Growth is not just about acquisition and sales. Just as important, is to create fans. Learn 3 step formula to build exceptional customer service experience
Original article was posted on Daniel Nilsson's blog here.
You don’t need customers. You need fans and promoters
Gartner claims that the top tool to close deals is customer references. Hubspot has added to their definition of Inbound marketing the importance to convert customers to promoters. I have been involved in building and growing support & marketing teams for over ten years and my experience is that pleased and delighted customers are on your side and create growth. They love to recommend you to others and never hesitates to help you. Convert customers to promoters and fans.
3 steps to convert customers to fans
Step 1 – It’s about trust and relationships
What we need to understand is that humans don’t see your product or company as a …company or product. For humans, it is a relationship. If you want to convert your customers to raging fans you need to treat them like your best friend with respect, trust, and love.
Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and author of two #1 New York Times bestsellers, has done extensive research about vulnerability, courage, shame, and trust. What I find most interesting is her research about trust and what components it’s constructed by.
Your team culture should in its foundation consist of the following of Brenés blocks to build trust;
- Respect – You respect boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.
- Reliability – You do what you say you’ll do. Stay aware of your competencies and limitations, so you don’t overpromise and can deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.
- Accountability – You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
- Vault – You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.
- Integrity – You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.
- Nonjudgement – I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.
- Generosity – You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.
Do you joke about customers over team coffee breaks? Do you openly discuss or say that customers do stupid things? A lot of teams do, and it is NOT respectful, and you don’t build trust. Allowing that type of behavior creates a team that will have it harder to convert customers to fans. Make sure you form a strong foundation of a corporate culture based on the right values. A culture that put the customer at the center of all processes and investments.
Step 2 – Growth = Structure and process
With the perfect team and a value based corporate culture, the next step is to build the structure that will ensure:
- 100 % reply – A customer inquiry is never missed or forgotten
- Any channel – The customer can reach support on any desired channel like social media, email, chat, and phone.
- Any device – The customer can read standard answers to questions on any device
- Success content – The customer can consume material that helps them be more successful with the product or service
My favorite tool for building the structure of support is Zendesk. With the solution, you can create advanced processes for how each support inquiry should be processed. Also, you can build a database of support articles that your customers can reach at any time on any device. Zendesk offers a fantastic set of resources to help you create the structure that you need www.zendesk.com/resources. They are what we all should be. Extremely focused on converting customers to promoting fans. Check out their blog and be inspired by what you should do.
BONUS: What I tell the team
If I managed a new support team, I would tell everyone the following:
We will let the customers decide how they want to contact us
People are different and prefer different ways of communication. Some want to speak with a representative on the phone and others prefer to review forums to get the answers they need. We will always let the customer choose what channel they prefer.
If the customer doesn’t understand what to do, we must take the responsibility
Never blame the customer. If they don’t understand what to do the product is not designed well, or the instructions are inadequate. It is our responsibility to solve these issues, so the customer doesn’t have to experience the pain ever again. I expect you to identify these pains and address them.
Don’t wait! Solve problems as fast as possible.
Solve problems fast and efficient. Don’t wait until later to reply. Customers should always experience an instant reply, if possible.
We will have daily meetings and measure everything
We will have a daily kick of meeting to discuss open cases and issues that create customer pain. We measure everything, and we will ask the customers how well we are supporting them.
Most likely I will say many more things, above is an inspirational selection.
Step 3 – The right focus – Customer Success
With the right team, values, and culture plus the structure and process in place, you can start to elevate your team to a new height. Standard questions are answered within 24 hours, and more advanced problems and technical issues take in average three days or less to solve. Most customers find answers to inquires using the support site, reading well-written articles.
Now you drive your team to start producing content that will help your customers to be more successful. Some examples are:
- How to videos
- How to Blog articles
- Inspiring articles written by experts
- White papers that go deeper into a subject
You need to create all type of content that will increase the benefits customers experience using your solution or service. The more value you deliver, the higher chance you will get a fan.
How to find brilliant ideas for content
2003 I started to work for Mentice, a company designing medical simulation software and hardware for endovascular procedures. My new job was a real challenge for me. First of all, I have never worked in health, secondly the vertical is heavily regulated, and for the third, I did not have a clue what endovascular was.
To tackle the challenge I developed a process for how to learn an entirely new business quickly and understand the subject deeply.
In the process, I was much inspired by professor Clayton Christensen that created an idea that we hire products to do things for us, a Job. His stories of how companies can innovate using the right perspective are captivating, and you can read one of his Harvard Business Review articles by clicking HERE. To explain the theory in short, “Job” is shorthand for what an individual seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance. The question you need to ask yourself is how you can create content that will help the customers to achieve what they are looking for.
Let me give you an example
When I was attending a conference for Mentice a new customer explained to me they were excited to implement the product and the next step for them was to create an educational curriculum. It then hit me that all our customers need to do this and this must be a significant pain since it takes a long time to do. Together with a physician and a graphical designer, I created a whitepaper that explains “How to Design a Curriculum for Healthcare Simulation”.
My objective was to create a product that could be used for all type of simulation training, it should be beautiful, easy to read and I wanted it to be inspiring. The paper was an immediate success with a lot of shares and downloads within the community.
To better understand your customers and get ideas to ask yourself
- What functional jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. perform or complete a specific task, solve a specific problem, …)
- What social jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. trying to look good, gain power or status, …)
- What emotional jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. esthetics, feel good, security, …)
- What basic needs are you helping your customer satisfy? (e.g. communication, sex, …)
Well, this was a trick. You should not ask yourself the above questions. You should ask the customer discovery questions and find out why they hire your products and services. With your new insights, you will be able to create content that will indeed make your customers successful.
Inspiration – Brilliant Content
Check out the following great examples of how other organizations created content to convert their customers to fans and promoters.
- Wistia’s Learning Hub – wistia.com/hub
- Zendesk Resources – www.zendesk.com/resources/
- Hubspot Academy – academy.hubspot.com
- Hubspot Marketing Library – library.hubspot.com
Growth is not just about acquisition and sales. Just as important, if not more important, is to convert customers into fans. The three steps explained above give you the basic set of ideas and a path to move into an elevated state.
To create stellar customer service and growth, you have to set up some parameters about what that means to you and your customer service department. You have to have people that can sympathize with the stories they hear. There also must be a spirit of going above and beyond to create solutions—figuring out what’s going on and figuring out the best way to get it fixed. That time factor is, of course, important, as is some element that no one calling in with a complaint or a return expects.
If you’re stumbling, regularly, there are more means than ever for customers to share their disappointment. And if they share those stories of dissatisfaction, you may find an immediate impact on your growth. In fact, customer satisfaction may have a direct effect on the ability of the economy to rebound as a whole.
You can, however, change the culture of your customer service department by building relationships and taking an active role in how your company approaches taking care of its new and returning clients.
As a final bonus, this graphic walks through the importance of customer service and how to build it, grow it, learn from it, and use it to solidify your future revenue streams.