For most Singaporeans, our homes will be one of the biggest expenses we'll ever take on in our lives, whether it's a resale/BTO flat, condo or landed property. We want to treat it well, look after it and make sure it’s the best place to live it can possibly be. However – and my family can be guilty of this from time to time – the hectic pace of life can get in the way and suddenly you find objects in the wrong place, items that haven’t been useful for years taking up precious space and so much clutter that it can be almost impossible to determine your most important belongings.
A customer base can become a lot like a house that needs a thorough spring clean. How many businesses, for example, can say they’re happy with the way their customer data is organised or that they can quickly find the answers they’re looking for when planning CRM strategy? Customer data is probably every business’s most prized possession, but without organisation, you miss growth opportunities, and chances to cross and upsell. Worse, not knowing what your customers want can mean they’ll leave for someone who does.
Taking the time to “spring clean” those relationships can have real benefit to the bottom line. For one, it’ll help you understand your customers better, and maybe allow you to offer something more bespoke and personal. This is vital, especially when you consider the finding from an Edelman Earned Brand 2016 study which revealed Singapore’s consumer-brand relationship score fell short of the full potential (39 points out of a 100).
Just as tidying up your homes before Chinese New Year visitations can help you feel ready to host your family and friends, giving your customer base a deep and thorough clean can have that same transformative effect.
Not all customers are equal
Without clarity and organisation, businesses can end up giving the wrong kind of client the same amount of time and attention as their most high-value – or the ones with the greatest potential to be high value.
A customer spring clean, for example, could help identify who’s joined you as part of a promotional special offer. Those that have arrived looking for a deal are more likely to go somewhere else quickly, similar to how discount-hunter shoppers in Singapore behave during 11/11 or the Great Singapore Sale. So should your team be spending too much time and money on accounts that probably aren't going to stick around? Indeed, according to an Accenture study, 80% of Singapore consumers are withdrawing their loyalty to brands, and close to two-thirds have switched providers of goods and services in the last 12 months – which means it’s vital to build a real connection with those that have initially had a positive experience.
Sprucing up your customer data allows you to identify the most important clients and devise bespoke communications and contact strategies that can extract more growth. It’s only by getting rid of the clutter that you can get a sense of where you might be wasting time and energy and, more importantly, where you should focus your energies better.
Of course, all businesses segment their customers to some extent, but a proper spring clean will allow this to become more sophisticated, especially when aided with the right technology. Our research showed that 88% of business and IT decision-makers in Singapore are most likely to invest in technology to boost customer retention, so it’s clear that most businesses will be open to adopting innovation that helps them better retain their customers.
With the right technology, you’ll be able to go beyond simple segmenting based on factors like location or length of relationship. De-cluttering your customer data and looking at things afresh will allow you to spot patterns and identify characteristics your customers have in common that were previously hidden. With the customers your business knows best, for example, you might be able to segment them psychographically – dividing them up based on factors like social values and personality. By identifying your customers’ passion points and what energizes them, you’ll be able to design bespoke relationship strategies that will be more rewarding for the business over time.
You can also segment on behavior – your spring cleaning could help you see how often your customers use your product or how loyal you think they are. Whatever segmentation route you go down, the important thing is that you’re seeing your customers more clearly, which makes it easier to tailor your strategies towards them.
Survey from a position of strength
Companies often conduct customer research because they don’t have a clear view of their customers and in lieu of a proper spring clean and segmentation. They can end up sending out a survey desperate to find something, anything that might help them figure out a strategy.
However, if you survey your customers after you’ve gone through the de-cluttering process, you’re going to have a much clearer sense of what you want to find out, the right questions to ask and who to target your research towards. You’ll also be able to see where your customer data holes are, so why not conduct some research that will provide the information to fill those gaps? Any kind of survey is far more powerful once you’ve got a clearer picture of what you want to achieve.
That’s what the spring clean is all about – providing some much-needed clarity that will make your business more efficient and extract more value from your customers.
Of course - once those customer relationships are sparkling and renewed, the challenge is to keep them that way and not let the clutter return. Without this fundamental step, businesses will risk losing profitability and pushing away customers, especially in an age of distrust, anxiety and apathy.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Murali is the Vice President of the Customer Success Group (CSG) in Asia Pacific based in Singapore. The Customer Success Group are a team of trusted advisors, consultants, and experts crucial to the success of Salesforce customers. In his role as VP of CSG, Murali leads a dynamic team of success managers, consultants and architects who help customers unleash the full power of Salesforce and drive business growth for the APAC region.
With 18 years of business, management and technology experience under his belt, Murali’s expertise lies in building and managing businesses, their optimization and establishing strategic business partnerships. Murali joined Salesforce in 2005 from Hewlett-Packard.
Murali holds a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of New South Wales, and has an Executive Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management.