In the Know: Managing customer information

March 31, 2022 By    

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on best practices for managing customer lists, addressed by marketing and communications director Tammy Day.

QUESTION: What are best practices for managing customer lists?

ANSWER: When managing customer lists, the keys to success are: consistency, vigilance, abundance and accuracy. Customers are the foundation of your business’s success, and it’s imperative you have complete, accurate information on each one.

Consistency: Enter customer information consistently. Educate your employees on what information is needed and why, and how information should be entered. Anyone working within your customer management system must be able to correctly enter information the same way every time.

Vigilance: Your customer list requires constant care, correction and adjustment. Occasionally give a once-over to uncover problems or incorrect information. With warmer weather heading our direction soon, take the time to look at the customer accounts to ensure all details are correct.

To maintain your customer list’s integrity, you should constantly tweak it. Anytime you speak with a customer, ask if there’s any change in their contact information or propane usage. Customers add or remove propane appliances and accessories, members of the household grow up or move on, and renovations and expansions take place – all of these factors directly impact the customer’s account. It is important to document instances like these.

Tammy Day

Abundance: You can never know too much about your customers. Don’t leave it up to chance. Make a list of questions and information you would like to gather about each customer, which could include email addresses, names and ages of family members, pets and pet names, the customer’s wants, landline and cellphone numbers, propane appliances and accessories used at the residence, special instructions on deliveries, needs and requirements related to propane – anything that will help you better know your customer.

Accuracy: Accuracy is the most important aspect of record-keeping and one of the highest forms of respect you can show a customer. How many of us have gotten mail from a company we’ve done business with for years, and still our names are misspelled or addresses incorrect? First train, then constantly remind, employees about the importance of data accuracy. Ask them to slow down and take time to double check each entry. Even tiny spelling errors will cause you to come up empty-handed when performing searches. Ultimately, small errors can lead to duplicate entries because searches came up empty, and the customer is reentered into the system.

Many businesses limit access to their customer database. Different levels of access can be awarded to each employee depending on the requirements of their position. Deciding who manages different processes of the system can cut down on mistakes and accidental changes to records within the system.

Your customers are your company’s lifeblood, and a great customer database is your gold mine. The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to meet their needs. When you know how to meet the needs of your current customers, you’ll be able to market your company and its benefits to potential customers.

Tammy Day is director of marketing and communications at Propane Resources. 

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