Customer Secrets: Do This NOW to Double your Business…
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a bigger series on supercharging the growth in your business. To start at the beginning click here – Nine Critical Strategies to Grow Your Business in 2020!
In our last article we spent a ton of time going over numbers… What numbers to study and watch… what numbers might lead you astray… and I even gave you examples of the numbers I’m watching for a business I’m involved in. (To read that article click here!)
While watching the numbers is important… It’s hard to squeeze bigger profits from numbers.
Numbers will show you what areas to change and test… and if your changes are good or bad… but you’ll be hard pressed to double your business just looking at numbers.
I believe if you want to double your business this year… you need to pay more attention to your customers.
Yep, it’s that simple.
Just pay more attention to your customers.
Wait, wait, wait… Here’s the problem… paying attention to your customers isn’t easy… it brings up all sorts of questions.
- What do you focus on, and why?
- How do you focus on customers?
- What questions do you ask?
- When do you talk to them… how often?
- What if you have thousands of customers… Who do you talk to?
- What if… gulp… your customers don’t want your attention?
Today, I’m going to jump into each and every one of those topics… and much much more.
However, a warning… I’m only going to focus on the very top of this very big iceberg… I’m only going to focus on a handful of things you can be doing.
You’ll need to decide which ideas to follow – and which not to. You’ll need to decide if there are other ways of reaching out to your customer that are better. You can do it… it’s not hard… you just need to think.
So, let’s jump in…
It’s Time To Show Your Customers Some Love…
I made a huge claim just a few moments ago… I said if you want to double your business, you just need to pay attention to your customers!
Before we go any further, I’m going to prove that to you right now.
Every week I try to talk to a handful of customers… sometimes it’s our VIPs, sometimes it’s old customers who have been with us for years… sometimes it’s brand new signups… and sometimes I talk with customers who are cancelling their service.
Sometimes I spend time talking with prospects who are thinking about signing up!
Crazy right – technically they aren’t even customers.
Why the heck would I spend so much time talking with these customers?
One word: KNOWLEDGE
Every time I get on the phone and speak with a customer, I learn something new. Sometimes I share great ideas, others I just educate, sometimes I’m solving problems…
But the knowledge I gain is HUGE.
So how does this “DOUBLE MY BUSINESS”???
Here’s some real world examples…
One customer I spoke with expressed frustration at how the system worked… they were about to cancel their service. I showed them a cool feature that did what they wanted in half the steps… and we made a customer happy – and kept them from cancelling.
We also quickly shot a How to video – to educate other customers who might have the same problem!
How much revenue was saved with that move?
Another day, I spoke with a prospect who had some really complex questions about our technology. They wanted to use our texting service to drive customers back to their website… I jumped on the phone and we figured out how to accomplish their needs.
They’re now a VIP level customer and spending thousands a month with us… all from a phone call.
What’s that worth to a business… an hour long call results in a high value customer…
I’d do those calls all day.
I’ve done calls where clients have pointed out bugs in the system… We quickly got those fixed.
I’ve been on calls where clients have requested new features… and when it made sense, we quickly built those out.
On some of our customer calls, we end up getting testimonials, case studies, or ideas for blog content!
All of these interactions can help build your business… make your products better… and uncover great marketing ideas.
But the biggest benefit of jumping on calls with clients… the best way to increase your business… it’s the referrals.
I can’t even count how many times I jumped on a call with a customer… and a few days later I discovered they referred us to a client.
What’s the ROI on that phone call?
Here’s the funny thing… sometimes referrals become a daisy chain effect.
I did an onboarding call with a client and he casually mentioned if the system worked, his business partner might be interested too. A week later, his business partner signed up and started using the system… two weeks later the business partner referred us to a friend of his, who eventually referred us another friend!
It was incredible… One client led to three more… 2 of those customers ended up purchasing our premium package!
That’s how you can DOUBLE your business.
Alright, enough bragging about our great customer calls… Honestly, there’s actually more to it than that.
Let’s start at the beginning.
How to Develop Great Customer Relationships.
Unfortunately great customer relationships don’t happen overnight… and they’re not based on any ONE thing.
