You’ve just been told that your company has signed its most important client to date. There may be many things running through your head: When do they want to start? Did sales promise them something that’s not possible? How will I handle this on top of everything else?
While you definitely need to dive into the weeds for a successful partnership, I believe you should have one main focus on your mind: How can I make this new customer an advocate of ours?
Customer advocacy is the lifeblood of organizations: it will bring you new business, provide you with honest feedback and advocates will speak on behalf of you to anyone that will listen. Keep this one main goal of creating advocates in your thoughts and heart, and you will have the drive that you need to tackle the biggest challenges that come at you.
A former executive of mine used to say, “You have to assume the following: sales will always oversell and products will always have bugs.” Customer Success teams need to rise above this and provide the best possible experience for your customers that will make them successful and create customers for life.
Here are my top five tips for turning new customers into advocates:
- Be responsive: We’re all busy and we all have competing priorities but you need to be responsive to your customers. If you can’t respond right away, send them a quick note and let them know when you will get back to them. Better yet, look for new ways for them to get their questions answered such as help docs or submitting a question to a community.
- Be accountable: If your product experienced an issue or if you dropped the ball on a follow up item, take accountability for it. On the flip side, you should have processes and systems in place to keep yourself and your clients on track.
- Show value early and to all levels: It’s not enough to just communicate to your customers and ensure that they are using your product. You need to ensure they are getting value. You also need to inform your main point of contact and the customer executive. Don’t assume that your customer communicates internally. Additionally, if the customer isn’t getting value, you need to inform both the main customer contact and the customer executive to explain what steps need to be taken to improve. In addition, you need to show this value early on. Poor onboarding accounted for 23% of churn in a SaaS churn study.
- Always be educating: Don’t assume that your customers are reading all the emails your organization sends them. Think about what your customer’s main objectives and challenges are, and focus on educating your customers on topics that will not only help them use your product more effectively, but will also help their career.
- Recognize their accomplishments: If you see that your customers are doing a great job using your product, make sure that you let them know and also let their managers know. It’s not just a matter of recognition but also assurance that they are on the right track. It’s your job to be their cheerleader. You should also try and help them win an industry award or your company awards if you have them.
Turning these tips into a structured onboarding process can pay big dividends. Not only will customers be more likely to use your product, it can greatly improve the customer experience.
In fact, one of my clients at Influitive, ReadyTalk (now part of PGi) was so pleased with its onboarding experience it sent our team a box of gourmet donuts. The demonstration of appreciation really moved me, and the donuts were quite delicious.
You may have noticed that I intentionally skipped one of the most important elements of turning customers into advocates: being proactive. Why did I do this? Because being proactive is part of each of these tips and is a foundational element for customer success teams.
How will you know when your customer is an advocate? It’s simple! All you need to do is ask them.
You can do this in a number of ways such as a Net Promoter Score survey or inviting them to join an exclusive customer advocate community such as Bomgar’s lnsider community. This part should be easy if you’ve taken the approach of focusing on creating advocates from day one of the customer relationship.
What are you doing to turn customers into advocates?