Offer continuing education content and experiences.
What we know about our product and what our customers know about our product are not the same thing.
We may think our product is awesome because we can zoom through work in half the time, or we can do stuff our competitions’ tools could never do. But if our customers don’t know how to use our product like that, they’re out of luck. And eventually, we’ll be out of luck, too (when they leave).
So if you want your customers to stay, and to rock your products as you know they could be doing – please – give them the training to do that.
Don’t charge them for it. Don’t make it hard to access the training. Don’t worry if a competitor might sneak into a webinar once in a while. Give the information freely. Make it easy to understand, easy to apply, easy to access.
Bonus points if you actively reach out to your customers to get their feedback on what training they want you to create next (like via surveys).
And even more bonus points if you offer events and other fun stuff to make the learning even more fun. And easy … did I mention easy?
Make customer service easy.
Here’s a stat that stopped me in my tracks: One third of Americans are so adverse to interacting with customer service that they’d rather clean a toilet bowl instead.
Dunno about you, but I can find a lot of things to do before I get around to cleaning a toilet. I might even fuss with my tax forms first.
So if your customers (even some of them) are that resistant to call a service rep, how likely do you think they are to ask for help?
And if they don’t ask for help, and something’s wrong or not working, how likely do you think they are to look into other options, including your competitors?
The way to fix this is, obviously, to make it much easier for people to get help.
So, offer things like:
- An online help area that’s actually … you know … helpful.
- A chat box, preferably one that’s manned with smart, genuinely accommodating people at hours when your customers will need help. (Try to do better than 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., please).
- A responsive social media/customer service team. More and more customer service is shifting to social media. You gotta be there.
We know all this customer support is expensive. Really good customer service people are treasures, and they need to be paid and rested and given the tools they require to do their work. And that’s just downright pricey.
So while you’re pondering how (or if) to pay for better customer service, consider this: How much more revenue could your company make if you reduced customer churn by even 10%? Or if you could get your existing customers to spend even 10% more with you? Would that fund even part of your customer service investments?
Encourage user-generated content.
We’re calling this “the information age,” but in some ways it’s also the opinion age. Now that everybody can post whatever (almost whatever) they want online, it’s possible for your customers to post things … about you. About your company’s products, services, logo, events, and more.
They can also comment on your blog, or comment about you on third-party sites.
All this content is called “user generated content.” It can be leveraged to create more sales, both from your existing customers and from new ones.
Consider a customer community.
Many companies manage online communities for their customers. This can be as simple as a private Facebook or LinkedIn group, or it could be as elaborate as a fully-staffed community forum on your website.
Some companies hire moderators; some don’t. Some of these communities are consciously created and managed by their focus company; others are created by customers, without company approval.
Some of these types of communities flourish and do great things for customer retention, and for product development, and for the company’s brand. Other communities launch … and then just fizzle.
That’s all a way of saying that online communities are a mixed bag. They’re tricky. And they’re not cheap. But some companies have had huge successes with this expand marketing tactic. Yours might too.
Use your data to build models of at-risk customers.
Marketers put a lot of focus on the buyer’s journey, and that’s good. But what if we put as much focus on saving customer relationships?
We’ve got the data for this already. We just need to build models that can predict when our existing customers are at risk.
It might be smart to build “churn profiles” as well. Not every customer becomes disengaged or leaves for the same reason.
Once you know where the risk points are, it’s time to take action. Test a few different intervention strategies. Would customer training help? Would an in-house visit from your product-optimization team make a difference? What if you just called your at-risk customer and asked them how things are going? It’s surprising how often a relationship can be saved with just a 10-minute phone call.
Use customer scoring to identify who your best customers are.
We all know about lead scoring – it’s a quantitative way to let sales people know which leads they should call first, and a way for marketers to identify which leads need to be warmed up some more before a sales call.
But what about giving that same treatment to your existing customers? After all, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” as the saying goes. So, shouldn’t we all have customer scoring programs?
Conclusion on the Benefits for Expand Marketing
Let’s do a thought experiment.
Consider what would happen if you had to take an “acquisitions fast.” If your company had to shut down customer acquisitions for a period of time. Say a month. Or a year.
For most marketers, just the idea of that is enough to make your blood run cold. And, hey ‒ we get it. That’s why this is just a thought experiment.
But that kind of limitation could be a way to get really creative (and really active) in preserving and growing your existing customer relationships.
So take a deep breath. Get a pad of paper and a good pen. Imagine what you’d do to preserve revenue (and keep all your company staff employed) if you had no other source of revenue than your existing customers.
This may give you the sort of bold vision that could create a serious expand marketing program.
And, fortunately, once the thought experiment is done, you can still go back to doing customer acquisition, too.
Back to you
What is your company doing to expand your relationships with existing customers? Leave a comment and tell us how it’s working.