Implementing best practices for customer relationship management (CRM) means your business has a clear understanding of your customers’ essential needs and wants. If you’re looking to form lasting relationships that pay off in the short and long term, manage your customer interaction with a strategy centered on meeting their basic needs.
You can identify and actively foster 15 basic needs your customers have on a psychological level, including (among others) those for affiliation, autonomy, and attention. Author and communication specialist Jib Fowles wrote about how best to meet these needs in advertising and marketing. Because Fowles’ categories span all demographics, his concepts can be used in managing customer and vendor relationships as well. Combining effective and thorough needs analysis with profile development and targeted marketing is the optimal solution for building your brand and relationships alike.
1. Get Back to Basics.
If you want to relate to customers on a more personal level, your organization must identify the areas where it is failing to meet their needs. Do you know what your customers really want? Are you accurately collecting and reviewing feedback? Does your customer service staff have access to the same information as your sales staff? When you take the time to gather and centralize customer communications and data, your business has the ability to meet customer needs, forge a more positive impression with your clients, and (ultimately) develop stronger relationships.
Warren N. Bimblick, Senior Vice President of Penton Media, says it best: “Brand marketing programs were meant to build up an impression of a company or product [so] that when [the] time was right to purchase, the consumer…felt positively-disposed toward a brand.”
2. Don’t Offer Products—Offer Solutions.
In online marketing—where every nanosecond counts— the best practice is to determine your customers’ needs, and then use specific sales and marketing techniques to show customers you understand them.
To be effective, you need to do more than simply offer a product. Your organization must show how that product helps improve your customers’ lives. Ask your customers why they sought out your company in the first place, and then focus your customer service efforts on meeting that need. For example, if your products give them a sense of financial or personal security, reinforce that idea in all your communications.
3. Forget Blanket Communications.
No one likes a form letter. It makes us feel cheated, as if the sender doesn’t actually care about giving us the attention we want and deserve. When communicating with your customers, avoid a one-size-fits all technique. Instead create a tailored message. If you market a domestic product, for example, your customers may have strong needs related to nurturing, guidance and safety. Creating a message that evokes images of home and happy families can position your product or service as the ideal choice to meet the needs of your target market.
No matter what needs you’re addressing, it’s paramount that your communication efforts speak directly to you customer with personalization, sensitivity, and understanding.
4. Create a Sense of Belonging.
Your target market will most likely have a need to achieve a goal or feel as though they are a part of something. With an effective CRM system you can use the information you gather to create an atmosphere that welcomes both existing and potentials as part of a group, assuring them that your business serves as more than just a product.
Saturn is an example of a company that used this technique exceptionally well with the “Join the Saturn Family” campaign. When customers bought a car at the dealership, employees took a picture of the customer with their new vehicle and added it to a display of other happy customers. This campaign created a sense of belonging and effectively transformed the car shopping experience for their clients.
5. It’s About the Big Picture.
By keeping your customers and their needs at the forefront of your CRM and marketing efforts, you can tailor your message to speak directly to them and set the stage for a relationship that lasts. Anthony Smith, founder of Insightly, a cloud-based CRM solution for small business, highlighted the importance of doing everything within your power to create a positive customer experience when he said “Managing your customers and the interactions and communication that you have with them pays off for your bottom line because it’s always much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to try to attract new customers.”
Professional speaker Patricia Fripp summed up the long-term strategies of need-based communication perfectly. “You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”