Business Practices: Who’s your best customer?

This seems like a simple question and most of our companies have a database full of figures that could tell us within seconds who spent the most money with our company last year, last month, or even last week.

But who pumped the most amount of revenue into your business last year is often not your best customer. This customer might have cost you in other ways. We all know who this customer is: the one who always has a custom order, the one who spends more time on the phone with your support team than they do working, the one who has the same billing question every month.

So how can you calculate the value your customers bring to your business? The August 11th issue of Advertising Age (sorry, I can only give you the abstract) suggests a cross section of soft behaviors (how your customers influence the buying behavior of others) and competitive behaviors (how much your customer could be worth by earning the share she spends with your competitors) will give you the best indicator.

They make it sound so easy. Where is this magical cross section I wonder? I wish my CRM system had a field inside of it that tracked every time a customer of ours mentioned Four51 glowingly at a cocktail party or wrote about us on a social networking site. While I don’t think it’s easy, I do think it’s attainable. Somewhere at the intersection of purely quantitative and attitudinal information exists the ability of our data to tell us who our best customer truly is.

So I will make the argument (like so many before me have) that it’s not carpet that is king, or cash that is king, or community that is king, but solid business data that is king and will likely reign forever. And if you agree with me, then you’re likely thinking about the obvious follow up question: How can I whip my data into shape? I’m not an expert, but developing and sticking to a clear plan for assessing and scoring data seems like a pretty good start. That, and not being afraid to re-assess and completely change direction. At Four51, we are constantly refining everything we do based on becoming more relevant to our customers and our industry.

Because after all, if you’re not relevant…you’re irrelevant, and that’s no way to be.

Mara

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