Used to be that we could go out there and hunt down new leads and customers with a measured precision. We found a message that worked, found a medium that reached the right folks, tested, measured, refined and bingo – turn on the tap to growth.
And then a couple of things happened. Our prospects developed tools wise enough to block and ignore messages, social media platforms turned the equation into a dialogue vs. a monologue, and the worst recession in years crippled our prospect’s confidence.
Customer churn, something that might have been acceptable at some point in your trajectory, is devastating in today’s market reality.
Today a lost customer costs in two very significant ways.
First, replacing a customer has become harder to do and, perhaps more importantly, a happy customer is the greatest lead generation tool available. A thrilled customer is the most potent marketing asset your organization can leverage. Smart marketers realize this and explore ways to collaborate, enable and grow with their existing customers as a powerful lead generation channel.
Keeping a customer happy doesn’t stop at delivering on your promise. While not every company even passes that test, there is an expectation that you will deliver. To turn your customers into a collaboration partner you’ve got to up your total customer experience game.
I know everyone talks about that, but what does it really mean in the practical every day world.
It’s more than just creating a fun and exciting experience. I think those are important aspects, but turning your customers into committed partners requires an experience that possess mutually beneficial elements. They must get something in return for their commitment.
Below are some of the elements I think you need to consider in an effort to draw your customers close enough to turn them into committed partners.
Personalize the follow-up
You need to stay top of mind, you need to keep in touch, but that’s a minimum level effort. If you want to stand out you need to personalize your follow-up by connecting with your customers via social networks and exploring ways to tailor your message to their world. You need to ask them frequently about what they need to know, hear, read and consume and find ways to deliver that.
Your marketing and customer service processes must contain a way for you to help your customers realize the impact of working with you. You must gauge this for your own sake and so that you can find and fix occasions when something didn’t work as planned. Imagine how much business leaks from organizations because clients don’t have the time, energy or desire to find out how to get what they thought they were going to get. If you don’t do this step you’re throwing money away.
Every one of our customers has a suite of publishing tools available to them. They can blog about us, create video product demos, review us, and tweet sweet little nothings with very little effort or cost. Oh, and the search engines really kind of love to find all that stuff too.
So, if you want to draw your customers in deeper, get in the publishing game with them. Teach them how to use these tools and then find ways to shoot success stories together, let them guest blog post and respond to comments, show them how to write reviews and find other great resources on review sites. Most importantly, find a way to show them why doing this is good for them.
Pair with peers
One of the greatest gifts you can give your customers is to facilitate their networking efforts. In most cases, some segment of your market consists of customers that are peers in some way – all small business CEOs, all purchasing agents, etc.
What if you found ways to create roundtable discussion communities and brought these peers together to discuss meaningful developments in their industry? What if some of these were customers and some were not? Do you see how you, your customers, and your lead generation efforts could benefit from this?
One the easiest ways to power your thrilled customers is to make your content assets as shareable as possible.
Add sharing plugins, Like and Retweet buttons, and make it very easy to pass your ebooks, slides and email newsletters.
A couple times a year take groups of four or five of your customers to lunch. You don’t have to do much more than bring them together and let them meet. You will be surprised how often they find ways they can help each other.
Once in a while bring as many of your customers together as you can. Acknowledge your referral champions and create a video booth where they can share their testimonials and success stories.