By now, all of us have at least a passing understanding of HubSpot’s inbound methodology (and if you don’t, I’d suggest our page on Inbound Marketing for Business).
We’ve all heard of companies leveraging inbound for business growth.
They may have a great content program that generates and nurtures leads. They are working with effective and accurate buyer personas and moving people through their buyer’s journey. It’s a tremendous strategy, but once the sale is made and the new customer is passed to the account manager, service group or onboarding team, then the engagement stops. The sales and marketing group is moving on to the next prospect. Everyone turns their attention to the next opportunity.
The new customer is quickly forgotten.
That’s not how inbound works, and it is a massive lost opportunity.
How the Inbound Methodology Works
HubSpot succinctly describes the inbound methodology as a flywheel that ultimately drives business growth. There are three components in the flywheel:
- Attract: Marketing reaches out to prospects to attract them to your business. You offer them content and potential solutions, letting them know how your company can solve their problems.
- Engage: In this phase, the marketing and sales team work through the sales process with the prospect. The goal is to motivate the prospect to convert and become a customer.
- Delight: Finally, once the prospect has converted and becomes a customer, the sales and service team continues to provide exceptional support after the purchase. The goal is to provide such an exceptional, delightful customer experience that the customer returns to you in the future, becoming an advocate for your business.
At first glance, this seems easy to understand. Find customers, work with them to solve problems, and make them happy enough to come back for future purchases. Unfortunately, many companies fail to fully implement the inbound methodology. Many see inbound as a “marketing thing,” rather than a customer-centric business growth strategy.
Typically, it’s the delight phase that is ignored. The team sees strong results in the attract phase, and just enough momentum in the engage phase, that by the time they get to delight, everyone is back to finding new prospects to jump-start the cycle again. Rather than delighting, the company is just getting by.
With the delight phase suffering, these companies are ignoring potential sales and revenue. This can lead to customer churn, lower revenue, fewer leads and unhappy customers driving away future prospects.
The Benefits of Delighting Your Customers
As a company, you need to see the sale as only one component of your relationship with the customer, rather than the end point. As a flywheel, you need to provide as much energy to the delight phase as you do the attract and engage phases.
That new customer needs as much attention and engagement as the new prospect, otherwise you create friction in the flywheel and the entire inbound methodology starts sputtering and grinding like a broken engine.
Let’s take a look at a few benefits you may be missing by not delighting your customers.
1. Upselling Made Easy
As much as we would like to believe every sale is exceptional, building a close and trusted relationship with a new customer takes time. There are no shortcuts.
After the contract is signed, the new customer is evaluating your business, service and product. They need to know you can really solve their problem. They want confirmation that you are the right solution that can help them grow their business. Often, they will initially purchase a smaller, more limited solution until you can prove your value. Think of it like a trial run, and they want to see quick wins and value from you.
No sales process can ever replace the trust that is built over time, but providing an exceptional experience to the customer can help. Making the delight phase of the inbound methodology a priority, going above and beyond with every customer interaction, will go far in helping to prove the value you provide and lead to opportunities to upsell.
2. A Steady Stream of Future Sales
One important tenet of the inbound methodology is to solve for future needs. When you look at your relationship with a customer as transactional, rather than as a relationship in which you are striving to delight, then you aren’t looking ahead at future needs. You are missing additional problems you could be solving for the customer.
Active engagement is an important part of delighting the customer. When you work as a partner, when you provide the value necessary to create delight, you will uncover additional opportunities. Asking the customer if they need anything, continuing the conversation beyond the sale will lead to more work and more opportunity. When you are providing the best solution possible, when the customer needs more help you will be the first person they contact.
That means business growth.
3. Breaking the Cycle of Customer Churn
Customer churn, or customer attrition or turnover, is what happens when you lose a customer or client. It is typically measured as the percentage of customers that stopped using your company over a period of time.
While it may hurt to reflect on a lost customer, it is a critical metric for any business. The cost of upselling an existing customer, or even continuing to provide service to that customer, is significantly lower than finding and converting a new customer. Onboarding that new customer is also more expensive than starting a project with an existing customer.
Every customer lost to churn is a painful bite to your bottom line. Customer churn means lost recurring revenue. It means the business needs to invest more to recover the lost revenue. Customer churn is costly. If customer churn is too high, the business may not be able to recover.
A business focused on customer delight is taking steps to reduce customer churn. You can eliminate churn by proactively reaching out to customers. When you are providing value to the customer, you are reinforcing your worth to them. If you aren’t providing support, then the customer will find it easy to stop using your product or service. If you are looking ahead to their future needs, then the customer knows you will continue to provide value.
Reducing customer churn by providing customer delight will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
4. An Influx of Referrals and New Customers
Your best customers should also be your best marketing tools.
Data has shown that customer referrals deliver the highest quality leads to your sales team. The conversion rate for customer referrals is more than 40 percent in some studies. Finding those leads that come from customer referrals, and then converting the leads, takes less work and less investment.
The reason is simple: people take advice from those they trust. If you are providing exceptional service, supporting a great product and continuing to stay engaged with the customer, then they will tell the people they know and trust about your how awesome your company, product or service is. That is invaluable marketing and brand messaging.
If you see customer delight as a critical part of your business strategy, then customer referrals will follow. They will provide you with a steady stream of sales-ready leads. In fact, recent data has shown satisfied and delighted customers will increase sales by at least 2 percent.
5. Empowering the Customer Relationship
Many companies still see customer service as an expense, rather than an investment in the business. To them, a deep customer service department is a sign of product or service problems rather than a tool for company growth. By minimizing and sidelining the service and delight component of the flywheel, they are missing out on the chance to empower and develop the customer relationship.
When you stop looking at customer service as a combative, us-against-them proposition, and look at it as another way you can help the customer reach their goals, then you are empowering the customer. You are giving them the resources they need to be successful. This increases customer loyalty, reduces customer churn and provides greater customer satisfaction.
Often, with more customer engagement and greater empowerment, you will start identifying potential problems for your customer early. By implementing proactive solutions, you can reduce the need for costly “fix-it” customer service. You can start looking at ways to grow the business with your customers, through customer service, rather than lurching from one service disaster to another.
Customer Delight vs. Customer Satisfaction
One way that businesses can stop losing business and start embracing customer delight is to stop seeing customer service as a business expense. You need to see it is as a critical component of revenue generation.
Customer service needs to be a priority for the entire business. Sales, marketing, operations and business leadership are all in the business of providing fantastic experiences for the customer.
Today, with more and more customers venting on social media and writing poor reviews when a vendor or service provider delivers poor service, customer satisfaction is simply not enough. If you can’t provide the delight that customers want, then they will go to the reviews to find a vendor or supplier who can.
If you have questions, or want to explore strategies for providing exceptional customer service and triggering business growth, then let us know. Set up a quick call with a GO2 expert, and let us come up with a strategy for delighting your best customers.
We’re here to help.