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Desktop digital club boosts cross-selling

Customer loyalty schemes are nothing new, but West Perth company Desktop Applications has found they still work.

In fact, although Desktop’s scheme is only three months old, it has already helped the company to win a recent tender from Family and Children’s Services.

The Government department chose Desktop to provide about $25,000 worth of computer equipment because, as an existing customer, Family and Children’s Services was able to receive a discount on the costs of installation and training.

That discount made up the difference in costs between Desktop and its competing tenderers, and was enough to win the contract.

As the proverb says, necessity is the mother of invention and, halfway through last year, Desktop’s managing director Martin Healey realised the company needed to improve its cross-selling of products and services.

Mr Healey said although Desktop was a “one-stop shop”, customers were buying a software package (for example) from the company, but would go else-where for technical support or training.

To develop a solution to this problem, Desktop held an employee brainstorming session in August last year, after which it appropriated the concept of the “digital village” for itself and created what it calls Perth’s Virtual Community of Creative Professionals.

When the idea was first presented to customers, they pooh-poohed the idea of paying subscription fees – “Get nicked; we’re not paying to be your customer,” is how Mr Healey described the reaction – so Desktop decided to proceed with a free version.

Since December, Desktop’s digital village has attracted 250 members, mainly professionals in the publishing industry.

The concept has a number of parts: it offers discounts of up to 25% for repeat customers, membership of a virtual club, which offers information sessions and regular e-bulletins, and access to a page of links to the websites of other club members.

Every ten dollars spent at Desktop Applications earns the buyer one “digital dollar”, which can be cashed in for discounts on the next purchase.

“If people buy software from us, they can get a discount on the training course for that software, and if they buy a computer from us they can get a discount on the technical support service, so it works very well,” Mr Healey said.

Mr Healey also said the scheme gave his company, which operates a fixed-price policy, a reply to customers who ring around comparing prices.

Whereas in the past Desktop’s employees had no real reply to customers who said they could buy a product cheaper at a competitor’s shop, Desktop can now point to the potential longer-term value of joining its digital village.

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