"Build it and they will come" might work for some companies, but a better motto for most organizations is, "Find out what they need and build it." After all, some of the most successful businesses have been established because someone spotted a need and was able to fill it. Listening (really listening) to your customers is one of the most effective strategies for planning a business.
A successful customer-focused strategy puts the customer firmly in the center of every business decision. People like to feel special and appreciated, so responding to customers in a way that makes them feel important and valued is one way to encourage customer retention. Offering repeat customers a reward for their loyalty is just one of many ways to achieve this. The reward does not have to be huge — a small discount or added value (a small giveaway included with the next order, for example) can work surprisingly well. Following through after a successful sale, and then eliciting some customer feedback, is an important link in the customer retention chain.
Customers are looking to have their needs addressed quickly with as little hassle as possible. Successful marketing strategies ensure that the overriding message is how the company can help the customer a solution quickly and easily, so the order process itself needs to be simple and friendly. Customers expect a quick response time. Today, with many businesses offering 24/7 service, customers increasingly expect that if they submit a request to you at 4:00 AM then they will receive respond from a friendly customer service agent by 6:00 AM the same day.
Customer feedback, both positive and negative, is invaluable to a business, yet a surprising number of companies fail to obtain this. Negative feedback does not have to be a bad thing, particularly if the customer's complaint is dealt with quickly. Customers who have a problem with an order, product, or service, but who receive a fast and friendly solution to their problem are more likely to return than those who have a mediocre experience from the start.
Successful business strategies also require you to direct your marketing efforts where your potential customers are to be found. If your customer data tells you that your highest value customers are career women with little time to shop, then that is the demographic you should actively target. Identify your best customers and your best-selling product and service. Ask yourself what makes a particular product or service so popular; consider this when you develop new products and services.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes; what is their first experience with your business? If your business is online, does your website offer quick, easy solutions to your customer's problems? Is there a clear call to action? If your business is a physical store or office, what do customers see, smell, or hear when they first walk through the door? Grocery stores have been using the smell of fresh-baked bread to lure customers for decades; a spa might have evocative scents and relaxing music; travel agents feature pictures of exotic holiday locations; offices need to have have a welcoming and comfortable reception area where visitors feel comfortable and at ease.
Many successful businesses, large and small, have created effective customer-focused business models using customer information system software. Sending out customer surveys, analyzing feedback, organizing customer information, and email marketing campaigns are some of the advantages that an effective customer information system can provide.