In our previous post, we talked about the importance of the Sales Department using a “Sales 2.0” approach – consultative selling – to help nurture leads alongside Marketing’s lead nurturing program.
In this post we’ll talk about “customer nurturing.” Marketing can’t stop after a deal is closed. Now that you have a brand new customer, it’s time for your company to prove itself. This is the critical time when a customer will closely evaluate your company and your offering to confirm he or she made the right choice by purchasing your product or service.
Nowadays, everyone is talking about “delighting” customers. At the risk of being cliché, delighting is exactly what you want to do at every step after the sale is made. It’s the way you’ll grow and sustain a great relationship with your customer, who will in turn evangelize about your service to other potential customers.
Give ’em a great start.
The first step in your Customer Nurturing Program should be to make it as easy as possible for your customers to begin using and benefiting from your offering. The lengths you’ll need to go to ensure this will depend on the complexity of your product or service, but here are the essentials:
- Great Documentation – This should be concise but comprehensive, and simple to understand. Make it easily accessible by PDF or on the web, and make it easily searchable so the user can find needed information right away.
- Training Program – Design a multi-step program that trains the customer on every aspect of using your offering – essentially, a curriculum. Make it interesting, fun, informative and intuitive. This can include face-to-face training, phone calls, webinars and videos. Design it so users can take training modules in sequence or “à-la-carte.”
- Implementation – If your product is more complex, like a robust online software package or on-site equipment, devote staff to helping the customer install and test it. Give customers the assurance that you are at their side at every step to ensure their success.
- Keep it going – some companies offer training and implementation for a limited time, such as “the first 90 days.” Don’t be one of those companies. If you want to frustrate a customer really quickly, tell him/her that it’s “day 91 and you’ll have to start paying for support.” It’s better to just keep providing excellent support (and build this into the overall pricing, rather than “nickel and diming” things like support after the sale).
Do this for your customers, and they’ll rave about your company to their colleagues and counterparts at other companies. You’ll have validated all the great things you promised during the marketing and sales process. Your customers will feel nurtured and your relationship will be off to an awesome start.
Keep the love flowing.
The customer is feeling great about your company. Keep it that way. Here are some simple ways to do it.
- Live Chat – When a customer has a question, he/she wants an answer now. Everyone loves instant gratification. With today’s online live chat capability, it’s easy to help multiple customers at once, right from your corporate website, to provide the answers they need, when they need them. Just do a web search on “live chat” to see a list of providers.
- Pick up the phone – If a customer calls, he/she really needs your help as quickly as possible. Do what you can to always have a knowledgeable staffer available to respond quickly.
- Invest in your customer service people – Employ people who are articulate, passionate about helping others and who can really learn your offering inside and out to be able to provide great answers to customers the first time they call.
It’s far easier to keep customers than win them.
Everything we’ve been talking about in this post is really just basic common sense, and this point is no different. It’s much easier to keep a customer than to win a new one. All it takes is some care, feeding and love. What’s more, happy customers can become some of your best salespeople. Conversely, angry customers will be more than happy to persuade their colleagues NOT to choose your company.
So, if you’re going to spend all the marketing effort to convince prospects why your company and your offerings are great for them, and all the sales effort to make them feel comfortable with choosing your offerings, it only makes sense to commit your resources and your culture to delighting customers on a daily basis. This is also marketing, plain and simple. The bottom line is, nurturing doesn’t stop at the sale. In fact, it should never stop at all.
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.