There is no magic word, or email, or gift you can use to connect with a customer… It’s the entire experience combined.
It starts with your advertising and marketing.
How is that possible?
Think about your personal experiences… Have you ever joined an email list for information, then suddenly received 20 email messages in a row… or worse phone calls?
A few years ago I made the mistake of signing up to get information about solar power for my home.
I filled out a few online forms, and I got some great information.
We were remodeling the house, so it was the perfect time to look into Solar.
BIG MISTAKE on my part.
The phone calls and emails started… I quickly opted out of the emails… but I kept getting phone call after phone call. In the span of 2 years I got dozens and dozens and dozens of calls.
Every time it was a different company. Every time I asked them to put me on their do not contact list… but the calls continued.
Clearly, the companies I signed up with were selling my data, over and over again… and worse still the companies buying my phone number didn’t care.
If you can believe it – 40 months later – I’m STILL getting these phone calls. (And the remodel is long over with!)
Do you think I’ll ever have a good relationship with a solar company? Of course not.
The deck is stacked against them, and I’ve never even bought their product.
So, start with your marketing.
If you’re selling a physical product, make sure you live up to your hype! Don’t over promise, or make crazy claims to get the sale.
I’m a believer in educating your prospects… send them information or news… or something useful.
Also send it in ways that can be consumed easily. Remember everyone is different. use a combination of email, phone calls, direct mail, video, and even text messages. (Remember Betwext.com is the best Text Marketing system out there!)
But be respectful of your prospects and customers. Give them information they need, and important reminders, but leave the “Sleazy Car Salesmanship” tactics behind you.
There is one thing that you can do right now, and it will improve your relationship with your prospects… CLEAN YOUR LIST.
At the publishing company we clean the marketing list every 90 days. If someone hasn’t opened an email, or engaged with our content in some way, we put them through a re-engagement sequence.
The re-engagement sequence offers them more information, reports, and special offers. If they don’t engage at that point, we stop emailing them regular content.
I don’t want to pester people… and neither should you.
Focus your efforts on prospects who want to hear from you!
Here’s a takeaway tip… Some customers take longer than others to buy.
Thanks Captain Obvious!
Here’s what I mean, You might have one group that picks up the credit card and buys just moments after finding your business.
Some businesses who sell high ticket products might need to design weeks or months of follow-up.
When you bought your house, you didn’t just pick the first one you looked at… nope, you spent days and weeks looking at houses, studying neighborhoods, checking out the commute, researching schools for the kids.
You didn’t buy right away, you were in the “education phase”.
No doubt your realtor worked with you and educated you… and that’s why they got the commission check when the deal closed.
So, make sure your marketing efforts match the sales cycle.
Ok, enough about marketing what about…
Getting Case Studies… the Easy Way!
Every business loves testimonials and case studies. Testimonials and case studies are marketing GOLD.
Every business HATES trying to get them.
Here’s two quick tips to make your life easier…
- Ask for testimonials the day someone buys your product, and
- Don’t be afraid to offer compensation for case studies.
Alright, I know that goes counter to everything you’ve ever thought. Maybe your head is exploding right now, just keep reading.
Here’s what I know…
First, people are never more excited about a product than the moment they buy it. Customers are on a buyers high. And you want them to stay in that state as long as possible.
This is the time to strike…
As soon as someone buys your product, ask them for a testimonial… ask them why they bought the product… ask them what it’s going to help them do.
Think about it… in January, thousands of people set a new years resolution to lose weight. Then, they rush out and buy diet books, a treadmill, and those special weight loss supplements.
They expect these products to change their life!
The buyers see themselves getting up every morning for a quick jog on the treadmill. Then they’re going to eat a low carb / low fat / keto / atkins / south beach diet… They imagine showing up for their high school reunion looking skinny and sexy.
They think, “This product is going to help me lose 40 pounds… and change my life.”
Unfortunately, we all know, reality is very different.
Very few people follow through.
If you sell treadmills, you need to get the testimonials while people are still in the BUYING MOOD. Get them to talk about what they want to accomplish… what the product will do for them.
If you wait, the pool of customers who follow-through on the dream will be much, much smaller… and testimonials and case studies will be harder to come by.
