Customer Group Identification
Medicare HMO Customer Groups
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WHY IDENTIFY CUSTOMER GROUPS?

There are several reasons to spend a few hours and identify all of your customer groups. Simply, if you don't, you will likely miss some of them when you are ready to gather information, make a key decision, or communicate externally.

WHO'S A CUSTOMER?

Customer or constituent groups include everyone your organization interacts with, from suppliers and media to current buyers of your products or services, as well as the people who visit your web site and those you want to visit it.

From our perspective, everyone on your team has customers, and they need to recognize this reality quickly. Sorry, but those who don't won't be in their jobs much longer - or their employers won't be in business much longer.

DIRECT AND INDIRECT CUSTOMERS

All of us have direct customers, whether they are external (clients) who call for information or help, or internal staff to whom we provide support service. We also have indirect customers, the people and organizations who are affected by our actions and who can affect our organization.

EXTENDED CUSTOMER GROUPS

Know who the decision makers are for every product or service you sell. But also understand who the key influencers are. Then you can determine their motivations, track their trends, and communicate with them. For example:

  • Every drug rep knows that the access to the physician comes through the office manager.
  • Grandparents are a key buying group for children's gifts, but the grandchild defines most of their purchases.
  • Adult females make the health care decisions in most households, even if insurance comes through the male's employer.
  • Seniors may be forced into assisted living, but their adult children are more often the decision makers.

PRESENT, POTENTIAL AND PAST CUSTOMERS

You have three divisions in any customer group (direct or indirect) - present, past and potential.

Your present customers are usually the easiest to communicate with. Hopefully, you have this database and can communicate directly with them. Maintaining high satisfaction levels among current customers is top priority for retention and growth. The real question is if you use them as partners.

Potential customers are important to communicatewwith also. Understanding your existing customers' characteristics lets you target additional potential customers.

Don't forget your past customers. Over 40% of business referrals come from them. And the majority of bad-mouthing comes from a small group of dissatisfied past customers.

  • Do you maintain a mailing list of your past customers?
     
  • Did you know that the majority of regional food bank contributors are past clients, not the more affluent households one might expect?
     
  • We did a study for a YMCA which was having trouble at one of its branches. Its membership had decreased from 4,500 to 2,500. Part of the research involved a statistically valid community telephone survey. One thing we discovered was that 25,000 people in the immediate community had at one time belonged to this branch. The organization did not know they existed or who they were, had no contact with them, and had not investigated over the years to find out why members left. A relatively massive market was ignored.

DEVELOP YOUR CUSTOMER GROUP CHART

The steps are simple:

  • Look at the models we provide and determine which of the identified groups also represent your customers.
  • Add any groups that are missing.
  • Prioritize among your customer groups.
  • Have your colleagues completed the same process, and combine the results. If there are conflicts, come to a common understanding.

USE THE CHART AS A TOUCHSTONE

Research Secret: Having all of your customer groups on one page gives you a touchstone, a simple reference chart to share and use. You will refer to it whenever you:
  *  Build your customer databases
  *  Design any customer-related research
  *  Decide and communicate your business plan
  *  Market your organization, its products or services

Now your only challenge will be to use the chart. Reference it whenever you make research, planning or marketing decisions. You'll be glad you did.

CONTACT US to help make your research the key to your company's future.

Copyright VanAmburg Group, Inc.
Updated November 4, 2008
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