve them, perhaps encouraging them to use instant messaging, online resources (your FAQ are comprehensive, right?) or Twitter to ask questions.

Re-examine your shopping cart - is it too difficult to buy online? If you have a two-screen process, can you get it down to one screen? Can you highlight the safety and security of your shopping cart process?

At the same time, make sure your customers still have several options for both sales and service- your stores, call center, web site, and email. You don't want to turn people off unless you're absolutely sure you don't want their business.

What are you doing to reward your best customers? Please share in the comments.

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