I have lost count of how many times I was punished in high school for forgetting the meaning of the timestamps BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini). I always wondered why it mattered so much
Covid-19 is another significant event. Life and the way we work has changed dramatically. The future forced itself on us, literally. And while some businesses are going extinct, others are becoming stronger and wealthier.
Some well-capitalized companies poured more budget into Ads and marketing. Other smarter companies focused on their customers, this article is a dive into what the smart companies are doing to get ahead and become more valuable during the pandemic. I’ll attempt to personalize it as much as possible.
Although the COVID situation puts everyone in a similar context of just trying to make it through the pandemic, these companies are not assuming that each customer’s goal is similar to the other. Some people are genuinely trying to survive (and survival is relative) while others are attempting to start over. There is nothing worse than being misunderstood.
There are two important tasks to be noted here; the first task is to understand the customer’s unique needs, goals and job to be done. Once this is clear, then you can begin to tailor your customer success interactions/communication to suit that particular customer’s unique goals!
The next step would be to assign one or two contact persons to interact with the customer each time or use segmented communication if you operate a B2C. Relationships are built on trust, and to get a person to trust you, you would need time and a dose of familiarity that comes with consistent communication. The best companies are taking this rare opportunity to build that relevance and personal connection.
How many times have you read the long leaflets in any drug before actually using the drugs or downloaded an app and have to wait to read a 2-paged document before you can start using the product?
The influx of information that an average person has to wade through has quadrupled during COVID, because, it suddenly feels like everyone has something to say.Whenever you need to speak to your customers, apply the rule of 3. Whatever needs to be done should be done in 3 easy steps. Besides, It is safer to assume that your customers are in a hurry to use your product to get their jobs done. Don’t fall for the Marketers and Developers mindset that people will be impressed by a long list of features or technical specs. We all just want to know how your product will solve our problems. Period!
- Become the King of Onboarding
Use your onboarding process to properly manage your customers’ expectations! This is one the simplest – and yet amazingly effective – things you can do to ensure your customers aren’t just on the path toward success but to know what to expect along the way. By telling them what to expect in the first 30, 60, 90-days as a customer and what the major Success Milestones are along the way are some very simple ways to reduce any anxiety they might have and to help them build trust in you. Sell them on the process to achieve their goals, and make them look forward to it eagerly.
“Pre-COVID” most companies would wait for customers to call in their challenges. But times are fast-changing, your competitors are in their faces now. The timeline between when they are stuck and when they call you are more sensitive than they have ever been – a lot of avoidable negative word of mouth marketing can happen in those few minutes.That’s exactly why proactive outreach is such a valuable customer success tactic.
Ask if they’re having any difficulties. Point out some troubles they might run into and give them advice on how to better use your product before they ever know that the problem exists. But this outreach shouldn’t always be about ‘problems’. It’s about adding value. You should be helping your customers take full advantage of your product, whether they ask for it or not. That means getting in touch with helpful resources, new training/webinars, ideas for expanding their business, and so on.
Customer success is a consultative relationship, not just a troubleshooting one. Proactivity is the way to maximize that sort of relationship. My secret hack here would be to automate your proactivity. Make it personal but automated. Set up analytic tools to help you know when a customer is likely to hit a rock, then create email templates to handle that. You already understand your customers’ desired outcome, create a set of emails with helpful resources that would help them achieve their goals, or create a preplanned schedule to reach out to them via calls!
- Feedback! Feedback!!
This is where the superpowers converge! Traditional wisdom will tell you something in this line: “in the end, your customers will tell you what they need and what’s not working”. But I’ll say, never wait for ‘the end’! To wait till the end is to relinquish control! They may never get to the end, and if they do, they may never talk about it. So, take the game to their court. Ask for feedback at every chance/opportunity you get. Don’t make it too frequent, lest you make them wary.
You can make it a culture to ask for feedback at the end of every transaction, or during a waiting period. The goal of feedback isn’t just to find out what they need, although you can’t underplay that! But it is also to find out how much they love your product/service, so you can leverage that for referrals! When we love a thing, we want to share it with the people we love. The same goes for experiences.
A customer is not successful if they haven’t brought someone else along or told someone else about you! But you can’t wait for that to happen, you have to make it happen and take back the control and leverage the positive feedback to get your next customers in through referrals.
One last thing; your unhappy customers are your greatest sources of learning. When a customer expresses displeasure, USE that! How? First by empathizing with them and then, win them over to your side with open and honest communication, work through their challenges with them.
If you do this right, they would soon become your greatest cheerleader and advocate.