"Business have forgotten about-or perhaps never fully realized-the power that existing customers and clients can wield," writes Becky Carroll in The Hidden Power of Your Customers: Four Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers. "The allure of new customers has hidden the power of these customers from view." According to Carroll, current customers have three main sources of power: whether to continue to do business with an organization, how much they'll spend with that firm, and whether they'll recommend the company.
Companies can tap into that power to drive growth, Carroll says, by becoming a "Customers Rock!" company. That is, by using Relevant marketing, offering an Orchestrated customer experience, building a Customer-focused culture, and offering Killer customer service.
In this excerpt from The Hidden Power of Your Customers, Carroll outlines the four elements of creating a growth-oriented, customer-centric company.
Build on the "ROCK": The Four Keys to Growth
The principles that make "Customers Rock!" companies successfulare the keys to unlocking the hidden power of your customers. Throughout the chapters that follow, you will be challenged to take a fresh look at your business. Armed with these keys, you will learn how to turn your company into a "Customers Rock!" company, one centered on the customer. You will also learn specific steps to take to grow your business from your existing customer base.
The four keys to unlocking the hidden power of your customers spell out "R-O-C-K" and are as follows:
Key One: R-Relevant Marketing
Marketing the way a customer wants to see it.
Customers are tired of being bombarded with messages. Their expectations are high-even more so for existing customers. In this day and age of rapidly advancing, readily accessible technology, customers assume companies not only know who they are but also remember enough information about them to communicate in a way that is relevant to them-at every interaction.
[You need to] look at your approach to marketing through your customers' eyes:
- Learn about your customers by listening to them.
- Understand the customer life cycle from the customer point of view.
- Utilize marketing channels properly:
--Find out which channels your customers prefer (e.g., e-mail, social media, phone, in-person, snail-mail).
--Create conversational marketing that enhances the customer relationship based on customers' preferences.
- Create relevant marketing content:
- Speak with your customers using their "language."
- Create content they care about.
- Stay top-of-mind with existing customers.
- Make customers feel valued.
Key Two: O-Orchestrated Customer Experience
Seeing things from the customer's perspective.
Each place where the customer and business come together has to add value-for both the customer and the business. For customers, the value needs to be something they appreciate (i.e., they need to get what they want); for the company, it needs to be something that benefits the business (e.g., it needs to grow to succeed). "Customers Rock!" companies create a strategy for providing a consistent, gratifying customer experience across the entire customer life cycle. The only way to construct this kind of seamless experience is to align all parts of the organization around the customer.
[T]hink about your company's customer interactions, andthe steps to create an outstanding experience:
- Set customer expectations.
- Create consistency among touch points (including social media).
- Identify and understand your real competitors.
- Craft the right experience for your customers.
- Reinvent processes and systems you've established for the benefit of customers.
- Fine-tune the experience.
- Establish organizational alignment.
Key Three: C-Customer-Focused Culture
It all starts here.
Customer-focused companies have the desire to fulfill their customers' needs as part of their corporate DNA. Their company cultures bring different business functions together to work toward a common set of goals: (1) strengthen customer loyalty, (2) promote customer evangelism, and (3) increase company revenues. When leaders consistently support these objectives across the organization, everyone wins.
[Create a] culture of customer service andsupport it with the right metrics and employee experience:
- Develop and maintain strong company values.
- Operate according to customer-focused metrics.
- Learn how to take action based on customer data.
- Apply customer focus to social media metrics.
- Put employees first:
--Bring in the right kinds of employees.
--Engage and empower them to make a difference.
Key Four: K-Killer Customer Service
Consistency is the key.
A change in the behavior of today's customers necessitates a change in the way businesses think about customer service. It is no longer simply a cost center; it is now one of the main competitive differentiators for a company.
[T]ake customer service to the next level and support the customer experience with each employee interaction:
- Use social media in customer service-or not.
- Take care of the little things for customers.
- Provide customer service that gets talked about, for the right reasons.
- Recover when things go wrong.
- Follow the golden rule when dealing with customers.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from The Hidden Power of Your Customers: Four Keys to Grow Your Business Through Existing Customers by Becky Carroll. Copyright (c) 2011 by Rebecca Carroll