Shortly after Christmas I decided it was time for us to trade in our dinosaur of a TV for something a bit more up-to-date. I’d been looking at prices/specs for a while and decided on a whim to go into my local Clive Anthonys when I was driving past one day.
I’d sort of forgotten we’d bought a lot of the whitegoods in our house from there over the years. Anyway I got talking to a helpful (and unpushy) sales guy and we struck a pretty good deal on a smart TV – a better deal than I’d seen anywhere else.
I went to pay and of course they already had my details on their database, and for all I knew had my purchasing history there as well. I left happy with my new TV set.
A few months later and driving past I noticed it had closed down. I remembered how empty the store was when I was there and just put it down to the general retail malaise. Then I happened to speak to the owner of a business close by. He said the store had been the worst performing of the group and the parent company – JB Hi Fi – had decided to close it down. I didn’t think any more of it until I started thinking about what to write about for this article.
And it struck me, that in all the time Clive Anthonys had had me on their database, they hadn’t once been in contact with me, either by mail or email, to try to tempt me back in to the store. The more I think about it the more I think what a terrible waste of a customer database. And it’s not as if I was just a one-off customer – I’d shopped there a few times (even though I only had a hazy recollection and you couldn’t call me a ‘loyal customer’).
I mentioned this to my wife and she said ‘you’re always batting on about businesses not using email enough’. Of course I do – that’s my job. It got me thinking that if a supposedly sophisticated retailer like Clive Anthonys can get it wrong, then how many other retail businesses are making exactly the same mistake?
In my mind, all businesses – including retailers in the current tough trading conditions – should be in contact with all customers at least once a month. It doesn’t even have to be by email – snail mail is just as good, only a bit more expensive.
Special deals can be put together for previous customers, instead of relying on blanket newspaper/TV advertising to bring in new customers all the time (although I couldn’t remember having seen any of this from Clive Anthonys either). Special ‘closed door’ events can be run for existing ‘valued’ customers. The offers and events don’t have to be discount-focused, an extra product or service added as a bonus or special gift can work just as well.
Some large businesses are very good at this – think American Express, Optus, Lexus – they all make very good use of their customer databases. Just don’t use yours like Clive Anthonys used theirs – not at all.
PS Of all the whitegoods warehouses Clive Anthonys are the only one not to have the option to sign up to an email newsletter on their website. Enough said.
David on Google+