The Most Valuable Time To Build Relationships With Customers: Post-Sale

Shelly Kramer

When it comes to customers, are marketers better served focusing on acquisition or retention? And what’s the proper balance of each?

Any marketer worth his or her salt knows that the most valuable customers, and your biggest source of business growth, lies with your current customers. As such, the most valuable time to build relationships with your customers is post-sale. Think about it: A current customer has already said yes. They already trust you. They trusted you enough to buy, anyway. Focusing on those customers post-sale is without question, the most important part of developing an ongoing relationship with them, and it’s not at all hard to do. Let’s explore.

The case for customer retention

When it comes to customer retention, marketers are historically short-sighted, as are their counterparts on the sales team. While acquisition has traditionally dominated retention as it relates to marketing strategy focus, in fact the statistical evidence points firmly towards a solid retention strategy as delivering the best ROI. The fact that we’re still talking about this amazes me: I remember learning this in my earliest days in marketing—in fact, it’s pretty much Marketing 101. Yet we still see sales teams chasing new customers and marketing teams equally focused on acquisition as well.

Consider the stats laid out in this infographic from Retention Science:

Retention-Science-Infographic

As you can see, existing customers are the veritable foundation upon which you should build your business. They have the potential to create more sales and make a greater contribution to profits, all at a lower cost to the business than what you will spend attracting new prospects. What’s not to like about that? And why the heck aren’t more marketers concentrating on customer retention strategies? Here are three things that might explain why:

  • It’s easier (and more exciting) for both sales teams and marketers to focus on drumming up new business.
  • A customer retention strategy takes time to produce returns and marketing departments (and sales teams) are under constant pressure to produce short-term results.
  • The return on investment for customers over the long-term is harder to measure than new customer sales and, therefore, harder to justify.

The importance of understanding your customer lifetime value (CLV)

For those who understand the value of retention (or who want to), embracing a customer lifetime value (CLV) mindset is key. CLV is a model that takes a long-term view of customers, estimating the value of future cash flows, and not just historical sales. It’s a complex subject that I’m not going to get into here in detail, but if you want to explore this more fully, I highly recommend you read Avinash Kaushik’s Guide to Calculating Customer Lifetime Value. I love his blog, and his big brain, and once you read this guide, I predict you’ll be likewise enamored. More importantly, thinking about CLV as he breaks it down will help you as you create your own customer retention strategies.

The point is that while the majority of companies see value in CLV as a concept, only a minority report that they are able to put it into action. According to an Econsultancy study more than three-quarters of companies (76 percent) considered CLV to be important, but less than half (42 percent) actually said that they were able to measure it. Worse still, just 11 percent said that they “strongly agree” that they could measure CLV, meaning that a mere one in every ten companies would appear to have fully grasped the concept.

CLV chart Graphic source: econsultancy.com

Customer retention strategies: How to build post-sale relationships

So if I’ve managed to convince you about the importance of this, please know that an effective customer retention strategy does not mean sending random email blasts to your new customers focused solely on generating interest and more sales. You need a communication strategy with this customer base that delivers ongoing value post-sale and continues to build trust and credibility. You don’t need to constantly be selling them, but you do need to be touching them on a regular basis so that you don’t become just another commodity. There are myriad things you can do, including:

  • Provide memorable customer service. That means empowering your front line staff (online or off) with real time customer information, so that questions can be answered and issues resolved without delay. You want to be proactive, rather than reactive, and build good relationships by meeting—even exceeding, where possible—customer expectations.
  • Listen and learn. Encouraging feedback from customers, both positive and negative, is a great way to understand their likes and dislikes, as well as their needs and wants. Monitoring reviews and social commentary on your brand can provide invaluable insights into what customers are looking for.
  • Everybody likes attention. Feature your customers, and their stories in your eNewsletter and/or by way of short video interviews that can live on both your website and your YouTube channel.
  • Reward loyalty. Build strong loyalty programs that reward ongoing business. Customers may like patronizing your business, but they’ll like you even more if you reward them from time to time for being a great customer. This is easy to do, and can be very cost effective, yet go a long way toward establishing strong relationships.
  • Remember that referrals are a gift. A referral from a satisfied customer is the best kind of gift—don’t take that for granted. Don’t forget to establish referral programs that reward customers for sending you business.
  • Pay attention, pay it forward. Find and follow your customers in social media channels. Share their stories, support their marketing efforts, introduce them to your other customers. Relationships are a two-way street, so remembering that, and putting that into action can go a long way toward building customer relationships that are long and mutually beneficial. Social media makes that easy.

