There are three ways to grow your business:
1. Get more customers
2. Sell more to existing customers
3. Keep customers longer
Focus traditionally has been getting new customers in the door. unfortunately it’s a revolving one. Marketing departments create and fill sales funnels only to lose revenue when customers are filtered out. All this time, money, and energy is focused on acquiring fresh meat and so much is wasted.
When you think of the traditional funnel you imagine the wide brim tapering down to a narrow selection. Well just as you lost new customers through the funnel, up to 30% of existing customers fall through the cracks every year (McKinsey). Surveys show marketers believe foremost in attracting new customers but don’t realize they are spending 6 to 7 times more on acquisition instead of retention (Bain & Company).
Just think how much money you have invested in new customers walking in the front door and straight out the back to your competition. Here you’ve spent your blood, sweat, and tears priming them for purchase only to benefit someone else. After all you’re looking to flourish, not just break even.
They’re either with you OR they’re not.
How important is the customer experience? Consider a few facts:
- 89% of consumers who experience poor service with your brand will leave for the competition*
- 64% of brands received a rating of Ok, Poor, or Very Poor.*
- 63.9% of customers indicated customer service is more important than price.*
- 55% would pay extra to guarantee better service.*
*Source: ClickSoftware infographic
The worst part is you may never know exactly what made them abandon ship. For the few that do complain (a meager 4%) the majority simply leave and never come back. –(1st Financial Training Services) Just because they’re not talking to you however, doesn’t mean they’re not talking. An irritated customer usually spews their angst to all their friends, anywhere between 9 and 15 additional people hearing a one sided account of your companies shortcomings. And let’s be honest, how often are these accounts without a little exaggeration? Then add a game of whisper down the line and the facts are all sorts of distorted. And the really peeved ones…they’ll shout it from the mountains.
It’s not all fun and games
Creating a positive customer experience isn’t easy, nothing tells the story quite like the numbers. I’ll bet you can instantly think of a few times a company left a bad taste in your mouth.
Delivering a positive customer experience has to be everyone’s job. Having continuity across all departments will help identify and correct negative experiences before they become ghastly experiences. Empowering your staff has double advantages it:
- Gives them confidence and allows them to handle the little everyday problems without bogging down management
- Puts out fires quickly before they spread.
Most customers are realistic, they realize things go wrong; however, they expect to have these resolved and quickly. Brands that practice customer experience marketing are constantly vigilant; listening, asking, observing, and seeking feedback.
If the shoe fits
One of the most effective strategies for growing your business is making sure existing customers are using the full range of product and services you offer. All products and services that are relevant that is. You won’t win points by selling a do-hickey to someone who only uses thing-a-ma jigs.
USAA, the financial services company in San Antonio, is a prime example of a company who gets it. Trained staff ask the right questions in order to offer the best fit. Staff suggest products or services based on life style events and relationships resulting in higher customer value and high customer satisfaction ratings.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to kiss all the babies or shake all hands. In fact, research suggests an increase as little as 2% in customer retention equals cutting costs by 10% (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy). And all those loyal buyers can be worth as much as 10 times a single purchase customer (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).
Won’t all that power go to their heads?
In a word….No. Savvy owners understand workers on the front line have unique insights. Companies with high employee engagement scores had twice the customer loyalty (repeat purchases, recommendations to friends) than companies with average employee engagement levels. (Are They Really on the Job?, Pont)
Your shareholders may not understand putting in effort with lower level employees but their accountants sure will. In companies ranked from best to worst in employee engagement shareholders return was a high 24.2% for the engaged all the way down to a negative return for the least engaged. (Source: Employee engagement at double-digit growth companies, Hewitt Research Brief)
Successful companies create cultures; they listen, learn and collaborate. Leaders recognize that engaging the workforce is one of the pillars of success and for customer experience marketing to be effective the whole team has to be on board and on message. Ultimately, employees want to be involved and to have a say.
Whistling all the way to the Bank
People want to do business with people, people they like for that matter. Creating customer value starts with a focus on helping the customer. Focusing on their needs and experiences not on how much you can squeeze out of them.
One best practice is to create a path to purchase map. The last thing customers want is for you to make them think. By focusing on the journey you identify how customers find, buy, use, and hopefully recommend your product or service. This allows you to identify challenges and obstacles that can hijack a sale. How many times have you left a web page because it took too long to load? Or abandoned a shopping cart because it was such a hassle?
Creating brand personas for your top 3-4 audience segments will allow you to develop relevant content for each at various points in the path. Next, plug that content into an editorial calendar to smooth the process of delivery and ensure consistency across various platforms.
Be sure to include content that addresses the full spectrum of the purchase and user experience not just acquisition challenges. Lastly, you may want to consider a gap analysis to find and address cracks customers may slip through.
There are ways to grow your business without doing any more work or investing in new sources for customers. Focusing on your best customers is a smart way to keep them and they just might bring their peers along for the journey.
Have you mapped your purchasing journey?
Do you know who your top 10 customers are? Are they really your best customers?
If you aren’t sure how to answer these questions we should talk. It won’t cost you a dime.