We’ve organised many events since 2015. In all these, we collected thousands of contact details. Ask me to pull out a list of our event participants to date and I’ll go ‘Say what now?’ Currently, we have a total of over 70,000 followers across our social media platforms. Yet, we have very few contact details in our customer database. Can you believe that for over 5 years, I always start a new contact database when I have a new event? I am cringing as I confess these BUT I really don’t want startups to repeat these mistakes. If you are a startup, here are 6 customer database ideas for your small business:

Get contact details and other relevant data

Say you get a new client either in your shop or via Instagram. Find a creative way to get their name and number. Email may also be relevant but if you are in Africa, then WhatsApp number will be even better. I believe we generally communicate faster via WhatsApp here. Also, if you own a boutique for instance, then gender will be relevant. I think for most businesses, knowing the birthday of your client can help you surprise them too.

Keep list in a simple format 

For instance; name, phone number, email, company, location. How you keep it is really dependent on the business you do and the information you need. I find that a simple table in MS Excel for instance works for me.

Keep in an easy-to-find place with backup

It is definitely OK and important to keep the contact details on your phone. Please ensure you store it such that you can easily retrieve it when you need it. For instance, Ama Duncan Shop Client, Kwesi Thompson Shop Client, etc. Also, please ensure you have a backup somewhere in the cloud. Has your phone or laptop ever crushed? Did you lose your contact details? You get my point right? Further, just having it on your phone is not enough. I use Google Sheets because it sits on my Google Drive and is secure.

Follow up

Do a follow up call or message after they’ve left your shop. For instance, you can call to check how they loved the product. This helps you develop a relationship with them as well as keep you top of mind as a service provider. Remember, you are not the only option the client has so you may want to go the extra mile.

Stay in touch

This is your opportunity to further strengthen your new relationship and stay top of mind. You may share regular information such as helpful tips on using the particular product, etc.  Of course, with time you will even share new products, upcoming events, etc. Plus, you get to send warm wishes on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. A few of my clients have WhatsApp groups for their clients, I think that is brilliant. I also have various WhatsApp groups for particular event participants. I was initially hesitant to do this as I thought it would be a huge responsibility. Now I know it is a great way to stay in touch and communicate. 

Create a loyalty program for your regular customers

I call this a bonus tip because loyalty programs will ensure that your clients keep doing business with you. Have you even signed up for a card at a shop so that any time you buy from them, you’ll get a discount? How about the miles you get when you fly most airlines? I remember how a certain local airline used to give an extra ticket free after you flew them 10 times. 

So for your own business, think about which program you can create to keep them coming back. For instance, a salon may decide to do ‘bring your friend and get your nails done for free’. It’s all up to you. Do what you can do at this time and then do more later when you can.

So there, I have shared a few customer database ideas for your small business with you. Which ones have you tried and which ones are you considering. It will be fabulous to read from you in the comments. Until I come your way again next week, remember to keep growing your customer database.

Ama xx

Photo: Vera Obeng Photography

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