Recently, in one of the LinkedIn groups to which I am a member, a question was asked about customers which got me wondering how companies view their customers.
The question that was asked was whether your customers are your best sales/marketing people? At first view, this seems absolute lunacy. Your customers are your assets. They are the people who pay you and help you to stay in business. Why would someone who is paying YOU for services also go on to sell and advertise your services for you? More importantly, if you are expecting them to do this for free, what's in it for them and why would they bother?
The thing is, when you think about it, it's something we all do without realising. Think of the times you have recommended something to a friend - a local takeaway restaurant, a particular automotive garage, a particular brand or scent of perfume, the ideal holiday location or even a film that's on at the cinema?
That's right - You have already been used for sales of someone else's product that you have probably paid for yourself - and your business customers are no different to you. You all make comments and recommendations either by word of mouth, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or to offers on Groupon, Vouchers and the other "social" methods out there.
If the product or service you are providing to them is presented in the right way, they can refer other people to you, merely by saying how pleased they were with it. Whether it be the sales person they spoke to, the product itself, the efficiency with which it was provided or the after-sales care they received (more of which later), any one of these factors can be enough to either promote or damage your company brand.
Back in the 1980's there was a craze for "get rich quick" schemes, most of which revolved around the "Pyramid" system, whereby one person (Jack) would introduce 5 people to the product they were promoting. In turn, each of those 5 people would introduce 5 people to the product (at which point Jack would receive a small "introducer's" fee). If those further 25 individuals then went on to introduce another 5 people each, then their respective referrers would received a small fee and Jack would also get a throwback as they came from his introductions as in the above scenario at a 3rd generation level Jack has now been responsible for 155 new leads. People were taken in by the escalation rate at which they (as Jack) would start to rake in the money by "sitting and doing nothing" and, as time went on, they became quickly identifiable and people steered clear.
However, the point is this.
Your company/business IS Jack. By getting YOUR customers (those introductions) to talk to other people about your services you will receive further business which otherwise would have probably passed you by (if not passed you by, they wouldn't have been as "easy" as sell, as they are pre-warmed by your customer) and you get your "introducer fees" in the shape of new business, merely by "sitting and doing nothing". OK, in reality we know you're not doing "nothing", you're serving your customers well, which is why they are recommending you. But weren't you doing that anyway? So imagine it as "sitting doing nothing DIFFERENT" and, as a result having your customers bending over backwards shouting about you.
Customer referrals are an easy introduction for your sales team. As previously mentioned, they have already been "warmed up" by your best marketeers - existing HAPPY customers! Tell your sales people that you have a warm lead for them, rather than a cold one and they will smile, trust me!
And if they're NOT happy customers then (I said we'd come to after-sales later) your customer services department should be identifying them and doing something to change that anyway and THAT's what's in it for your existing customers - an ever improving service offering at all levels, giving them a reason to shout about you in a positive light.
So how does your company keep track of these happy customers? How do you know who your customers are to find out if they're happy, or need to be nurtured to (as those 1980's Pyramid gurus used to say) "turn that frown upside down"?
With a CRM solution in place (no prizes for guessing which one we'd recommend) you are going to be able to capture and, more importantly, quickly retrieve the information you need to find the answers to these questions.
If you're wanting to know more as to how you can make the most of your customers' reselling potential and, in the process, ensure that those existing customers receive an even better service from your business to keep them talking in a positive light about you, then sign up for a free trial of SugarCRM?
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