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The Patient CRM Strategy

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Posted January 4, 2002 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

Sites that ask for too much personal information at once run the risk of alienating customers, putting e-business in a Catch-22 situation: how do you get the data to better serve your customers if they are unwilling to provide it? Here are some methods for aggregating customer data slowly and effectively.

A customer relationship management (CRM) program must accumulate large amounts of data to be effective but many Internet users are hesitant to provide information online. Sites that ask for too much at once run the risk of alienating customers, putting e-business in a Catch-22 situation: how do you get the data to better serve your customers if they are unwilling to provide it?

Accumulating customer data in stages, rather than asking for all pertinent information in one fell swoop, will eventually pay off for the patient e-tailer. The relationship between the site and the customer builds with every visit, increasing the level of trust and earning you another opportunity to learn more.

Here are some methods for aggregating customer data slowly and effectively:

  • Before asking for any information, assure the visitor that all data is secure and confidential. One of the fears that customers have about disclosing personal data is that the information will wind up in a direct marketing database somewhere. Even though many offline retailers have adopted loyalty programs and swipe cards, online privacy seems to be more of a concern.

  • If your site requires registration from visitors, begin by asking for the basics: name, e-mail address, user ID and password.

  • Online purchases reveal a host of information that can be added to your database, helping you to begin building a customer profile. From this you can start ascertaining buying patterns and preferences.

  • Occasional surveys reveal a goldmine of customer information. Having visitors login before the survey appears will enable you to determine specific answers. Survey questions shouldn't focus on personal data (household income, etc.) but should concentrate on shopping habits and Web usage.

  • Responses to e-marketing campaigns are integral components to building a customer profile. You'll be able to determine which offers and keywords generate positive responses and which are ignored, helping you to formulate more effective future mailings.

  • Coupon and discount codes on direct mail pieces indicate the effectiveness of postcards and letters sent to the home.

  • Feedback forms act as a consumer wish list, letting you know exactly what services are needed and where changes should be made. Have visitors login first or ask for a personal identifier so you can incorporate the feedback information directly to the customer's profile.

  • E-mail communications and phone calls from customers should be logged and the essence of the messages should be added to the database.

With diligence and patience, you'll be able to form a realistic view of each customer, helping you to maximize the relationship and increase satisfaction, as well as sales.

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