As digital marketing strategists and consultants, I believe there needs to be a fundamental change in the way we are helping clients reach their goals. As digital business partners we have a vested interest in seeing our clients succeed, end of story. That means we have to eliminate the idea of “short term sales” from our language, and begin to focus on services that benefit our clients most at any moment in the span of the relationship.
We all need to stop looking to silo our services and instead have a holistic approach to the client’s needs and concerns.
Because silos are pretty boring, amirite?
It’s no longer about throwing as much as you can at clients and hoping something will stick. Those days are gone. It’s now about the customer lifetime value and tailoring that as much as you can to each individual client’s needs and continuing to do so beyond the initial handshake. Clients’ needs and goals will change throughout the business relationship. No two clients are alike, and that means our approach should never be the same with any two clients.
One way of doing that is making sure that each client has their concerns heard. No matter how big or how small, a concern is a concern, and our priority is to take those concerns head on as much as possible, as early as possible. Whether it’s an emergency meeting with the client or having your director personally reach out, your goal should be to make sure your client’s experience with you is nothing short of stellar each time.
So, what is my point?
As a business partner, we need to be making sure our clients also inherit this attitude and hunger the same way we have as digital marketing strategists. This includes responding to their company reviews personally and professionally, and making sure that their customer’s experience is, again, nothing short of stellar.
I am often fascinated by the lack of communication clients have with their customers. We live in an age where customer engagement is the easiest and most direct it has ever been, yet so many of us decide not to utilize this fascinating moment in time. You’ll find some companies have reviews that are negative or damning to the customer’s experience with them, and all too often those reviews or testimonies go unanswered or with little response. Customers take notice, and those customers often never come back.
This angry customer kind of looks like Louis C.K.
This has to stop. Let me repeat that: this HAS to stop. Think of a bad review or testimony as a second chance opportunity. Lure the customer back in with your response and look for opportunities to change their opinions. If a customer takes the time to write a review, whether bad or glowing, take the time to let the customer know that their concerns are heard and that you are doing everything you can to right the wrongs. Your presence to the customer is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal; make sure you are using it.
How Do We Show We Are Listening?
While I understand that a client’s priority is selling products or services, they need to understand that people read into these sorts of things, meaning reviews and other customers experience with companies. That’s because customers aren’t just buying a product, they are buying an experience. Let’s use the auto industry for example, look at any car commercial out now:
- Subaru “Where she grew up”
- “That’s why I buy a Subaru” Companion
- Volkswagen “Pink Moon”
- Chevrolet “Maddie”
When people buy a car, they aren’t just buying a product, they are buying the experience with it. And a very huge portion of that experience is going to be that which they have with the dealership – the purchase itself and beyond (maintenance, next car purchase, trade ins, warranty honoring, and so on.)
And it most certainly isn’t only limited to cars…
Domino’s Pizza Does It Right
One company that has done a fantastic job of attempting to right its wrongs is Domino’s. They have made an entire rebranding effort of taking customer reviews, stating them publicly, and saying how they are going to fix them. While it’s incredibly risky, it proves obvious things:
- Domino’s is listening
- Domino’s is changing
Domino’s Admitting Mistakes on Customer Reviews:
While both of these concepts are fantastic and heartwarming to know, most of us are essentially doing neither, even at face value. Companies may be reading and trying to fix issues behind closed doors, but they have to understand that we now live in an era of incredible customer engagement and interaction, with so many tools making this a possibility.
Simply put, if you don’t respond, customers will get a response elsewhere. We are talking about selling products here; your clients aren’t the only ones doing it, and others will gladly pick up the slack tenfold.
The days of “people will tell 9 people about a good experience, and twice as many about a bad experience”, are gone. Review sites have a HUGE effect on those numbers and exponentially increase how quickly in the heat of the moment customers can state their opinions.
Not only with our clients that are lacking in their customer response, we have to be translating to ALL of our clients the importance of customer engagement and lifetime value, especially since it is so ridiculously easy to do with direct communication platforms.
It’s not just about short term sales anymore; it’s about cultivating customers and keeping their lifetime value at its highest performance. We have to go beyond the purchase and the initial handshake. We are selling experiences, and as a business partner we have a huge interest in making sure our clients understand the importance of their brand power and customer experience/equity. After all, it is also reflection of our work as digital strategists.