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Marketing / Business relationships

Understanding ‘customer evolution’

In the current economic climate, getting customers to support your business is even more important than ever. With customers being more discerning with their dollars, you need to understand customer evolution to ensure they support your business.

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The solution to this problem is moving your customers from prospects to advocates. To do this you need to understand the five stages of customer evolution.

1. Tyre kickers

These customers have seen one of your ads or stumbled into your business as they were passing by. They have come to check you out and can disappear as quickly as they arrive if you don’t engage and look after them.

2. Interested

These customers are interested in seeing you again, it’s like a second date, this could really lead somewhere if you are consistent.

3. Customers

Now we are cooking! These people are in your database and are regular customers. They are starting to bring in real value to your business. It is your chance to find out what they really like and make recommendations to them about other products and services you provide.

4. Friends

These customers enjoy spending time with you and will refer others to your business. Take good care of these customers and find ways to become their best friend.

5. Advocates

These customers are loyal to you, they recommend you to others and would not go anywhere else. Reaching this stage is what we must strive for in customer relationships. The more customers you have who reach this stage, the more successful you become as a business.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business relationships section.

"The key is to identify which of your customers sit at each stage of customer evolution and then develop your communication strategy to build on and improve these customer relationships."

Next, you need to develop a communication strategy to maintain and build on these customer relationships at each stage of the customer evolution.

You must ensure you touch base with your Advocates on a regular basis. Invite them into your business and visit theirs so that you both have a great understanding of each other and can explore the opportunities of working together.

You should be targeting your Friends by developing an understanding of their needs, operations and people. Investigate how you might provide them with a service that is beyond what they get from anyone else.

You should communicate with Customers at least monthly, to remain in the front of their mind. Keep in touch with Interested customers quarterly, that way they know you are around and might have something they want on offer.

The key is to identify which of your customers sit at each stage of customer evolution and then develop your communication strategy to build on and improve these customer relationships. Look to move your customers through the evolutionary stages, one level at a time, by staying in touch, understanding their needs and providing solutions.

What are you doing to move your customers up a level?

Ron McLean

MBA, FAIM, CSP is an international speaker and author, strategist and consultant to leading businesses on Service Excellence, Motivation, Leadership, People and Performance.

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