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Do you have an up-to-date list of your customers?

Do you keep it on a spreadsheet or on customer relationship management software? If your answer is no, then know this: Big companies are coming after your customers with all the modern marketing tools available. In this video, Dex Media CEO and President Joe Walsh tells you how to organize—and defend—your customer list by building a digital database.

Hi, I’m Joe Walsh. Today, let’s talk about your customer list. Do you have one? How far back does it go? Does it contain your client’s names, cell phone numbers, street addresses, their email addresses? Does it list their purchases? Is it on one of those nails where you put all the receipts in a pile? Is it in paper notebook? Is it a computer spreadsheet? Is it in a customer relationship management software system that allows you to do some marketing with it? If you don’t have the information in digital format, in a spreadsheet database or in CRM software, then you have some work to do. Why? Because capturing your customer information and maintaining it in a format enabling you to communicate with your clients is vital.

We all know the old saying, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one.

Well, you can only keep a customer if you work to stay in touch with them to remind them to come back. Just hoping customers will return isn’t enough. To ensure that your clients are coming back, you need to let them know what’s going on in your place of business. What new products or services are you providing? Do you have any specials or discounts running? When is it time for them to come back? Do they have regular appointments? Do they sometimes skip them? You can use reminders to make sure that those appointments don’t get skipped.

Just doing that, staying in front of them and reminding them what’s new and what’s going on, maybe the upcoming appointment, keeps you top of mind. That will get clients to come back more often and avoid skipping visits or appointments. Believe it or not, just telling them that you’re now accepting appointments online and gathering their digital information so that you can stay in touch with them via text or email can create a buzz and interest about your business. The way you do that starts with building a digital database. Once you have that contact information and authorization along with the client’s purchasing information, you can begin to segment your clients into groups. Then set up a program where you’ll email or text these segments.

This is where a CRM system is really powerful.

The frequency of messaging should seem appropriate to you, but don’t be shy. Your customers like to hear from you when you have information that’s of value to them. With the right software, you can build the email or text campaigns in advance as well as schedule the release dates over a period of months or even over the whole year. If this sounds overwhelming, it isn’t, but it helps to have assistance. Several companies can provide you help at reasonable prices, but you need to get started today. Every client who visits and leaves without you knowing who they are or what they purchased is a lost opportunity.

One last thing. This discussion about data collection and digital communication may sound like you’re invading your customer’s privacy. I understand that, but you need to understand that your competitors, especially the big national and regional chains, the online competitors, they’re way ahead of you on this. They’re very good at using these modern tools. Unless you defend your customer base, they will eventually steal your customers and your business. For those customers who don’t really want you to communicate with them, and I doubt there’s that many of those, they can easily decline to provide you the information.

Thanks for listening today. Next time, we’ll talk about using social media to advance your customer acquisition and retention strategy.