Don’t turn your back on your customers

Do you stop communicating with your customers after they buy your company’s products or services? If so, you’re missing a big opportunity to boost your bottom line by RETAINING them.

When someone buys your products, it doesn’t mean their customer journey has come to an end. It’s actually just beginning. Now’s the time to rethink how to keep existing customers engaged with your brand.

Effective, ongoing communication with current customers increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you again. In some cases, it may increase the frequency and value of their future orders. In either case, it significantly increases their lifetime value – and your long-term profitability.

Here are some powerful ways you can creatively use marketing to do a better job of retaining your most valuable customers:

Don’t leave onboarding to chance: When you first acquire a customer, there’s a lot they need to know: For example, how to use your product or get value from your services, where to go to get their questions answered and how to get customer support. Why not create an email “drip” campaign that educates them about each aspect of doing business with you? By proactively teaching them how to interact with your firm, you’ll make them more comfortable, reduce the number of misunderstandings and save your staff a lot of time. In other words, they won’t need to keep answering the same customer questions, over and over again.

Streamline their access to key tools and resources: Identify the needs of your new customers and then design tools and systems that empower them. For example, you could:

  • Create a private customer portal within your website where they can login to get all of the learning, resources and support they need.
  • Create a mobile app that gives them anytime, anywhere access to these services.
  • Can you enable them to order consumable parts ahead of time, so they can pick them up when and where it’s most convenient for them?
  • Set up an online forum where your customers can congregate to ask questions, get answers, share knowledge and network with each other.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Survey says…: A traditional survey is an ideal way to identify existing problems you need to fix as well as to identify additional needs you can meet.

Education is always a winner: Provide your customers with education about your product itself, as well as how to get the most value out of it. This could take the form of self-service e-courses, webinars, workbooks, manuals and other materials that distill what your customers need to know into a skimmable, actionable format.

Create an exclusive “subscription” for customers: Your customers should perceive that they are being treated special, with exclusive training, content, events, discounts and more. Loyalty programs can also make customers feel like they “belong” and benefit from their relationship with your company.

Don’t forget to personalize your communications: Nothing says you care more than addressing your customer contact by name in printed and electronic communications. Today’s sophisticated email and marketing software makes this easy to do. The best marketers even use deeper customer information to offer highly tailored recommendations to them. Think Amazon.com, with its “people who bought X also bought these related products…” recommendations. It’s as if they know your deepest needs! Familiarity breeds loyalty.

Create a customer content calendar: Don’t leave communication with your existing customers to chance. Build relationships with them by creating a rolling schedule of consistent communications with them. This calendar should include all types of communication, both formal and informal: Letters, phone calls, special events, discounts, special offers and personal notes, for example.

Develop a customer newsletter: Newsletters are excellent tools to help you develop and maintain customer relationships over time. This publication should be different than the one you sent to sales leads and prospects. Its content should be tailored to the needs of your existing customers. Be sure to include it in your content calendar, so you remember to publish it on a regular basis.

Connect your communications to your company’s mission and values: Customers like to feel like they’re part of something bigger. They may jump at the opportunity to be part of your company’s mission and values, if you invite them (think Tom’s Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes each time you buy a pair). If they can feel like they’re part of an active and engaged community that’s focused on your values, they will become more committed to your brand.

You need a customer communications strategy

In the same way that you develop a well thought-out strategy for attracting prospective customers, you need to also take a strategic approach to cultivating relationships with your existing ones. This approach has a number of key benefits:

  • By helping customers feel well cared for, you can reduce or eliminate buyer’s remorse
  • It helps your new customers trust you
  • It gives them confidence to do business with you again.

It’s time to get started. We can help you develop a communications strategy with your current customers. Let’s chat.

Give your customers a big ol’ “bro hug!”

The Bro Hug

When you see an old friend, do you give them a handshake or a ‘bro hug’? Of course, if you’re under 30 years old, you give them a hug to let them know that you’ve missed them and you appreciate them. It’s more intimate than a traditional handshake.

What’s a ‘bro hug’? It’s a visible sign of an ongoing relationship. You give one to a close friend or family member, someone who you know fairly well. It also carries with it the implication that, “I’m on your side. I’ve got your back. You can count on me!”

Have you ever considered giving your customers and prospects a bro hug to show them how much they’re appreciated? I’m not suggesting that you literally hug them, but to do so in the way you communicate with them.

Think about it… many companies still do the functional equivalent of standing on a chair and shouting at their customers and prospects. They make very little attempt to maintain ongoing relationships with them, but instead focus on transactions – closing the sale. In today’s world of empowered customers, that antiquated model of communication is simply too formal and non-personal.

So, what’s a successful way to communicate?

Consistent, ongoing, helpful communication that builds a relationship and establishes trust over time. Content that educates, informs and inspires is an awesome example. This customer-centric style of communication improves the odds that when a prospect is ready to buy, he or she will consider your company first.

To solidify a back and forth dialogue with their valued audience, successful marketers arrange events: open houses, webinars and training sessions, or they use surveys and focus groups.

How can you reach out with both arms and give your target audience a big ‘ol bro hug? Here are several ideas:

  • Ask your audience for feedback regarding their needs on a regular basis. Look for opportunities to have one-on-one conversations and build relationships with them at industry events. Get them involved in contests, crowdsourcing campaigns and surveys.
Here’s a great example of communicating with your audience that John Deere engineered:
At a trade show, the global equipment giant debuted the “Chatterbox,” a portable structure styled to resemble a piece of heavy equipment where customers could “talk back” and really give a piece of their mind to the company. This strategy was wildly successful, and was followed with an extensive marketing campaign that proclaimed, “We listened to you. Here’s what we did with what you told us.”
  • Make it easy for your audience to ask questions. One of our clients has a website with an extensive knowledge center that is highly valued by its customers worldwide. One key to its success: A search form centered at the top of their web page, inviting interaction. Other companies add a live chat feature to their website, enabling potential customers to talk to a human being and get answers to their questions. It’s all about initiating dialogue!
  • Use a conversational style of writing and communication. It’s okay to be a little bit informal and conversational because it makes your audience feel like they’re dealing with real people who care – not a faceless brand.
  • Provide a consistent, ongoing and helpful stream of communication to your audience, focusing on their needs, preferences and aspirations – not on your company’s new product and service enhancements.

If you need help creating this type of customer-centric communication, please contact us. We’d love to chat with you.

(See how that works, bro?)