Happy #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

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Customer Journey

Keeping your customers makes good business sense.

Your satisfied customers are more likely to recommend you to their friends and colleagues, as well as random strangers. Your satisfied customers are more likely to increase their business with you over time. And it’s cheaper to keep satisfied customers than to go out and get new ones. And how do you satisfy your customers? Get to know them, and what they want, and then – deliver the goods.

To begin at the beginning: On this #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay hashtag holiday, what are you doing to get to know your customers?

Let’s detour for a quick second. What’s a hashtag holiday, you may ask? Me too … I didn’t know that these were now things to be added to the editorial calendar. But they are. Caitlin Dewey, the Washington Post’s digital culture critic, had a great line in a post about the National Best Friends Day hoax holiday last year. She said, “Forget the ‘Hallmark holiday’ – we live in the world of hashtag holidays.” Word.

#GetToKnowYourCustomersDay happens quarterly on the third Thursday of the first month of each quarter: January, April, July and October. If you are wondering what other h#shtag holidays are out there, you can check out this infographic created by the good folks at Sprout Social:

Are you now asking whether you are a terrible marketer for failing to commemorate #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay? It depends.

There can be a number of ways to approach social media holidays. After reviewing many of the tweets using the #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay hashtag, I would say most are failing at actually getting to know their customers.

How do I know this? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Do you, as a customer, really want to:

  1. Take a survey
  2. Like a business’s social media channels
  3. Take a picture of a product and then post it on your social channels
  4. Write a testimonial about a product or service and then post on your social channels
  5. None of the above

I am guessing most of you are like me and would choose Option E, None of the above. It’s not that we don’t want to support our favorite businesses; we just have other … stuff … to do, and plenty of it. The problem with options A through D is they are all self-serving to the business, and your customers are going to see right through them.

Ugh. #HashtagHolidayFail

This highlights a bigger challenge many marketers experience, which is how to help their companies keep and grow their customers after the sales conversion. At Act-On, we call this “expanding your customer relationships” and believe it’s an area perfect for using marketing automation tools that have historically been used on the demand gen side of the business.

Customer marketing pros know keeping a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. If a company can increase its customer retention rates by 5 percent, they will increase their profits by 25 percent to 95 percent. And while that may be a dated statistic from 2000, not much has changed. The 2015 survey by Pacific Crest Securities and OpenView found on average that it costs $1.18 to acquire each dollar of first-year revenue as opposed to only $0.13 to retain (or $0.28 to up-sell) an existing customer.

So how do you do keep your customers? And how do you do it on #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay? Here are my five tips for winning at customer lifetime value (and getting to know your customers better along the way). These are lessons from the School of Hard Knocks, learned from earlier missteps with my past customers and clients.

1. Think Long Term

Many companies are heavily focused on acquisition and being able to show to their investors, the media and who-knows-who-else that they are continuing to grow quarter over quarter, year over year.

But are those new customers renewing when their contracts expire? Are they growing their business with you beyond the special deal you offered to hook them? Investors call this “sloppy growth.”

Yes – you, me and everyone else needs to continue to hustle to bring in more customers. But we should be doing so with the intent that those customers will still be there a year from now, and five years from then. You want to do better than just gain new customers at a rate equal to your churn.

When you have that know-your-customer mentality, it’s much like a relationship with your partner or spouse. You begin to make sure you’re paying attention to them and their needs, and not just your own. It may not hurt a marketer to pick up a relationship book from their neighborhood bookstore, read it, and think about how those lessons can be applied to the relationship between them and their customers.

Being honest. Being transparent. Being an empathetic listener. Being available. All those are human-to-human traits you should be bringing to your relationships with your customers.

2. Listen Before You Speak

First, you need to be listening to your customers the entire year, not just on one hashtag holiday. Are you checking in with them on a regular basis? What type of listening programs do you have in place? Do you have a way for your customer success or service folks to share the customer feedback they receive with marketing, sales, accounting and anyone else who may be touching the customer?

