So often, marketing, customer success and other functions of organizations and businesses are focused on external prospects.
For a company to remain profitable and grow, it must reach new audiences (simple math…right?). So, to accomplish this end, targeting new potential markets and groups, developing and keeping up with the latest marketing trends and identifying those most likely to make it to the end of the sales funnel become critical tasks.
Unfortunately, sometimes this external targeting becomes so important that we — especially those of us in marketing departments — develop tunnel vision.
We forget a basic truth that is of the utmost importance. We forget that developing ongoing relationships that lead to loyal provider-customer relationships and — sometimes — bigger opportunities within existing client-bases, can be just as important, if not more so.
If a customers are satisfied, they’re more likely to expand their reliance on the services your team provides. Satisfied customers aren’t just happy because of the services and/or products you offer. They’re satisfied because they’re part of something that “feels” right…they’re engaged.
With this in mind, I think a great way to focus and move forward as the new year makes its approach is to engage. But, instead of hosting crazy contests and spending major bucks on external marketing tactics and ad campaigns, I’m going to switch the focus to something that might be just as powerful…I’m going to focus inward. I’d encourage you to do the same.
Remember, engaging inward looks different than standard outward engagement tactics. Some differences are slightly more obvious than others.
Check out a few ways to make it happen, below.
1. Focus on Relationships
If a customer is already a customer, he or she is already familiar (mostly) with what you have to offer.
Instead of focusing on outward spends and impressive proposals, make a targeted effort to focus on relationships. To achieve this, consider assigning account managers to each account (if you have yet to do so) and establishing a specific target number of communication touch points each month that are tracked on a shared document.
If a customer feels valued, and like he or she has a relationship with your team, he or she is more likely to continue the relationship.
2. Open Up Lines of Communication
Sometimes a customer doesn’t know what his or her need is until it’s too late and he or she is already searching for a new solution. If your organization is able to meet this need and the customer is unaware, this is a problem.
When, however, your account manager is available, listening to concerns, watching solutions in action and making him or herself available…the results will probably be different.
Different time zones? Crazy hours? It shouldn’t matter, your account management team should be available and ready to jump in 24/7 (with a little pre-planning, of course).
3. Read Between the Lines: LISTEN
If the two steps above are put into action, the next most important initiative is to LISTEN.
If a customer mentions a long-term (or short-term, for that matter) goal, a frustration, a question or even a situation that he or she has encountered using your product, it might provide an open-door to walk through to provide a different (or upgraded) level of service, or to fix a problem before it becomes a dealbreaker.
Be sure that your sales (or account management team) is truly listening to the needs of their customers. No distractions. No interruptions: simply listen.
4. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Even if a customer has been on board for 10 years, nothing is set in stone, outside of some contractual obligations, of course.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, we tend to get comfortable. When your purpose is to engage and maintain (or grow) existing customers, this is counterproductive.
Comfort and familiarity are great, but, not when they lead to customer neglect. Pretend EVERY account is in the first 90 days indefinitely and your focus might start to change.
5. Highlight, Highlight, Highlight
Sometimes, external and internal engagement work together.
Everyone loves a little recognition. If you make a point to invite customers in to conferences and summits to speak, share updates and case studies online and highlight the way certain projects are moving forward, it’s a win-win for all involved parties.
6. Work Together
Moving forward from number 5, if a specific customer is doing something great, why not find a way to make it mutually beneficial?
Case studies and social shares are great, but, what if you could help each other out from time to time?
Why not host a webinar that you both push externally to share the way your solutions are working to make a difference? A video update? A series of social posts?
Regardless of how you choose to move forward, by working together, you can keep your bond strong while reaching a more external audience.
Your customers are valuable, they’re the life blood of what helps you push forward. Why not give them a little extra attention this year? The benefits might pay off — for both of you — in big ways.
Already using interesting tactics to engage existing customers? Sound off! I would love to help others gather a few ideas!
6 Ways to Engage Your Existing Customers in 2018 was originally published in ZerionCustomerSuccess on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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