In business, you’ll inevitably have customers that don’t return or re-sign. Customers who request refunds. Customers who leave less-than-amazing reviews. If you feel like you’re experiencing the latter more often than you’d like, then it’s time to take a hard look at customer retention strategies post-sale.
Because here’s the thing, once a customer has converted into your marketing flywheel, your job has only started. You have to focus on nurturing part of your flywheel to create a fantastic brand experience post-sale that will transform customers into loyal fans. Because without loyal customers spreading the buzz about your brand, it’s extremely difficult to grow.
The point is, the sale is never the endpoint.
A referral or somebody saying, “Hey, you’ve got to do business with this company,” is the best marketing you could ask for. By implementing some of the tips below, you can focus on turning customers into vocal evangelists.
Step #1: Establish a 100-Day Customer Experience
Regardless of your industry, the first 100-days your customers after a sale will impact the entire relationship to come - especially for products that take weeks to ship, or in a service-based industry, where you may sign customers one month, but may not necessarily kick-off for a few weeks.
Your 100-day client experience reassures your customers that they made the right choice. That way, they don’t feel like asking for a refund or feel ripped-off if they don’t hear back from you once they’ve cut a check.
According to Joey Coleman’s “The First 100 Days Starter Kit,” there are eight steps to a 100-day client experience:
- Assess: Align your customer expectations with your business operations.
- Admit: Show your customers you were the right choice by exciting them about their purchase.
- Affirm: Affirm their purchase decision by reinforcing their purchase decision.
- Activate: Deliver on the investment with an “above and beyond” mentality to activate future buys.
- Acclimate: In between sales, introduce company culture and processes to maintain brand novelty.
- Accomplish: Celebrate customer achievements and milestones.
- Adopt: Formalize long-term partnerships with customers that are important and indispensable.
- Advocate: Ask for case studies, feedback, and reviews to strengthen bonds that lead to referrals.
Remember, your 100-day experience will look vastly different if you are selling a product versus a service. If you are selling a product, your 100-day experience may be an automated email campaign that describes how to use your product and builds anticipation and excitement. A 100-day experience for services includes what we call a Kickstarter, which may consist of strategy calls and regular updates to ensure that the client understands that the wheels are in motion.
No matter what you’re offering, first impressions matter most, and the first 100-days is pivotal to building loyal fans. Create a remarkable post-sale experience in the first 100 days, and you’ll see an incredible ROI.
Step #2: Walkthrough Each Customer Individually Every Week
Obviously if your business has thousands of customers, skip this. But if you're a service business, read on.
During every single weekly leadership meeting, share updates on your current customers—good and bad. As a team, briefly review what their experience has been like over the past week and their experience overall. Going through this process ensures you don’t skip a beat and keep your customers top of mind.
It’s easy to focus on the customers that are emailing you with problems but remember to also focus on happy customers. You can continue to delight them while staying motivated to deliver an amazing experience. You’ll also keep your entire team informed and ahead of the game by discussing the things that may need improvement before any major issues arise.
The bottom line is, going through each client weekly allows you to maintain a consistent customer experience while solving gritty issues proactively.
Step #3: Create Regular Touchpoints
Staying in touch with your customers regularly is the foundation for establishing a strong relationship. We recommend you create regular touchpoints post-sale in two different ways:
- Add customers to your email list: Send out regular, relevant content straight to their inbox weekly
- Ask for feedback: Ask your customers for feedback with a survey every quarter
Your touchpoints are essential to keeping you top of mind and helping you create effective marketing strategies, understand your client’s needs, develop new products, and ultimately evolve a customer-centric business. Send them content, follow up with their product or service, and don’t be afraid to ask for comments, reviews, or valuable feedback.
Step #4: Surprise and Delight
We’re wired to gift or surprise customers when they do something for us like resigning their contract or following-through on an upsell. But you want to make sure that your customers know you’re always thinking about them, especially when they are least expecting it.
If you sell a product, surprising and delighting customers can look like a discount or a product in the mail. For client-based services, you can send them a thoughtful, intentional gift since you know your customers so well. It was as if you were sending a gift to your best friend just because you thought of them in the moment, knowing that the gift was perfect for them.
Businesses will spend anywhere from one dollar to thousands of dollars to acquire a new client. But how much are you spending to retain your customers? Allocate a portion of your budget towards surprising and delighting, and you’ll boost customer retention rates and lower the costs of acquisition.
Step #5: Develop a Thoughtful Nurturing Program
A nurturing program offers your customers tools and resources that you might not provide as a service or product, but that you are uniquely qualified to deliver. For example, you can utilize webinars to share information and teach your customers new skills. It’s a strategy we’ve implemented at Ravience, and have seen tremendous success because we’re trusted to share marketing and live chat insights, even if we don’t offer certain aspects as a service.
Yelp uses a unique nurture program where they host a monthly dinner for their top reviewers at an epic restaurant. Their dinners are the ultimate influence because these reviewers take tons of photos, leave great reviews, and share their experiences with their inner circle. Which inspires people to start leaving more reviews on Yelp, so they can get the chance to attend a Yelp dinner for themselves.
Ask yourself what experience or information can you share via free events, webinars, videos, or e-books that will help you build trust and authority with your audience?
Step #6: Ask for Regular Feedback
Asking for regular feedback is critical to creating a phenomenal post-sale experience, yet most businesses don’t do it enough.
Don’t wait for a customer to leave a poor review, opt-out of a new contract to ask what went wrong, or wait until the end of the year to ask what you could’ve done better. Because by the time you’re at this point, you’re too late.
At a minimum, allow your customers to voice their experience with a quarterly survey. If you have a product, then ask for feedback after every purchase. How often you ask, always boils down to your unique offering. But again, try to shoot for a quarterly survey rather than wait for the end of the year.
Even if they don’t respond, you’re proactively looking for ways to improve your business. If your customers decide to give you feedback, look at it as a gift, because you ultimately get a peek inside their brain to figure out ways to optimize your products, campaigns, experiences, and more.
Client feedback is invaluable information and should be treated like gold. There are tons of ways that you can leverage this data to improve your business, ask for Google reviews, and even feature their feedback in a case study for your blog or portfolio.
Related: How Live Chat Can Help You Reach Customers During Social Distancing
Step #7: Track Your Customers' Celebratory Milestones
Small individual gestures go a long way when you are nurturing your customers post-sale. Your customers’ milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, campaigns, or even a successful launch of a new website is incredibly personal. It’s essential to make your customers feel like an extension of your team, and celebrating these important moments with them is incredibly effective at deepening your relationship.
You can send a quick email, or even better, send them a handwritten note saying congratulations. Sometimes people need a little external validation and recognition, and as a business, you’re in a unique position to give it to them.
Double Down on Post-Sale Nurturing Strategies
There’s an art to nurturing your customers, but when you put time, money, and effort into this part of the flywheel, it’s an investment that will bring you incredible ROI.
Don’t think that because your customer converted, that they love you. Instead, see it as a unique opportunity to innovate and nurture to keep the momentum building for your business.
The better your nurturing program and the more nurture oriented your entire team is, the more your customers will become brand ambassadors that are pivotal to helping your business grow.