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Accounting is Just the Beginning

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6 ways to Collect Customers Contact Details

Possessing and leveraging off a database of customer names and addresses, whatever your line of business, is of key importance in running a successful business and as well as selling it when the time is right – without loyal, identified customers what will your business be worth?

Why then are so many business owners reluctant or unwilling to collect these? Are they frightened the customers will say no, too lazy or just don’t appreciate the value of an up-to-date database? If you ask customers the right way they won’t mind, and even if the odd one does say no, so what?

Here are six easy ways to collect customer names and addresses:

1- “Self-billing”. What many businesses do is toget the customers to complete their own name, address, telephone number and e-mail address on their invoice. This is OK but they don’t necessarily check that you’ve filled in all details. For example, I went to Tony’s Tyre Service last week and when presented with the duplicate invoice book, I filled in my name, address, and telephone number but not my e-mail address and they didn’t notice or care!

-> Effectiveness rating – 6 out of 10.

2- Make it Part of the Paying Procedure. Here, rather than asking for the customers details separately just make it part of the sales process so it just naturally “fits in” so that the customer doesn’t even realise what’s happening. This is what happens in Harvey Norman and Dzine Furniture in Hastings. Harvey Norman though doesn’t actually use the information (apart from making you feel important by finding your details on their till) but Dzine do, sending you a great letter welcoming you as a customer, giving you some useful information on furniture after-care and asking you to complete a survey to provide them with even more information about you!

-> Effectiveness rating – 8 out of 10.

3- Offer Something Free. Here it’s just a matter of choosing something of high perceived value but of low cost to you as an inducement, maybe from one of your suppliers at their cost. This could be anything that suits your business but some good examples are things that nearly always lead on to business for you. For an optometrist, a free eye test, or a free safety check for an auto- mechanic, a free coffee in a café and so on. This can be very effective as you can openly check you have all their details (including their e-mail) before they get their free, whatever it is.

-> Effectiveness rating – 9 out of 10.

4- Competition or Draws. A tried and tested method but a bit old hat now and often the prizes are cheap and awful e.g. a firm of accountants who offer a 30 minute consultation with their business expert! By stipulating 30 minutes it’s obviously being given to you grudgingly and everyone knows that you can get your first meeting free anyway. Or equally boring, a $500 voucher for radio advertising when everyone gets a “discount” of $500 anyway!

-> Effectiveness rating – 5 out of 10.

5- Loyalty Club. Again a tried and tested method and effective when what you’re offering is of reasonable value. Coffee cards and 10th one-free cards used by hairdressers are no good as then they don’t capture your details. If you’re receiving something in return why would you mind giving out your contact details? Get an impressive looking card organised and spell out the benefits for them if they fill in your Loyalty Club application form e.g. discounts for buying two not one, prior notification of new product lines or a monthly draw. Make them feel important when they come into your business and give them special treatment if they refer a friend.

-> Effectiveness rating – 8 out of 10.

6- Just Ask! Why be wimps, as Gordon Gekko would say! Have a think and get a script together and practice this with your staff until you are comfortable saying it. For example “Can you please fill in your contact details here please?” If they say no say “Oh what a shame. It’s just that we offer customers on our VIP list first choice on our new fashion lines and every month we hold a VIP club meeting where only VIP members get wine and cheese and first pick etc etc”. Is that difficult – I think not, providing it’s built into your systems.

-> Effectiveness rating – 6 out of 10 (as often the system is by-passed!)

What To Avoid

Don’t just leave a pile of forms on the counter in a prominent position and glance towards these when the customer is paying as these will just be ignored – I do, don’t you?

Our Advice

If you need help collecting your customer’s names and addresses call 0800 ASK NICK or e-mail nick@abac.co.nz.

2 Responses to 6 ways to Collect Customers Contact Details

  1. Thanks Mark, much appreciated!

    You’re doing great work too!

  2. Nick – great post. I also think collecting customer data falls into 2 categories: Offline and online. You have already started collecting data online via your subscription list, so good luck.