One of the most popular presentations I do (and I’ve done A LOT over the years) is about bringing the voice of the customer (VoC) into your marketing. So it’s safe to say it is 1) important and 2) a lot harder than people think.
Whether I’m teaching about how to understand customer advocacy (customers who are proactively speaking for you), tactics like case studies and testimonials, or even customer references or referrals, the top question I get is, “How do we get our customers to engage with us?”
And the first point I make every time I present on this topic is you won’t have success if you do not have HAPPY customers.
A Real Example of What NOT to DO
Before I share how you can ensure a customer is happy (and vocal), I want to share a recent experience I had when I reached out to a company I do business with.
The company is a consumer goods company whose product I love, but am concerned about the “eco-friendliness” of it. I decided to write the company with packaging suggestions. I stressed how much I loved the product but that, ultimately, I would move to another brand that had taken some big steps to reduce waste.
Below is the response I received to my email. While I didn’t expect them to personally send me feedback on the specific improvement I suggested, I was a little surprised by the wording in their canned response. Although they are “delighted” I’m providing feedback—they aren’t accepting ideas from outside their company. In a confusing twist, they also tell me that consumer comments are helpful and reviewed. In the best-case scenario, their email was contradictory and confusing. In the worst-case scenario, I came away thinking my feedback really isn’t valued at all.
3 Ways to Make Sure Customers are HAPPY
Now that you’ve seen a great example of what not to do, I’d like to share some ideas on what you CAN do to make sure you have happy customers that will say “Yes!” when you ask them to speak out on your behalf.
- Map EVERY customer interaction point and review your messages. Look at the copy in all your auto-responders, nurture touches and other communications. Is the experience a positive one for your customer? Do they send the message that your first priority is your customer satisfaction? Once you have your customer feedback, messages and interactions mapped, make sure you add any new touches and review all your communications at least once a year. Read our blog, A Step-by-Step Guide to Customer Journey Mapping, for help getting started.
- Ask your customers what they think of you. The best way to do this is through questionnaires and surveys—such as a questionnaire after each project (if appropriate) and an annual survey on overall satisfaction. Always provide room for free form comments which is a great way to capture testimonials you can then ask to use in your marketing materials. Read Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions: 5 Sample Templates You Can Use Today for sample survey questions.
- Have a customer engagement plan. This is a mind shift more than anything else, but it can make a big difference as it forces you to go deeper and think more specifically about strategies and tactics you will need to keep your customers engaged, satisfied and happy. Things to consider include:
- How many cases studies, customer stories and videos will you create and who will you target? Although you may add more as you go live with new customers, having a short list of must-do tasks will make sure this important marketing asset is created.
- A calendar of customer touches. These might include touches that are more about nurturing (such as thought leadership pieces), newsletters, special offers, tips and tricks or cross-sell/up-sell touches. Having this laid out will give you a holistic view of your customer communications. (Tip: Create a template, banner or other visual element that connects the various touches so customers know it’s something of value specific to their needs.)
- A plan for thanking and acknowledging customers. How are you going to thank them and what are you offering to show appreciation? This could be as simple as holiday touches (but plan for them now) or more resource-intensive activities like customer appreciation events. Make sure you have a process (and any materials needed) to send thank you notes or gifts when a client DOES step forward to provide a testimonial, story, referral or other support.
You’ve done a great job creating happy customers! The hard part is gathering feedback and encouraging customers to take the next step as an advocate for your company. The Partner Marketing Group specializes in creative, effective ways to put customers at the center of your marketing. Get in touch with our experts and let’s get started.