Sometimes, you can’t get testimonials right after someone buys… that’s ok.
Build into your sales process regular “Asks” for testimonials and case studies.
Two more quick examples…
At Betwext.com (The best system for text marketing – BTW!) We have an onboarding process.
As soon as a new customer signs up, we walk them through setup, and have customer support reach out and actually TALK to new customers.
They get the basics all set, like lists, and keywords, and auto responders… and make sure their systems settings are optimized.
Guess what we do then… we ask for a testimonial.
The client just had a great experience getting the system set up… and often we get great testimonials at that point.
At the cabinet company, we do things a bit different…
When a new cabinet package is installed, we coordinate with the homeowner to meet us onsite. We do the walk though, showing all the features, opening all the doors and drawers… and really show off their beautiful new cabinet package.
We also send a photographer along…
Very few homeowners object to being photographed in their new beautiful kitchen. And it’s a great time to get testimonials.
We have a series of questions we ask about the process and how the installation went. And those questions elicit a great response.
Right now, we write down their answers and confirm their comments with an email follow-up later. That’s also when we ask for permission to use the comments in our marketing.
In the future I’d love to have the photographer VIDEO the homeowners during the delivery and at the Q&A… it would be a great way to get more testimonials.
What About Case Studies?
Case studies are some of the most powerful proof elements you can use in marketing… they’re also some of the hardest to get.
Here’s how we do it at Betwext.com…
First we screen our list of users. We’re focusing on either high volume, or high frequency super users of the system… OR longevity… someone who is using the system consistently week after week.
We pull a handful of those names, and Tiffany on our customer support team reaches out.
Her email is drop dead simple… this is what we say:
Case Study Email #1
Subject: About your free Betwext texting credits
Hi [Person’s Name]
Can you help us?
We see you’ve been using Betwext.com for your text marketing recently. We’d love to do a quick 15 minute interview with you about the system… what’s good, what’s bad, and where we can improve.
And if you’re willing we’d love to turn this interview into a case study for our blog. We’ll of course provide you with links back to your website, $20 in free texting credit, plus… we’ll do all the work.
Might you have 15 minutes for a quick call Tuesday at 10 am, or might 11 am be better.
See what I mean… Simple.
We’ll send out about a dozen emails like this and get 3 or 4 people who reply that they’re willing to help. Tiffany schedules a time for the call… and then asks a series of simple questions to get the customer talking.
Here’s a sample of some of the questions we ask:
- Tell me about your business?
- How are you using text marketing?
- Have you seen anyone use texting in a creative way?
- What kinds of messages do you send? How frequently?
- How did you find Betwext.com?
- What made you pick Betwext instead of a competitor?
- Have you used other texting services? How do we compare?
- What would you say to another business owner about Text marketing?
- Does it work, and would you recommend texting / Betwext?
- Can we use graphics from your website in the case study?
These questions are designed to get the customer talking about Betwext.com and how the system is used.
We’re looking for honest feedback, and Tiffany takes extensive notes. I suppose we could start recording these phone interviews… but for now, simply taking notes is good enough.
After the call, Tiffany immediately writes up her notes into a blog post. She follows a rough format we’ve developed, so the actual writing process goes fast.
We then forward the post back to our customer asking them for changes, and edits, and for a link to add going to their website. After the draft is approved, we get email verification the case study is ok to use, and we publish it.
We try to do all the work…
Funny thing, often these case studies take months to complete.
Sometimes people miss calls, or it takes them weeks to turn around the draft. One customer took 3 months to send us final verification that everything was approved!
Like anything in life, being persistent is important!
Oh, as you no doubt noticed, we offered $20 in texting credit for every case study we complete… we make sure to disclose that in the case study… and we’ve found some customers jump at the opportunity to make $20 for a 15 minute phone call.
If you can’t offer credit, try something else, a starbucks gift card, maybe a coffee mug, or a sticker. Yes – I once did a customer survey for a sticker…
Ok, now you have a few secrets to get case studies and testimonials.
Let’s jump to the next stage of the customer cycle. If you sell a software product, or something that takes training, or setting up, I highly recommend you…
Design A Customer Onboarding Process
If you sell a physical product, or something that’s consumed, you can skip to the next section… but if you sell software, or any product that has a complex setup process, you need onboarding.
