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Commentary: The Business

Nancy Schuring: Ask, and Keep on Asking



Show your customers how much you care as you build your database.

[dropcap cap=W]ith the high cost of obtaining new customers in today’s media market, a natural place to look for increased sales is your existing customer list. You already have the potential for more profit from these people, so let’s think about how to reach them in new ways.[/dropcap]

First, you need a good customer database containing: Name, spouse’s name, home address, phone numbers, e-mail, birthday (including year to anticipate the “big ones”), anniversary (and year), children’s names.

There was a time when asking customers many questions about their lives might have seemed intrusive and inappropriate. But today, people who deal with stores that provide high-quality service expect to be asked a lot of questions, and they’re willing to answer them if they know there are rewards in the end.

Effective use of information conveys to your customers that you care. You take the time to listen to what they like and be part of their special family events. Many of the small things that make a relationship work are about dates and events. A well-tuned database can help a store remind a husband of an upcoming anniversary, generating gratitude for the reminder and making a sale.

Here are a few basic steps to make it easier to build a database:


[list class=bullet-4][li] Install an effective retail automation system, or learn the features of the one you have. This is too much to do manually. Make one of the key criteria in purchasing a POS system its ability to both collect customer information and make it easily accessible.[/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li] “Pay” your customers for providing you with information. Let them know that by giving you personal data, they’ll gain access to special sales, programs and invitations. [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li] Establish loyalty programs. Follow the lead of high-end department stores. With a good computer system, there’s no reason independent jewelers can’t put together the same program, and have similar relationship-strengthening results.[/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li] Make gathering and using information a condition of employment for sales staff. We used to think a transaction was completed when the money went into the cash register. Now, it shouldn’t be considered finished until information is collected as well. With a good system, it’s possible to keep track of whether or not your salespeople are gathering information. [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li] Integrate wish lists into your system. Every good jewelry store has wish lists. However you collect the information, it should end up in the customer’s data file. This will ensure easy retrieval to generate more sales and to make those wishes come true.[/li][/list]

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is! But the solid foundation this information provides your business means that you can increase sales with your existing clients, and that is certainly worth the effort. is


Nancy Schuring is owner of Devon Fine Jewelry of Wyckoff, NJ. She’s also a co-founder of LetterMatics Inc., new technology for great marketing results.



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