In today’s digital landscape, a major challenge for businesses is standing out in a sea of competition. One key strategy that has proven to be a game-changer is utilising your existing client base to drive organic growth. Cultivating a tribe of raving fans will help promote your business with little to no additional cost. As a serial entrepreneur, small business coach and having worn multiple C-level hats in the corporate world, I have witnessed the power of customer advocacy in driving organic growth and repeat business across all levels. I highly encourage all services businesses to take advantage of its transformative power to generate sustainable long term growth.
So how do we do this?
Let’s explore the high-level aspects of creating exceptional customer experiences to generate promoter clients, transforming promoters into raving fans, and the power of positive online reviews and social proof.
Creating a Memorable Customer Experience
- How can we go beyond the transactional and foster a deep emotional connection?
- What does personalisation and proactive communication really look like?
Exceptional customer experiences not only satisfy customers but also create loyal advocates who champion your brand. Personalisation and proactive communication play a crucial role in leaving a lasting impact on customers. By understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points, businesses can create personalised interactions that go beyond the transactional and foster a genuine emotional connection.
The first step is to plan out the full customer journey. Most businesses believe the customer journey starts when your client first signs the contract to engage you and ends when the invoice is paid. However, from the client viewpoint, it begins on the first marketing touch point (how did they get there, what might they be feeling at this stage, and what would they want at this point?) and ends when they are finally ready to step away from your service or product. For most businesses, this should be never, thus the importance of creating opportunities for repeat business by scheduling routine check-ins.
Once you have built an unforgettable customer journey, we need to identify how the customer feels each step of the way. What do they need and when? Where will the customer likely feel most stressed or more anxious? Where are the pain points? When are the moments that should be celebrated? Plan out your touchpoints, communication, and automations accordingly so you can pre-empt any potential negativity and share in joyful moments.
Let’s look at a property management company for example. A tenant vacating is one of the most stressful periods for a landlord, so during this time, we should be communicating with the client more regularly to show them finding a new tenant is as important to you as it is to them. You can configure automated communications to help (for example automatic notifications on inspection dates, inspection reports, registrations) but make sure you are personally picking up the phone and talking to them as well. Once a tenant has been secured, call your client to celebrate the good news together to highlight the value of your service, something like this shouldn’t just be an automated email.
So how do you create a delighted customer?
By providing an experience that is significantly above the expectation of the customer.
That is why it is so important to set clear expectations on timeframes, frequency of communication, and potential outcomes, then making sure you always deliver. Aim to be known for being reliable and trustworthy.
Let’s go through one more example of personalisation – thanking your clients at completion of the service or transaction. While well intentioned, sending a generic gift hamper or bottle of wine has little value. Understand who they are as a person and what they actually like. For example, if you hear them mention looking forward to a specific movie, you would buy them gold class vouchers to the cinemas. Or if they are big AFL fans, get them tickets to watch their favourite team in a big game. By personalising your ‘thank you’ the chances of being remembered increase exponentially.
Identify how your clients feel about your service
- What is the single best question to ask to identify how your clients really feel about you?
- What is NPS and how is it used?
Once you have built what you think is a bulletproof process to delight your customers, it’s time to identify, empirically, how your clients really feel about your service. Many companies try this through traditional surveying but there is a very specific method, where if done correctly, will increase testimonials and reviews significantly.
Net Promoter Score is a metric that was first developed in 1993 by Fred Reichheld and later adopted in 2003 by Bain & Company to predict customer purchase and referral behaviour. I highly recommend the book this is based on; The Ultimate Question, which is a great read and provides the background on how they came up with this single question, and the psychology behind why it’s so effective:
“On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”
Promoters are the clients that talk positively about you to friends and family. They are the ones that referred those random clients months after you helped them. The goal is to capitalise on the good will you’ve created.
Passives are indifferent. They didn’t dislike your service, but it didn’t blow them away. You can simply design a thank you page with a short message thanking them for their rating after they complete your NPS survey.
Detractors are a risk, something you did went wrong, and they feel negatively about your business. These are the clients that could leave negative online reviews and harm your reputation, so you need to find a way to turn them around. Let them know somebody will call them to discuss their experience and then make sure someone senior in your organisation makes this call. Hopefully this allows you to rebuild the relationship or at the very least gives you feedback on how to improve the service for future clients.
Remember, while it’s beneficial to know how you are performing as a company, how each individual client feels is equally as important.
In fact, venture capitalists note the leading indicator on if a start-up will be successful is a high NPS (net promoter score) – the best measure we have of if a customer is honestly happy with our product or service.
Turning Promoters into Raving Fans:
- What steps can businesses take to turn promoters into enthusiastic raving fans?
- How do we automate this process?
Once you know you have delighted customers, turning them into raving fans to spread the word is vital. You do this by generating positive customer reviews and encouraging referrals. It’s not easy to provide amazing levels of service and it’s likely your competitors have not gone to the lengths we stepped out above. Now that you have built an unforgettable customer experience, it makes sense to turn those happy clients into lead generation machines.
After your client has filled out the survey and been identified as a promoter, it’s time to thank them and turn their positivity into online reviews. Ask those clients for a Google review, with a link to your google listing (or your preferred review platform).
You can take advantage of automating this process by leveraging software. There are many affordable platforms for this so look for the one that works best for you. We use Satismeter, which integrates with most systems and will easily automate NPS surveys and reviews for you.
I have also seen great success in businesses that create client referral programs to encourage happy customers to introduce their friends and family. For example, for a SaaS company, it would be easy to create an affiliate program which provides each client with their own promo code. Once used by a new client to create an account or sign up to your service, your existing happy customer is rewarded with a token of your appreciation for their referral – this can be as simple as one-months free subscription to your product or a $20 voucher.
Harnessing the Power of Raving Fans:
- How can businesses leverage the influence of positive online reviews?
- What role does reputation and trust play in today’s digital landscape?
81% of clients will research your company online before they engage you and if a competitor has more positive customer reviews, you are guaranteed to be leaving business on the table.
Positive online reviews have a significant impact on lead generation and conversions. Customers rely on the experiences and opinions of others when making purchasing decisions. By fostering a tribe of raving fans who actively share their positive experiences through online reviews (and don’t forget the impact of word-of-mouth, especially if you operate in a narrower industry), businesses can build a strong reputation, establish trust, attract leads and easily convert new customers.
So let’s not forget, the journey towards building an army of raving fans and unlocking self-sustaining organic growth begins with creating an exceptional customer experience.
Embrace this approach and take your customer advocacy efforts, and subsequently your business, to new heights.