I’ll admit it… I fought onboarding for a long time.
My Initial thought was “Our system is so simple, we don’t need onboarding.”
Yep – I was wrong.
When we looked at the data, when we explored why customers left, we noticed something curious… Some of our customers never got past the setup stage.
They gave us a credit card, but never went any further. Many never sent a single message… cancelling their subscription a short time later.
When you combine that information with our interviews… We discovered something shocking.
NOBODY read our getting started guide.
I was crushed. I’d spent days working on that document. Adding screenshots, descriptions of how to set up the system, things to think about…
Yet, when we interviewed customers… not a single one used the guide. Not new people, not old people, not low volume senders, not high volume senders.
More than half didn’t know the guide existed.
See how tracking the numbers, looking at the data, AND talking to customers gave us the knowledge to change our business?
Anyway, this is when we decided to add an onboarding process. Forget the setup guide… that went in the trash.
Now, we simply work with customers to get the basics of their system set up the right way… then give them a bit of direction, or ideas on how to best start text marketing.
It’s a new process for us, so I don’t have hard data on the direct business impact, but let me tell you, I know from listening to a few calls, our customers are happier than ever before.
One more quick story about onboarding.
I recently bought a new Truck.
I got the Ram 1500, with the V8 engine, the tow package, and I upgraded to the leather interior and the big 12 inch display.
It’s a beautiful truck.
But you know what happened?
I filled out the paperwork, and when that was done, 20 minutes later, a very nice gentleman drove up with my (newly washed) truck. He parked it and handed me the keys.
I was grinning from ear to ear.
He told me to climb in. He then adjusted the seats and the mirrors for me. He showed me how to set the climate control system… 73 degrees please.
Then we went through and set up my radio stations.
10 minutes later he pointed out the gas tank was full and showed me a few of the safety features. He explained all of the alerts, the “Truck monitoring” system for gas mileage, and oil changes…
He showed me how to use the back-up cam, and some tips on using the trailer towing package.
Funny thing, this guy showed me more of the features on the truck than the salesperson did. I had no ideas about a bunch of the stuff I just got!
I was blown away.
On the drive home, I called Linda to share my experience. Of course he’d synced by phone to the truck, so calling her was as simple as hitting a button.
That’s onboarding at it’s best.
How many people did I share this experience with over the next week? Dozens.
Here we are 2 months later, and I’m still smiling over the purchase of that truck. I’ve forgotten more than half of what this guy taught me… but I don’t care, the truck is set up and ready for me to drive, and I didn’t have to struggle with it or think about it!
If you’re not using onboarding in your business… look to add it right now!
Other Reasons To Check in With Customers
I’ve seen the power of the personal touch…
And we’re trying to implement that at Betwext.com. Starting this year, we’re now giving our Customer support team (Jackie & Tiffany) some added responsibility.
- We’re going to do customer outreach on a regular basis.
- We’re going to check in with active clients more frequently, and share tips, tricks and ideas.
- We’re going to educate and inform about new features, and design changes.
- We’re going to share more real world examples with our customers to keep them engaged.
But that’s not all…
We’re going to try and save our customers money.
STOP THE PRESSES!
When was the last time your cable company or phone provider called up and said, “Let me save you some money!”
We’ll It’s something we’re going to start doing this year. You see, for high volume users, upgrading to our premium packages will actually save customers money.
But sometimes our clients don’t realize they’re eligible for the savings.
Now, when we talk to someone about their account, one of our top talking points is to see if we can save them money or improve their service.
Is this an upsell/downsell… sure it is. But it’s always going to be in the best interest of our customer.
Might that cut into our profits – you bet. But I’m hoping the goodwill we build will create better customer relationships, and encourage people to use our service MORE, and longer…
In the long run I think that will make us more money.
I know of one customer retention activity that really caught my eye.
It was by a company called thehoth.com.
A few years ago we used their services for SEO purposes. At the 6 month mark, a Fedex truck showed up with a box… addressed to me.
I started opening it… then I grabbed my camera and took pictures!
