There's a point where a company becomes large enough to lose sight of customers as individuals.
The old adages of “Fake it ‘til you make it” and “Appear to be bigger than you are,” are how most organisations – particularly ones that focus on B2B – market themselves. This way, you give customers the impression that you can handle even their largest, most complex orders with ease.
That all bodes well if you’re a small or mid-size organisation, but when you grow to be a bigger player, your size can become an inhibitor to sales. There’s a point where a company becomes large enough to give the impression that they look at their customers as simply a number or a cog in a wheel.
Appearing to be a smaller, more personable business can give the impression of being a more caring, accessible organisation. Here, three ways to do so.
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Speak the customer's language
Never underestimate the power of perception when serving specific client groups. Try segmenting your audiences by industry or by location. The latter can be particularly helpful if you work in multiple countries. Regardless, there are certain things you can do to make yourself look smaller or better yet, more local and accessible.
Start with offering websites or web pages geared toward the particular audience segment. At National Pen, we currently operate 26 different sites, including one in Danish, an overlooked market where potential customers are often forced to visit an English or German site for their business needs. You'd be surprised how receptive a client base will be to an online presence in their native dialect, leading to higher conversion rates.
Next, tailor your direct mail for each customer group. With CPAs, one of my company’s mainstay client bases, we print the equivalent of an IRS 1040 form imprinted with an individual’s contact information wrapped around the barrel of a pen.
We typically send these products as a sample in the mail to entice them to inquire about placing an order. In doing so, we experience a significant increase in response rates because we express our ability to cater to them as unique and valued customers.
Make your contact count
When it comes to how to contact a customer, it's best to live by the Platinum Rule: Interact with people the way they prefer. It’s imperative to keep a record of customer data.
Track the engagement throughout time, and look for behavioural patterns that will drive any conversation and make it increasingly personalised moving forward. The first interaction is usually a good place to start the process.
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In our case, we give prospects three options when we reach out with a personalised pen sample with their name, company and contact information on it. Interested customers can respond either by mailing an order form, going online to a specific website or calling in response. Their selection is usually a good indication of how they want to interact moving forward.
If the customer prefers being contacted by phone, there are a few more steps to take in order to make the experience optimal. Make sure that client data is segregated by time zones and outbound phone calls focused either first thing in the morning, the lunch hour or late in the business day in order to be less intrusive.
It’s also beneficial to determine if a business owner has any seasonal surges in business – such as an accountant during tax time – so as to avoid interrupting a very important time of year.
Make the client feel special
The concept of providing the same amount of effort to each company no matter the size is a fundamental practice in the art of running a successful business. It’s easier said than done, however.
Typically, this challenge could be the most rigorous, but most rewarding in the long run. Three fundamental principles are imperative in ensuring that each client feels like the most important one.
The first of which is to keep track of any purchase history for everyone – even with a two-person startup. In doing this, one will have the information to create a future ad campaign that can be absolutely unique to the client and build a dynamic ad with specific products offered to each client in the future.
Second, be a genuine and caring human being. We're all here to make a profit, but when it comes to communicating, it's very difficult to do so if we can't build personal relationships. Spend some time to develop rapport with your customer base; get to know them, ask about their lives and try to find something you can follow up with down the road.
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Lastly, be one that can directly relate to the client in their language and cultural preferences. This is also extremely beneficial to avoid misunderstandings in order to resolve complaints and restore good customer relationships.
Giving customers the sense that they're valued for their individual business is important – particularly so as your organisation gets larger. Developing processes and systems that enable you to do that in a scalable manner will enable you to continue growing exponentially.
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