Are You Creating Customers for Life?

Think about the last 12 hours: how many times did you experience the push to buy a product or service? From television commercials, radio ads, newspaper and magazine ads, emails asking you to join their list, to your server at the restaurant trying to up sell you on dessert or that fancy coffee—I’m willing to bet that you’ve encountered a great deal of sales and marketing tactics in the past day. It’s no secret that acquiring customers is critical to the bottom line of organizations and they spend big bucks on customer acquisition. But what about customer success? In the past 12 hours, have any companies reached out to ensure that your use of their product or service has solved your problems?

I’ll bet you’d say no.

In his book, “Never Lose a Customer Again” author Joey Coleman asks a great question:

“How much time, money, and energy do you spend trying to keep your customers?”

In most industries the “stars’ are the salespeople who bring in the business, not the ones who keep clients happy after the sale. And what happens when you don’t take exceptional care of your customers?

They leave.

Some companies talk about customer retention rates (even that term sounds so unwelcome, more like detention). Enter the relatively new term of Customer Success. There was even a Customer Success Summit recently in Toronto.

In the words of Perry Monaco at LinkedIn, Customer Success is:

“Building a long term relationship with your customer and demonstrating ROI in a way that matters to them.”

Long term relationship, in a way that matters to them?

Refreshing.

But before we talk about customer success, let’s look at a few bad experiences I’ve recently had:

When my mortgage was up for renewal, I received a letter from the bank that began, Dear Mortgage Holder…

There was nothing personal in the letter—I mean, come on, there’s software that can generate a first name on correspondence with little more than a click of the mouse—their note said nothing more than “just sign the attached two pages and we’re good to go for another 3 years.”

And guess when the last time the bank reached out to me?

Yep, last time I was up for renewal.

Fifteen years of collecting interest on my mortgage and not one phone call, one thank you note, or one question about if I was satisfied with their service.

And now you can’t even bother to address the letter that will make you lots of money to my name?

So I moved my business elsewhere, and then got my first phone call from the bank.

It was a “why did you leave?” message.

Really?

My mechanic does a better job of thanking me and I only get my oil changes there—they provide free coffee and say thank you after every visit. And their profit is peanuts compared to how much money the bank made from holding my mortgage.

And…

I’ve lived with type one diabetes for over twenty years, and have spent well over $20,000 on blood glucose test strips. I have been loyal to one brand for over 10 years.

The only two times I hear from them are:

1) When they are pushing a new product

2) When there is a recall

Still waiting for the “I know you have options, and living with diabetes is challenging, but we appreciate your business” card or phone call.

Unfortunately, the abuse of customers is quite common, and worst, like me, we often put up with it.

The great news for companies is that the bar is so low; it doesn’t take much to stand out from the crowd and make your customer feel appreciated.

Three things I know for sure:

1) Customers have many choices

2) Treating your customer well, is not only a good thing to do, but is the fastest way to consistent and increasing profits.

3) Very happy customers spread the word and become your free marketing team, and unhappy customers carry a double whammy……they leave and the tell many others why they don’t do business with you.

 

1) Start Well

Out of all the products and services out there, they picked YOU!  That’s amazing.

Make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their support, reassure them that they made a great decision and decide how you are going to start this long term relationship on a high note.

The important thing is to commit to doing something, and the more unique and personal the better.

The Dollar Shave Club does a fantastic job of welcoming new customers.  Right after I signed up, I received a fun email message “Welcome to the Dollar Shave Club – You Will Fit Right In”

It answered all my potential questions, listed the benefits of joining their cool club, thanked me for the purchase and did so in a fun and playful way.

 

2) Focus on Their Needs

See the world through the lens of your customer.  What does a typical day look like to them? What challenges do they face?  How could you make their day a little easier?

Many companies just focus on their own needs.

The two examples that immediately come to mind are Amazon and Netflix.  The “People that read the book/movie you purchased, also liked……”

I know it’s a tactic to sell more, but you know what, it works.  I can’t tell you how many of the books I have purchased that Amazon suggested, and continue to do so.

 

3) Show Appreciation

The number one reason great employees leave their jobs in a lack of appreciation.

Same holds true for customers.  Could you reach out and thank them for being a loyal customer?  The methods of doing this are numerous, but you have to want to do it.

Thank you are two of the sweetest words anyone can hear.  How many companies thank their customers?

From the simple and fun message that WestJet flight attendants say when landing, something to the effect of “You know you have options and thanks for choosing us, makes us feel special”

It would have been nice for the bank manager to pick up the phone ONCE in 15 years to thank me for the interest I send them every month for my mortgage.

Like I said, the bar is pretty low.

We live in a time of sharing, and sometimes over sharing.  And the two types of experiences that people share are: 1) Those that made them feel great and 2) Those that made them angry.

So my question to you is, what are you doing today to make your customer experience so good that they can’t help but share it?