It was a swag box full of cool stuff. A stress ball, a pen, some hot sauce, a t-shirt, a coffee mug, a mouse pad.
It looked like thehoth.com had thrown-up all over my desk (In a good way!)
But that wasn’t all..
In the box was a handwritten note from my client advisor… and then a few days later an email and a call.
Note: I’m impressed with their followup!
On the call, the advisor simply expressed his thanks, and asked what else they could help with. Needless to say, I fell for the goods, and eventually spent even more money with them.
Will bribes like this always work?
No – but that time… It did!
Before we move onto the next topic, I want to point out something important. Reaching out and connecting with customers won’t do you any good if you have a crappy product or service.
I’d have never spent more money with theHoth.com if their services didn’t deliver. Customers at Betwext.com won’t upgrade if text marketing isn’t working.
So, don’t use swag and giveaways as a coverup for a problem product or service.
Why else might you reach out to customers…
Celebrate the Holidays with Customer Outreach
I personally think the holidays are a great time to reach out to customers. It’s a season where people share their experiences, their traditions… and your follow-up can be something other than business.
But be careful, you can do damage too with your outreach.
Here’s a story… Every year during the holidays, I get a holiday card from [Name deleted to protect the guilty!].
But he doesn’t sign the card, it’s not personalized, there’s no note or anything in the card. As a matter of fact, the only reason I know it’s from him is because of the return address on the envelope.
This is NOT good customer service.
This is just being lazy at life… it would be better (and cheaper) to send nothing at all.
Look, I don’t need a 40 page mission statement, or the family letter that goes on for 3 pages about the most recent Doctors visit for a bunion… (You all know what I’m talking about)!
Just a simple note that says happy holidays, I’m thinking of you.
I know some of you are sitting back saying, this is crap. You think Christmas cards won’t generate any additional business. Well, you’re wrong and I can prove it.
I was speaking with a salesperson the other day about her marketing and sales efforts. Last Christmas she decided to send out small gifts to her top 40 clients (I think it was a bottle of wine). Nothing crazy expensive, like $15 bucks.
Since there were only 40 people, she emailed and called each of her contacts to connect, and to verify their mailing address. No sense sending a gift to a bad address… right.
Well something strange happened.
A handful of people that were almost impossible to connect with, they responded immediately. And a few others, updated their mailing address, then casually mentioned they were planning on placing an order, but they just dropped the ball on reaching out.
The act of reaching out to verify a mailing address resulted in over $23,000 in sales.
For those of you on the ROI side of analysis… 40 clients at $15 = $600 spent, plus a bit more for shipping. Her product has a profit margin of over 50%… so that’s roughly a 1,916% return.
Not too shabby.
Ok, two more things about connecting with customers and then I’m done…
Customer Exit Interviews…
If you have the ability to speak with customers who are cancelling their service, or returning an item… or simply not ordering your product any more… Don’t miss that chance.
These are very hard customer interviews to do… and you need to remember, you’re not trying to save an order… you just want to know what went wrong.
If you get the opportunity for a call like this, don’t waste it. Make sure you find out why they’re leaving you, where they’re going, and what they’re replacing your product with.
This could be valuable information about your competition and changes in the business landscape.
OK, one last topic about Connecting with customers…
Do Stuff that Doesn’t Scale
I know in the startup world, a lot of business gurus and consultants say you need to reach scale.
If you really want your business to grow, you’ve got to set it up to scale. You’ve got to operate as efficiently at 100 customers as you do 1,000 customers…
I agree 100%… BUT…
But sometimes you’ve got to do things that don’t scale… like customer phone calls.
You can’t possibly speak with every single customer… but if your business is that big, you should try to speak with a sampling of customers.
You should target high value customers and encourage 1 on 1 interaction from everyone on your team… It’s these personal connections, and ideas, and information that will help you grow to become a bigger business that serves more and more customers.
And who knows, some of these ideas might help you double your business.
Oh, I forgot. One last… last… thing.
We use texting to communicate with many of our clients… and we get great responses. If you haven’t tried connecting that way… give it a shot! You’ll be surprised how well texting with customers works.
To go to the next article: Click here