The word is out. “Word of mouth” is king.
Jay Baer, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, and many other top marketing brains are all talking about what your local mom-and-pop hardware store has known for the last fifty years – customer referrals are the best source for leads.
Even though this sounds like old news, it makes sense that businesses are pointing their compasses at customers now. If you look at how marketing has been trending over the last several years, you’ll notice a gradual shift in the way they are trying to attract buyers.
Instead of using their own channels to create and share content, they are trying to get others to do the talking for them.
The rise of influencer marketing has been driven by a growing realization that people just don’t trust brands these days.
Who do they trust?
Each other. More than any other source, people are going to their friends, neighbors, colleagues, and influencers to figure out which way to turn when they need to buy stuff.
It’s time to start paying a lot more attention to the experience (not just service) we offer to customers. Here are ten critical steps that will help you get there.
Buyer persona interviews are the foundation for all of our sales and marketing activities. Without them, you don’t have much of a chance for success.
And the benefits do not end with a sale. A well conducted interview (managed by someone with whom the client has had no previous sales relationship) can uncover several insights that will help you manage the buyer’s journey well past the point where they become a customer.
Think about it. Talking one-on-one with a buyer strictly about her prior experiences can tell you where other vendors have gone wrong with the sales-to-service handoff, communication, and other aspects that led to her searching for a new partner.
Many business people still think of video as an expensive and difficult activity whose only purpose is to tell your brand story.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Video is a great tool for introducing your team, offering tips and recommendations, communicating with customers about your processes. These clips do not have to super slick with Hollywood-grade graphics and animation – they need to be helpful and personalized.
Vidyard is a great app you can use to produce fast, easy clips to communicate with clients. You can record a talking head or screenshare video just for one customer, and paste a gif in an email to grab their attention. Vidyard also integrates with several marketing and CRM platforms, including HubSpot.
Related: What Does Video Marketing Cost?
Of all the steps you can take to improve CX, none is more important than your website.
As Joey Coleman points out, most brands only think of their websites in terms of customer acquisition. But what are they doing to keep customers well informed and happy? What reasons are they giving people to come back to their site?
Self-help resources, industry roundup posts, and trouble ticket functionality are just a few ways you can not only help your existing clients, but also offer prove of the experience your future clients will have as they work through the research and consideration phase of a purchase.
Regardless of the stage of the journey they are in, people want immediate gratification online. If it takes more than two clicks to get people to where they want to go, you have room for improvement.
When a salesperson closes a sale, the whole organization celebrates – and why not? It might’ve taken months or even years to get a signature on that contract – but you can rest assured the client’s feelings of joy and relief will fade much sooner than yours.
Before long, a mix of doubt, anxiety, and even regret set in. This why it’s critical to start the onboarding process before the ink is dry on the contract.
Clients need reassurance the decision they made is a good one. When you give them a guided tour of how the process will work, showing them what to expect and explaining what you need from them to be successful, you will set the tone for the entire working relationship.
Have you ever bought something online and immediately started getting emails showing you how to reap the benefits from your new purchase?
I’ll bet you appreciated it.
Automating certain processes is one of the most productive and efficient ways you can improve CX. For instance, if you need to collect data from your new customer in order to process their order, you can enroll them in an automated workflow that sends them online forms to fill out.
This is where a good marketing and sales platform can make a huge difference in your CX. Some of them will even collect data about how your customers are using the tools, giving you insights about how to improve the process.
Nothing inspires trust and confidence in a new partner like a handy resource center.
Self-help tutorials, blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, and templates are all assets people will find useful whether they are new to your website or have been doing business with you for years.
24/7 service is more than a good idea these days, especially if you are selling SaaS.
Regardless of how comprehensive your educational materials are, we all run into challenges that require direct contact with someone who can help. Fast, efficient customer service is a must, and it’s also a good idea to give people choices about how they get in touch with you, including phone, email, and chat.
From the moment a customer signs up for your product or service, they embark on a brand new experience with your team. What are you doing to make that experience special, like they’ve joined an elite club with outstanding benefits?
By seizing opportunities to celebrate and promote their success, you can build loyalty between your brand and theirs.
If you offer a service with objectives tied to it, scheduling regular mandatory performance review meetings is critical.
It’s easy to start blowing off these appointments when everyone gets busy. Guess what happens then?
Both teams should get together at least once a month to discuss new accomplishments, review progress-to-goal, and go over any changes that need to be made.
Without performance reviews, no one is holding your team accountable to their goals. Regardless of whether you are doing good work or not, your relationship with the customer will suffer and likely come to end.
How are your customer-facing teams using the company CRM to enhance customer relationships?
Most people do little more than log calls, emails, and other touches that provide only superficial insight into the customer’s relationship with you. This is a huge missed opportunity.
With every interaction, your team has the chance to not only learn about changes within your client’s business, but also their personal passions, fears, and aspirations. Take notes about all this stuff, especially upcoming milestones in their life.
Sending a well-timed gift can make a client feel special, while also demonstrating what a great listener you are.
See an article they would be interested in? Forward it to them.
Is an anniversary is coming up? Send a card. Not every interaction with a client needs to be about business, and these small, yet personalized gestures can set you apart from your competitors.
This can be particularly effective during the onboarding phase, where you celebrate the first steps together as business partners. Why not send a personalized (not necessarily expensive) gift that will enhance that moment?
These gestures can come in many forms. Let’s say you are on a call and the client complains about having trouble filling a position on their staff. Sending a good referral is a great way to show you are always thinking about them and looking for ways to solve their problems.
Just make sure you are authentic and thoughtful about it. Don’t over do it, or your will look desperate.
These steps won't necessarily turn your customer into a referral machine for your business -- it takes more get people to want to send business your way -- but they are a foundation from which you can build that relationship.
People are always going to ask each other for referrals. That is a given. The question is who are they going to talk about.
Will it be you?
This post has been updated in 2019.
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