In order to invite your existing customers to offer referrals, you need to be able to prove to them why they should refer you to their friends. For them to refer you to qualified leads, they will have to trust you. But trust will come naturally after you have spent time building a relationship with them through the previous steps of the inbound marketing process, Attract, Convert and Close, and the final step, discussed in this article, Delight.
As a quick review, the Attract technique invites prospects to your website or landing page through the use of inbound techniques such as content marketing. The next phase, Convert, converts prospects to leads through a call-to-action which generates a free content download or another benefit in return for contact information. At the close phase, we are ready to turn the lead into a viable customer who is ready to buy.
Delighting Our Customer
Once we have secured a customer, the process of selling and building trust does not stop. Looking at the whole picture, we would like to not only provide this customer what they need right now, but also help them with further projects in the future. To ensure that we gain their repeat business, and turn them into a loyal customer, we need to delight them during this current job.
What Does "Delighting the Customer" Really Mean?
If you put yourself in the customer's shoes, think about the times you have received products or services from vendors that leave you smiling when you are done. The honest truth is that we do not find ourselves in that position very often. Most companies take us for granted when we buy from them, and we often walk away disappointed or frustrated with their service. With competition so fierce in many industries, it is easy for a customer to find another company that can do the same type of work for the next job. And if they are upset enough, they may even leave a negative business review for your company on social media where their friends and other prospective customers may see it. Delighting the customer changes the focus from getting the sale to building a relationship. Instead of moving on to the next customer as soon as you get the sale, you are ensuring that they are happy with the service or products they receive.
Delighting the customer is even more important in the current environment of fast communications via cell phones, texting and social media. A customer can spread the word extremely fast online. The goal is having them spread "the good word" instead. Happy customers are referral engines!
98% of B2B customers reported sharing a negative customer experience, while 89% shared positive customer experiences with others. (ZenDesk, 2013)
So here's how to do it.
Email and Marketing Automation
Like in the close phase, email and marketing automation can play a large role in staying in contact with existing customers, paying attention to the clues they give us to turn them into loyal, repeat customers. By delighting them, we can turn them into advocates for our brand in person and online.
Marketing automation offers the ability to score our customers, just like scoring leads. Existing customers become leads for new products or upgrades to existing products. Personalizing this process makes it more inviting for the customer to engage with new content from a brand that they are already predisposed to liking. Some examples of how email marketing can be used to delight customers include sending coupons for items that the customer has investigated, letting them know about sales on items related to past purchases and inviting active customers to join a loyalty program.
Fashion e-commerce company ModCloth is brilliant when it comes to delight. Customers can "love" items, which are saved as favorites for future purchases. If that item goes on sale, the customer gets a notification immediately. It's the perfect stimulus to get a customer to act. What's more, the customer is more likely to make a purchase since they've already shown their interest in that item.
Smart CTAs involve the use of personalization in connecting with individual customers. This was mentioned during the marketing automation section; however, the point is that CTA's can be designed to appeal to the specific person targeted by their responses to marketing and sales contacts. The more you can personalize a CTA, the more likely it is that your customer will respond in a positive manner and become engaged in the process. With smart relationship building, you can use what you learn to better appeal to your customers. A smart CTA would be different for each person that lands on that page based on the criteria you input such as demographics or location.
Influence of Social Media
Social media can be both a plus and a minus when it comes to dealing with customers. Because most of our customers are active on some form of social media, we can use social media as a way to reach them, interact with them and delight them. Even B2B companies can get use out of LinkedIn and Twitter to interact with customers. We can keep them engaged with our brand between active sales and answer questions rapidly throughout a job.
On the flip side, social media enables a customer to influence other friends or colleagues if something goes wrong and is not resolved quickly. A good reputation management consultant can take these customers and turn them into your greatest fans through creative social media interactions. A customer that is delighted with their interactions with your brand is more likely to spread the word via social media.
Create a Lead Generation Engine
By taking your customer relationships a step further and focusing on delighting existing customers, you can create a word of mouth marketing engine for your business. Happy customers talk, and there is nothing that speaks louder than a great referral. No matter how much marketing you do, if customers aren't happy, your business won't succeed. So remember to go the extra mile and try out some of these tactics to turn customers into your greatest advocates.