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09 Jun 2016

SMEs have a golden opportunity to connect with their customers

Robert Janssen Director of Direct Sales Operations at Ricoh SA
Managed Document Services

SMEs have a unique advantage over enterpises

SMEs should treat the personalisation of communications as a huge opportunity rather than focusing on the potential impact of poor communications as a risk to their businesses.

SMEs are known for good customer service. They’re smaller, more agile than enterprises, and the owner can deliver personal service across the business. And part of that is communicating personally with customers.
That’s a big opportunity because research we commissioned shows that six out of ten consumers would no longer support brands if communications from those brands were poor. Two-thirds feel less loyal and would spend less with brands that send them irrelevant information. Nearly one-fifth of consumers said they have actually taken their custom elsewhere after being spammed by irrelevant material from product and service providers.

The opportunity for SMEs lies in

Stitching customer data together

The information smaller businesses hold on their customers and prospects is often scattered across the company, and frequently isn’t stored digitally. As a result, SMEs will likely find it difficult to alert consumers to relevant deals and offers with a high degree of accuracy. SMEs must focus on what information they currently hold to learn more about their customer base. They should prioritise integrating data from silos across the business into a single source to get a complete picture of their customers. It’s easier to achieve that before they grow.

Don’t be afraid to seek outside help

Customers are often bombarded with information because printing and mailing material is rarely co-ordinated. SMEs should engage with an expert consultant to digitise both their customer data and the methods used to collate it. Data, easier to handle in a digital format, can be quickly analysed to effectively tailor communications. In addition, production and posting costs will be kept to a minimum if unnecessary communications are eliminated from the system. Ricoh’s Business Process Services, for example, help streamline operations so they are more efficient and embrace the multi-channel communication formats demanded by customers today.

Seek feedback and tweak

SMEs shouldn’t be afraid to ask their customers to feedback on the communications they receive. Knowing where to make improvements is critical considering 57% of people claim the quality of printed materials they receive directly impacts their perception of a company. Setting up a simple feedback system online, in-store or in-branch, goes a long way to helping customers feel valued and get repeat business.

Nurturing key relationships is critical to business growth and SMEs should trade on what they do best: knowing their customers. Tailored communications will help them stand out from the competition, make a real impact, and take their business to the next level.

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