Few experiences create a better rush of good feeling than getting a new customer through effort and diligence. When hard work pays off with a sale or a contract, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment!
But making the sale is only the first step in creating a customer for life. Once that sale is made, it’s up to you and your company to nurture your new customer through a positive and successful customer experience.
To build a long-term relationship with your customers and convert them to advocates and evangelists for your products and services, focus on these three stages of your customer experience:
1. Building Awareness
When you have a brand-new customer, it’s up to you to educate that customer on several critical aspects of doing business with you. This is the stage of customer experience where you might need to spend more time with your customer answering questions and ensuring they have all the self-service resources they need.
This is also a stage when you can learn how your customer likes to do business. Some are more autonomous and prefer a light touch, whereas others may need more intense personal focus. What does your customer want, and how can you provide it?
2. Building Loyalty
With customers who have been with you for six months to a year, your focus should be on further retaining and developing your relationship. This doesn’t always mean upselling or adding services but rather creating an ongoing retention strategy that will lead organically to a deeper and more robust connection.
Check-in with your customer often. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Where are they struggling to find solutions within your organization? Are there areas of frustration where they need better support? How can your team adjust to suit their needs?
3. Building Advocacy
Once customers have been with you for a year or more, move into the advocacy stage. Ask for referrals and opportunities with other customers. If your customer isn’t willing to give referrals, ask what’s holding them back. Are there any ways to improve your service that would make them more likely to recommend you to others?
Remember, this is not the stage to slack off in your support or focus on your customers. You can’t just make it to a year of a relationship and then “coast.” Check-in with your customers periodically. Ask your clients what else you can do to improve products and services. Think about the personal side of the relationship as well. When big things happen in your customers’ lives, mention those in a socially appropriate way.
Finally, as you learn about company changes or growth, ask if you can support those events through additional products or services. For instance, if you discover that the company is opening a new location, is there some way you can support or provide for that new endeavor? This kind of attention teaches your customer that you are as interested in their growth and results as they are.
Ultimately, creating a customer for life comes to more than just products, services, and finances. It’s about building a relationship based on understanding your customers’ motivations, emotions, barriers, and activities at each stage of the customer experience. Treating your customers with the same care and consideration you give other meaningful relationships will create strong advocates for your offerings and customers for life.
- Which stage of the customer experience do we do best? How?
- Which stage needs the most work?
- What is one way we can connect better with our customers?