Everyone wants to grow their business right? It is only natural and the first response to this question is often an investment in sales or marketing to generate net new customers.
But it costs five to twenty-five times more to generate a net new customer than it does to keep an existing one, depending on the industry.
So, to grow, the question should be, how do you create a competitive advantage and hold onto your current customers? The answer isn’t hard to understand, but it is hard to achieve. What many companies need is a repeatable way to build and maintain relationships.
Many companies think they can adopt a tactic like content marketing or social media or buy an ad or list and immediately reverse sluggish sales or lagging market adoption. If you choose those activities don’t expect any meaningful change if you are not at the same time changing the way you deal with your existing customers. Adopting a few new digital tactics for your marketing and sales efforts will not help you match the changes in buyer behavior that are the cause of the problem.
The reason the ‘get more customers’ approach fails more often now than in the past is that it doesn’t address the fundamental problem – buyers and the buying process have changed considerably. It is constantly evolving. So not only must marketing and selling change, but entire organizations must adapt.
The fundamental idea behind being an Inbound Organization is straightforward: everyone in the company must consider how their role influences the customer journey to enhance the customer’s experience. Everyone in the business, not just the marketing and sales teams.
What Inbound Organizations Do
An Inbound Organization understands and thinks about creating a customer experience that covers the entire customer journey from prospect to lead to first purchase through each subsequent interaction.
“Customer experience is the new marketing,” says Brian Solis.
Studies show that this is true, yet few companies apply Inbound marketing ideas to the entire customer journey. Do you create content to attract and connect with people on your blog and then force them to struggle to find information about the product or service after the sale? The same commitment to helping, educating, connecting must remain after the sale. Marketing thinking must apply to the life of the customer journey.
Buyers will pay for a better experience, yet most companies have yet to adjust to this clear expectation.
- 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations
Ok, so you think you do an excellent job with your service and support. I hope you do, but the data shows that most post-sale interactions harm the relationship
- 80% of customers leave a service interaction LESS loyal
Someone told me a funny story recently. My friend had a problem with his bank and called customer service to resolve it. He was on hold for 15 minutes, and when the service rep finally took his call, his response was, “while I was on hold I used my phone to open up new accounts at another bank, goodbye.”
- 91% of unhappy customers don’t complain, they just leave
And customers have never had more choices or more accessible ways to leave than they do now. This applies to B2B as well as to B2C companies. Your future B2B buyers are those millennials tapping away on their mobile phones, and they will be even more inclined to insist on great customer experience than your current customers. People raised on Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will apply those expectations to all their interactions with other businesses.
Differentiation by Customer Experience – How Inbound Organizations Innovate
As Cerasis Marketing Director Adam Robinson told us for our soon to be released book, “Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles”:
“What stood out for us (and still does) is our reputation as the thought leader in our space, our value-added relationships with everyone in our ecosystem, and the superior customer experience we deliver. These are now our competitive advantages.” Adam Robinson
A help everyone attitude, with a people first mindset, enabled by online engagement allows companies to deliver truly outstanding customer experience. Companies create lasting differentiation through marketing innovation and providing an extraordinary experience to their customers. Customer success is driven by the alignment of all customer-facing people with the helping strategy. Everyone must buy in.
And one unpleasant experience for the customer ruins it for the entire organization when people buy your products and services at Internet speed. Create an experience that puts them at the center; self-service is excellent service, let the customer choose the pace and the process. Your job is to give them the right info at the right time and help them manage the convoluted buying journey they are on.
In the past, extraordinary customer experience was only for those that bought luxury items or went only to the best places. People now expect this level of experience from everything. Increased competition makes it easy to change sellers. Technology often provides an easy way to deliver a better solution for an upstart over an established company.
Do you manage your customer’s journey or do you deliver and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring when they need something?
Do you plan every step of the onboarding, installation, or startup process so that new customers are impressed with your expertise and experience at starting new relationships?
Do you track, study, and improve the customer startup process?
Do you measure customer loyalty (this does not mean just sending a survey) but using tools like NPS (Net Promoter Score) to measure, track, and improve?
Do you continue to educate your customers with helpful information on a regular basis?
Do you have an up to date database of all of your existing customers? Don’t laugh, I have clients that have had to go back and rebuild their customer contact lists after ignoring them for years.
Does your marketing and sales team share with your account management team the specific goals, expectations, and the promises made to the customer during the pre-sale process?
Your Biggest Risk
The most significant risk is not the competition or disruption from technology. This biggest risk for most companies is self-inflicted – not taking care of your customers and allowing them to leave. Your job is to make sure each customer is successful with your product or service. It is to make sure they see value from the investment in you they made and that they keep getting more of it.
You may have heard of Inbound Marketing and maybe even Inbound Sales, but to succeed today and beyond, becoming an Inbound Organization will set you apart in the eyes that matter the most, your customers – the ones that already believe in you, love what you are offering, and are begging you to keep helping them for the life of your relationship.
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