Guy dies and goes to limbo. Devil shows up and says, “Hey this is your lucky day! We’re going to let you choose if you want to go to heaven or hell.” First he shows the guy heaven: a bunch of placid folks in white robes floating about. Then he shows him hell: a raucous party in a hip night club. The guy thinks for a minute, and then picks hell. But when he gets there, it’s fire, brimstone, and eternal torment. “What happened to the night club?” he wails to the devil. “Oh that?” says the devil, “That was just the marketing brochure.”
Marketing is all about engaging your customers, showing them you feel their pain, and demonstrating that you know how to relieve it. But what happens after the sale? Not your problem? It is if you want to sell anything else to that customer – or to anyone that customer interacts with. After all, we’ve all heard the saying “a happy customer tells one person, and an unhappy one tells anyone who will listen.”
I am talking specifically about customer service here, and it comes to mind because I have had two fantastic customer service experiences in the last few weeks – both of them from the types of companies from whom I have been trained to expect (and put up with) very bad customer service. Both vendors sell me services for my business. Both blew away my expectations and have me totally in the bag as a customer when it comes time to renew my contracts. Who are they? The first was Verizon Wireless, and the second was Fallon Community Health Plan. That’s right. The phone company and an insurance provider.
Waging a Customer Relationship Marketing Campaign
This brings us to the subject of Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). CRM is a school of marketing founded on the principle that it is easier to sell more stuff to someone who has already purchased from you than it is to go out and get a brand new customer every time. And research has borne out that repeat customers tend to increase the dollar amount of purchases over time, are more likely to buy new products from you with a shorter sales cycle, and will personally recommend you to their colleagues (this is marketing GOLD).
This might seem anathema to marketing professionals. After all, if you stop needing to get new customers, don’t you stop needing marketing? Au contraire. It takes a really savvy marketer to look at the big picture and develop the plans and programs that keep customers satisfied and keep them coming back. And I’m not talking about cardboard punch cards and free lattes here.
A few very effective CRM strategies include:
- Making sure your post-purchase service is on a par with your pre-purchase service (read: GOOD customer service – not punting them off to a heavily-scripted call bank in a third-world country)
- Following up with new customers, making sure they are getting what they expected out of their solution, and helping them if they are not (I actually worked with a small company president who personally called all customers within a week of the sale to make sure they were happy with their purchase- Wow. But a quick email can also be very effective.)
- Keeping in touch with past customers to let them know about new products, training opportunities, or webinars
- Asking customers what you could be doing better and following up on their suggestions
- Providing a forum for customers to interact with your experts and other customers to get help and tips
Have you implemented any CRM programs in your business? If so, how effective have they been? We want to know.