Friday, December 4, 2009

Where is the Customer Love?

He loves me, she loves me not. Who are my best customers? My most vocal advocates? Who needs a nudge to move further in the buying process? Why is our campaign delivering lackluster results? Why don’t our customers understand us? I suppose I could have named this post “please don’t lump all of your customers in one bucket”.

Sadly, many B2B and B2C marketers still fall into the trap of poorly segmented communications. Sales, services, and executives can share some blame as well, since they often are involved in communications.

Why is it so hard? One reason is that people in your organization have a bias for who they believe the customer is and how the buying process works. If you are an executive charged with raising capital you might think that the investor is the customer. If you are in the trenches helping somebody through a problem with your product or service then you know they are a real customer as opposed to a prospect. Sales and even some marketing personnel fail to differentiate between suspects, prospects, and customers.

Not having a common view and language exacerbates the problems with sales and marketing alignment and execution. Ultimately the customer suffers, but so does business. Diminished sales, poor loyalty, and price buyers are often the result.

Communications happen at various touchpoints before, during, and after, your customers buy and use your product. Not recognizing this is a prescription for customers churn, poor brand aftertaste, and ultimately a disengaged marketplace. Employees involved in this are forced to spin their wheels becoming disenfranchised, which further degrades the customer experience.

At For Doers, we believe that companies that make the customer experience core to their operation are more successful. Communications is an important lever in improving the customer experience. There are many opportunities for customer delight in communications.

At the very minimum companies should segment customer communications into 3 stages.

The first stage is Exposure. Here you expose suspects to your products and services and turn them into a prospect. Next is the Adoption stage. Getting your prospect through the sales process and consuming your product or service is the goal. The last stage is Retention.

Bain and Company research established that it is 10x more costly to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. So naturally, you wish to retain customers and expose them to them to new products and services. Advocates are loyal, often will pay more and buy more, provide useful feedback and input on products and services and insulate you from the effectiveness of competitor price promotions. Properly enabled, they also expose and influence likeminded customers. Because of this, it is important to continue to build the relationship and strive for advocacy. This is especially importance in a era where B2C and B2B buyers turn to social networks and online information sources for opinions and counsel before completing a purchase decision.

NetFlix Example of Poorly Segmented Communications
Alaska Airlines Example of a Segmented Communication

Please contact us if you would like an outside assessment and further guidance in improving your customers experience through communications. We have a range of services available.

Share your views and experiences about customer communications. Take the survey and be sure to include your email address if you'd like to see how your answers compare to others. Feel free to share the link with others.

No comments: