As consumers are inundated with more online marketing than ever, customer trust is—not surprisingly—at an all-time low. How is anyone supposed to tell the difference...
Here you’ve arrived at the final segment in the Customer Trust Circle series. You’ve successfully attracted strangers out of the notoriously deceptive digital marketplace. You’ve fostered prospects and converted them into customers, all the while generating trust in your brand. You’ve worked out some strategies for making and monitoring truly satisfied customers. Now what?
Last segment, we focused on the importance of customer satisfaction and the integral role it plays in creating advocates for your brand. Now, we are going to see the worthy results of investing time and resources into delighting these customers.
You’ve put a lot of work into growing trust and delivering on your promises. The result is that you’re now working with an extremely satisfied customer.
In a traditional format, this would be the end of the rope. With a funnel approach, we think of the satisfied customer as having completed the buyer’s journey and allow them to fall out of the funnel, but in our Customer Trust Circle model, we don’t see it that way.
In the Customer Trust Circle, this is the point where we really see the circular format take action. At this point, you’ve built a solid foundation of trust and gained momentum with your customers. It’s time to use this momentum to help attract more strangers and prospects to your company. By viewing our relationship with customers as circular, we can create strategies for using the trust we’ve built to grow our customer base instead of simply letting them walk away when the initial buyer’s journey is done.
Contrast this to a funnel approach. When we view the sales process as a funnel, we focus on marketing to prospects, closing deals, completing the job, and then we stop. That’s it. Suddenly, we’ve lost most of the momentum and trust we’ve built along the way. In a Customer Trust Circle, we use that momentum and keep right on accelerating.
Skip Being Strangers
Investing your time and resources into satisfying your customers and turning them into advocates for your brand will save you time and resources down the road. After having an exemplary experience, an advocate will gladly tell everyone they know about your company. This means you will get free online and offline marketing simply by delivering on your promises.
When an advocate refers a prospect to your company, you also often have the luxury of skipping the stranger phase. In many cases, the advocate will have already gone through the process of introducing this person to your company and establishing that they are interested in purchasing what you have to sell. This saves you all of those marketing dollars you would have put into attracting a stranger in the first step of the Customer Trust Circle.
Let’s jump back again to our friend, the athlete and let’s say he or she was originally looking for a bicycle. Your marketing department would have expended thousands of dollars on the types of advertisements that initially piqued their interest. Then you would have had to put valuable time into the resources you offered them to build trust and turn them into a prospect.
Now, let’s say the cyclist is so satisfied with their bicycle and the experience engaging with your company that they decide to share your blog posts all over their social media and tell all of their friends about you. Who knows, maybe they even have a dedicated cycling fan page with a significant following to influence.
Suddenly, you are receiving calls for your product without having to expend any of those marketing dollars on trust-building materials and resources. You’re effectively growing your business by delivering on your promises and prioritizing customer satisfaction. Now that’s a return on investment.
Give the Gift of Satisfaction
Creating advocates may require some strategic thinking beyond the basic customer satisfaction programs we explored in the previous segment. To really create brand ambassadors, you will need to integrate more thoughtful programs into your front end.
Continue to focus on providing great customer service, but build on that by creating a loyalty program or surprising your customers with a small gift. Customers love to get rewards. Something as small as a coupon or as large as a points program will keep your customers choosing you in the long-term.
You should also keep customers in the loop by letting them know about any new products and services you’ve released that you think will be relevant and useful to them. This shows that you’re thinking of them and also presents an opportunity to market to someone who’s already expressed interest in working with you.
Ask them for feedback and consider providing a free sample, whether that be a product sample or short trial period for them to test out what you’re offering. This will communicate to an existing customer that you trust them and place enough value on their business to expend some resources on making their buyer’s journey more comfortable than standard.
Once you have a plan in place to keep existing customers coming back for more, create a channel for your existing customers to sing your praises. You want to make it easy for them to bring new customers in. Consider implementing a referral program that incentivizes your customers to speak out about your products and services to their network.
Think carefully about the incentives you want to provide. Do you think cash rewards would be most effective or would your customers be happy with a discount code?
Ideally, your customers will advocate for you without any incentive at all, but a referral program is helpful for those who may not be comfortable sharing more than one or two posts. Providing rewards helps your customers overcome that hurdle very quickly.
Track where your referrals come from so that you can extend a heartfelt “Thank you” each time. You may even take it a step further and provide additional rewards to those sending a high volume of referrals your way.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers directly and ask for a referral. Especially if you’re a smaller business, customers will typically not mind helping out after you’ve provided them with a delightful customer experience. Remember to focus on creating and maintaining an experience that your customer will want to share with friends and clients.
Finally, gather testimonials from your customers. If you receive positive feedback, always request to post the feedback publicly as a testimonial. Make a point of requesting testimonials from key clients when projects wrap up. If you or an employee has gone above and beyond to make a customer happy, ask that customer if they wouldn’t mind writing a short testimonial to relate their experience to others. Again, customers typically won’t mind going that extra mile for you when you’ve made their happiness a priority first.
The Benefits of Being Influential
Advocacy is an incredibly powerful tool that will strengthen your brand and attract more customers. By building advocates, you further strengthen your Customer Trust Circle and solidify the relationship with your existing customers. There’s no better evidence that you offer a great product or service than having your customers speak freely on your behalf!