Is your social media team monitoring channels for the good and bad that may be said about you from customers? And do you have a policy – at least guidance – for what to do when they do hear something negative or positive?

If you are jumping into a hashtag holiday, is it on a platform that you have some proficiency on? Are your customers even on that channel? Have they interacted with you in the past on that channel? (It might be embarrassing if you are launching a hashtag holiday campaign and none of your prospects will even hear you.) Have you checked to see what others have done in the past (if this is a holiday that has happened before)? What do your competitors do for this type of event?

And what you’re listening for shouldn’t be solely focused on complaints or praise. By listening and paying attention, you will be able to anticipate an unexpected opportunity. This could be gleaned from customer feedback directly to you about a product or service feature they would like to see, pain they continue to have, or from what your competitor’s customers are saying about their products or services. You might learn about weaknesses they have that give you an edge.

Marketers would benefit by copying the sales mantra to listen, listen, and then listen some more to customers’ problems to better understand how they can help.

3. Help Your Customers Succeed

So you are listening and paying attention to your customers. Are you doing anything about what you are learning? What can you do to be a good, better business partner to your clients? In addition to knowledgeable, proactive, and collaborative support teams, your B2B organization should provide customers a variety of self-service options, such as an online FAQ and knowledge area, or easy-to-digest video tutorials and webinars.

Using our own platform at Act-On, we can see when a customer is using the product or where they may be having some challenges. We can proactively check in, suggest tips, and see what we can do to make sure they are successful using the platform. We can do this via a customer success rep email or phone call, or through our automated programs. 

4. Offer Value

Whether you are sending out a tweet, an email, or an invoice, think about ways you can bring value to your customer. I liked how the Junior Achievement folks in Eastern Iowa approached January’s #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay by sharing a link to 10 tips for getting to know your customer (maybe they’ll share this post in the future?).

I think getting your customers to participate in a survey or focus group would be great intel for you and your company. But what are you going to give your customer in exchange for their time and effort? Domino’s Pizza’s social team asked their audience to share their favorite toppings, and then randomly awarded commenters with a free pizza (I love a simple pepperoni pizza, if you’re listening, @dominos).

If you’re a B2B or spread out geographically, you could offer to make a donation to a local nonprofit in your customer’s name in exchange for their input. This is a great idea because you are creating a vehicle for your customers to help others.

Toms Shoes is a particularly fine example. For each pair of shoes a customer buys, Toms donates a pair to a child in need. They’ve expanded this “One for One” model to eye wear (supporting vision care) and tote bags (supporting cleaner, safer birthing conditions), backpacks (anti-bullying initiates) and coffee (safe water).

Every year they run a “One Day Without Shoes” promotion; post a picture of your bare feet on Instagram, and Tom’s will send one pair of shoes to a kid who needs them.

In 2015, that meant 296,243 pairs of shoes. And a whole lot of good will. (The 2016 One Day #WithoutShoes  is May 10.)

For the purposes of your #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay campaign, you could like, friend, and follow your customers on their social media channels and note the causes close to their hearts. You could then offer to promote to your network the best tweet, video, or post from a customer. You could share a blurb about them. It’s a respectful way to honor them.

5. Be Thankful

When in doubt, just be authentically thankful for their time and their business. Tell them you know that they have many choices for their dollars, and you appreciate their decision to choose you. This works throughout the year, and especially on #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay when a simple tweet can just say thanks.

Get celebrating, spread the love on twitter! [inlinetweet prefix=”Its #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay! Stumped on how to celebrate? Here are a few tips to get you started @ActOnSoftware:” tweeter=”@actonsoftware”][/inlinetweet]

Happy, engaged, and loyal customers lead to a strong business – and more opportunities for growth. Keeping track of customer engagement will set your company up for long-term success. Marketing automation can help you uncover the story of how your customer interacts digitally with your brand, your content, and the people in your company, throughout the entire lifecycle. Download our 8-step guide, “Do You Really Know Your Customers?” to learn the steps needed to build quality, lasting relationships with your customers.