27 Jun How to Create Lifelong Customers
Establishing lifelong customers is the goal of every company – it creates relatively predictable and reliable sales, generates deeper relationships that provide more insights for product development, and even helps to develop and maintain a more loyal and committed workforce. However, getting customers to that stage of a relationship is typically a long-term effort, built on delivering compelling, fair, and straightforward experiences on a consistent basis – from beginning to end.
First impressions matter, and the greatest opportunity you have to impress a customer and earn their support is during their very first interaction with you. A simple, memorable onboarding process sets a strong foundation for building loyalty and retention over time, with the continuation of consistently high-quality experiences.
Of course, no onboarding process is the same – nor should they be. Every company has unique processes related to their sales and offerings, not to mention different operating and customer interaction models, all of which impact onboarding. That said, customers generally aren’t interested in these behind-the-scenes details. They want a straightforward and transparent process that works, so that they can get on with their lives.
So, how can your company deliver an onboarding experience that “wows” customers and sets the stage for a lifelong relationship? It starts with empathy:
1. Talk with your customers.
If you’re looking to develop more meaningful and long-lasting relationships with your customers, you need to meet them where they are. By actively engaging with your customers, you’ll gain insight into how they interact with your business and/or products and services and the impact of those experiences. Surveys can sometimes be useful to glean this information, but they do not drive a true understanding of your customers or build the more personal connections you want to make. Talk to them directly to get their feedback because there is so much to learn and gain from your customer’s journey.
2. Understand your employees’ experiences.
Employee satisfaction has a direct impact on an individual’s ability to do their job well – if they are unhappy, that attitude can permeate all aspects of their job, including how they interact with customers. Just like with your customers, talk to your employees and try to understand their experiences. Identify what they like about their roles and about the onboarding process, and especially what they don’t like. Don’t make assumptions. By taking their feedback seriously and using it to improve the employee experience within your organization, you will improve overall customer service.
3. Be service-minded at all times.
Time is an important commodity – and your customers don’t want you to waste theirs. By making the onboarding process as simple as possible, you’re allowing them to get back to their obligations. Most importantly, you’re enabling quicker access to the products or services you provide, unlocking value for the business and your customers with a fast and seamless experience. Remember that your onboarding process is a key component of your customer service experience – being customer-centric instead of customer-focused will go a long way in enhancing their experience.
Improving your onboarding process will require careful reflection of the internal challenges you identify through empathy and a steadfast focus on what your customers want. Some key steps of this journey will be:
– Gathering insights. As mentioned above, listen to your customers and employees, capture their testimonials, and ask “why.” Their answers will lead to insights and help you identify where to begin making improvements in your process.
– Being intentional with your customer data. Collecting, standardizing, and, most importantly, using your customer data is critical to understanding if your improvements are having the intended impact. Keeping the customer top of mind and knowing what stories you should be looking for will help you identify and maintain the right information throughout your process.
– Testing your solutions. Take an iterative approach to improving your process. This will allow you to solicit continued feedback from your customers and employees to discern what’s effective before making major investments.
Transforming your customer experience can ultimately transform your business. If you’d like to discuss specific ways you can improve your onboarding experience, or if have questions about how to develop a customer-centric model for your business, reach out to me via email ([email protected]) or phone (484.383.0606) to learn more.