Managing Customers….Does your Heart Sink OR Soar?
Published in the February-March 2019 Newsletter of the Community Banks of Iowa
As part of your bank’s strategy, how well does your organization manage your customers? Whether your Customer Management System (CRM) is formal and expensive or more informal and less expensive, how effectively you manage your customers is critical to the strength of your relationship with them.
When I visit with organizations about their current relationship with their customers and how they manage the relationship, the first question I ask is: What is your first gut reaction when a customer calls? Usually there are two common reactions….a sinking feeling OR your heart soars. Let’s considering the soaring reaction first. You are pleased that they have called because you are confident that the call will be a request for your product or service, an opportunity for new business, or maybe a request for your expert opinion on some matter. If you have this positive reaction to a customer’s call, I would predict that your system for responding to customers’ needs is in good shape. Congratulations!
What I have found more often to be the case is that the reaction to the call churns up negative feelings….What do they want now? What is wrong? If that is the case, it is time for some real attention to your system of customer care.
Where do you start? To assess the current state of your customer management system, these are some initial questions to ask:
- Do I know what is of value to my customer?
In this quickly changing world we live in, the needs of customers change. If you don’t make the effort to really know what they value, someone else will.
- Do I understand their requirements?
Make it a point to ask if your product or service is fulfilling their needs. What is currently causing them pain? Can you find a solution or them? They will so appreciate that you are interested enough to ask.
- How close am I to them, to understand their needs?
How often do you communicate with them? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually? Find ways to make more frequent contact with them – in person, on the phone, by email. Show you care.
- Am I ever afraid to ask for their requirements?
A common reason I hear is that organizations are afraid they will not be able to supply what they need. How will you ever overcome this fear if you don’t ask them to understand their needs? You can’t ASSUME that you KNOW their needs…we all know what ASSUME spells.
A fact that you cannot ignore
Dr. Deb Oliver, Executive Director, Iowa Quality Center