In today’s inbound marketing, content driven, socially connected world organizations have become very, very good at building trust, providing education and moving prospects to the point of buying, but not always as good at transitioning all the warm fuzziness to the actual purchase experience.
I’ve long contended that repeat and referral customers are born during the first transaction.
The simplest of touches can turn an uneventful transaction into an experience worth sharing with friends.
Below are five steps to consider as you build a customer purchase system that will turn the process of buying your products and services into a brand building asset.
1. Remove all friction
Sometimes we make our customers do things that don’t make sense to them because we try to over automate. I’m all for automation, but we need to think in terms on how it impacts the customer experience and not always how it impacts our workflow. Convenience is a tremendous relationship builder and differentiator. Look to add technology that works every time, doesn’t require needless steps and treats a customer, well, like a customer, instead of a robot. Sure, this kind of stuff takes more time and effort, but it takes you competitors more time and effort too!
2. Over orient
Again, one autoresponder acknowledgement message won’t cut it. Create an entire process where you orient your customers on every aspect of your business, their transaction, expectations and next steps. Build a “new customer kit” and make this form of education an integral part of bringing customers on for the long haul.
3. Surprise them
Over deliver and surprise your new customers with something they didn’t expect. People love good surprises and few things get people talking faster than something they didn’t expect. Lots of people get this idea, but also don’t forget your long time customers. Sometimes in the rush to get new customers we forget about the ones that got us here. I remember a few years ago I brought out a new product and offered a special deal in a promotion. I had a few customers that had paid full price prior to the promotion. I went back and offered them the discount and I’ve since lost count of how many customers one of those recipients has referred.
4. Get input
I love that technology can allow us to better understand the interactions we have with our customers, but I really love that by taking the time to get feedback you can avoid disasters and improve places that don’t seem to work. By creating a process that asks customers how likely they are to refer your business you can automatically get referrals and testimonials and you can learn when something went wrong. People often don’t offer feedback unless asked and that includes those that simply go away and tell their friends to stay away. Give them a chance to be heard and fix problems as they occur – it’s amazing how often a detractor can be turned into an advocate when you respond. (Visit this post for some ways to do this.)
5. Show gratitude
My mom taught me this and it’s still great advice! You know you are thankful for the fact that people put down their hard earned money, but sometimes in the rush of business it’s easy to let the acknowledgement slip. Build it into your process. Write handwritten notes every Friday, connect with another local business and send their products as a thank you, pick up the phone and simply call to say thanks. Figure out how to make this a habit, you’ll get as much out of doing this as the person receiving your gratitude.