The goal of a business is to create a customer, but the goal of a healthy, growing business it to create a customer that also creates customers. The way to do this is to make sure you over-deliver and create an experience that exceeds expectations so your customers have little choice but to tell their friends and colleagues.
This type of customer behavior is achieved through the intentional implementation of what I call a Customer Development System. It’s not enough to simply deliver what is promised. A customer development system ensures that you deliver something so extraordinary that you create more than customers -- you create stark raving advocates.
The idea is to create a systematic approach to ensuring a customer is happy, educated, aware and engaged. The good news is that there are tools that can help you automate your system and help supplement the delivery of the necessary development steps with little cost or effort.
The system looks something like this:
1. Assessment – Create tools that allow you to assess the satisfaction of your customers. Tools like Survey.io or something as simple as a phone interview with new customers will help you understand what works and what doesn’t – with an eye of fixing any friction in the sales and conversion process
2. Training – One of the most underutilized customer development tools is the simple email autoresponder. I’m not advocating a robot-like follow-up, but in many cases customer satisfaction can increase dramatically by the deliver of useful information that further educates a customer on tips, tactics, and tools for getting even more from what you’ve sold them. Email campaigns designed for specific customer engagements and products can reinforce personal contact and deliver on demand video and live training opportunities in a very timely fashion.
3. Results Review – Every business should build some sort of review process that ensures a customer is achieving the value promised. So often a product or service is sold and deliver just as expected, but for a variety of reasons, the client does not experience the full value. By creating a routine to check for and communicate the value delivered, you can uncover great success stories, correct underperforming experiences and further develop opportunities for deeper engagement.
4. Relearning – A great benefit of the results review is that it sets the table for continued customer education for cross selling and up selling potential. Often customers don’t realize the comprehensive nature of solutions offered and it is essential to create planned occasions to showcase the full range of ways that your products and services can help. This can be done through email correspondence and formal introductions to strategic partners.
5. Success Study – Once you’ve established a successful client engagement you’ll want to get your customer involved in telling their story. Planned steps to capture their success by way of a document or video testimonial is a great way to further the relationship and create loyalty.
6. Community – At this point in the system you are dealing with customers that are fully engaged. The key here is to bring them together. By taking your most active customers and creating a platform to bring them together to network or share challenges and success, you automatically pull them deeper into the customer development system.
7. Advisory – The final stage of the customer development system is to engage your customers as advisors. Some portion of your customer base should be looked at as form of marketing advisory board and invited to share their opinions on marketing initiatives, content and product or service development. By bringing your customers to this level you develop loyalty that manifests in something like a volunteer sales force.
The key is to look at each of the above steps and ask yourself how you can build tools, actions and processes that intentionally move customers from simply happy to raving advocate.
John Jantsch is a marketing coach, award winning social media publisher, and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.
Image credit: amishsteve