Whether you work directly with consumers or business to business, it is always important to forge and maintain a healthy relationship with your customers.
Creating these relationships, however, means a lot of communication and, in turn, a huge amount of time and effort. Automated reports can provide customers with a vast amount of information, but they often feel automated, alienating customers further by making you seem unreachable and not very transparent.
As we move more and more into a "social" era- the importance of two way interaction and customized reports becomes more of a deal – maker. Big corporations have attempted to tackle this issue by using reactive and "smart" software from providers such as Ecrion but that's only the basis for dynamic reports. Here are some essential factors to consider when using automated reports to manage customer relationships in the corporate world.
The Purpose of Tracking Information
Any corporation should first assess the underlying reasons for any kind of report. Which metrics matter to your customers and why? Once you have this information you can set up certain goals within reports that will automatically populate, but that are pulling information that's essential to the customer's happiness. Avoid bombarding your customers with data -- if they can't understand it or sift through, there's no point. Track the right metrics and set up alerts when certain numbers fall or rise so that you can react quickly and efficiently. For example, an investment firm may track the performance of all their customers' 401(k)s. If the value in a certain retirement account decreases by a certain amount, an alert will be sent and then individual focus can be placed on that particular customer's account for investment tweaking and recommendations for the future.
Create Appropriate Mailings for Your Customers
Reporting software allows you to automatically send mailings to your customers without having to reenter contact information. However, it's of upmost importance to set up a system that allows customers to check off their preferred method of reception, whether it be email, through collaboration systems such as Basecamp, or actually through snail mail. When a customer sees you are tailoring your communications to them, they are more likely to take the time to read the report and feel you're being attentive. Alternately, if you don't tailor your communications to the client's preferences, you're risking the report never gets read.
Track Important Dates
You don't have to be best friends with your customers, but you should make the effort to know something about them and show that their business is important to you. If you collect just a small amount of information on them, you can reach out at appropriate and important times. Set up alerts in your reporting system for birthdays, anniversaries of business, or important changes within a company.
Disregard the Report Every Once in a While
Finally, the most important piece of advice to bear in mind when dealing with automated reports is that every once in a while, you just have to disregard the report. For some clients, you really need to pick up the phone, whether it be once a month, bimonthly, or consistently. Numbers speak loudly but human interaction with the ability to explain facts and figures will never be matched. Remember to keep a balance so you don't spend all your time on the phone and rather are getting the real work done.
Setting up automated reports allow customers to have access to information without you having to constantly check in. They are able to better understand the information that is presented to them and are not left wondering about the status of their investment with a company. Instead, a report will clearly display important information to them. Show you respect your partners by keeping them in the loop and tailoring reports with information that actually matters.