How to not be a commodity: Educate them about your other offerings

Once you’ve got the relationship-building part under control and in process, know that you do need to continue to touch and educate your customers about the other things you do and sell and how you might serve them. As an example, we once had a customer who sold aluminum bleachers to schools and community centers. When I asked about what happened after the sale, our client said that the last contact with a customer was a “your product has shipped” email notification, and that was that.

What they weren’t taking into consideration is that their clients largely found them online, and once the sale was over, they risked being forgotten by customers who might not remember where they purchased. Those same customers, however, might also need things like gym flooring, soccer goals, basketball goals and nets, or pool equipment. But they weren’t staying in touch in any way at all with those customers after their initial purchase, nor were they making any effort to let those customers know other ways they could be of service, thus making those other sales largely impossible. We changed that, and guess what? They sold more stuff as a result.

Whatever tools and tactics you use to develop a retention strategy, it should be built around one clear goal: Building a post-sale relationship with every single customer is the key to business growth and profitability. Court new customers for sure, but don’t ever lose sight of how valuable your existing customer base is. And make sure your marketing efforts are designed to keep those existing customers top-of-mind.

What loyalty and retention strategies do you employ for your business or for your clients? What do you have to add to the list above? I’d love to hear what’s working for you and any lessons you’ve learned along the way.

 

This article was originally seen on The MarketingScope.

The post The Most Valuable Time to Build Relationships With Customers: Post-Sale appeared first on Millennial CEO.

Photo Credit: Polycart via Compfight cc

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Social Selling Manners And Etiquette

Arif Johari

There’s an old adage: Treat others as you want to be treated. This still applies in the digital world we find ourselves in today. Are you aggressively pursuing customers and trying to get in their news feeds? Are you growing relationships and coming alongside as an advisor and partner in the buying process?

Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of social selling, and how to behave in the digital world.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.“ – Damon Richards

Hunting vs. fishing

Fishing is broadcasting to a wide net. Hunting is actively listening to prospects and sharing personalized content to them—this is necessary to prove yourself a trusted advisor who’s in tune to prospects’ needs. Both of these approaches are needed because 11.4 pieces of content are consumed before making a purchase decision. By fishing, you’re elevating your company’s brand, and by hunting, you’re elevating your personal brand.

Engagement is king when it comes to relationships

Engaging people authentically is vital. The goal of making a social media post is to get engagement; therefore, you are giving prospects maximum value by doing this strategically and consistently. Engagement breeds engagement—treat others as you want to be treated.

The relationship between B2B buyer and seller have changed

Buyers expect salespeople to have expanded skill sets because 74% of buying decision is at least half-completed based on online research, before first touchpoint with a salesperson. So the information is already out there; what’s the value-add from a salesperson? Salespeople would have to position themselves as visible experts and are able to respond to questions, provide product pricing info, and provide testimonials in real-time. A salesperson’s role is to identify buying signals and help customers on all platforms, including social media.

Social selling is a long game

Building relationships depends on establishing trust and value over time. Building a good relationship means exposing yourself to buyers more than you might be used to. People do business with people they know and like!

Salespeople should treat social media like a cocktail party:

  1. Observe room
  2. Choose conversation to add value
  3. Politely add value with relevant insights

Using social listening to bolster offline relationship

Even if your prospects aren’t actively posting on social media, they still have profiles. LinkedIn users would get e-mail notification for messages sent on the platform, and users who are tagged in a status update would get a notification —so you can be noticed even when you’re not a connection! Before a call or meeting, review social media profiles for relationship-building cues (same experience, common connections, interests, etc.)—people like human connections, and personalized effort will put salespeople ahead of competitors.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.

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Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

Seven Facts In Retail That Demand Change

Mark de Bruijn

Customer loyalty is no longer the powerhouse that it once was. In the digital age, consumers expect top-notch customer service, and the ability to buy what they want, anywhere, and anytime, through various channels, offline and online. With brick-and-mortar stores seeing fewer and fewer purchases while online sales continue to enjoy meteoric rises, retailers must face the music, and it’s a whole new dance card.

Omnichannel, multi-channel, seamless integration, and outstanding, personalized customer experiences are critical to a retailer surviving today.

Here are seven facts in retail that must be addressed.

1. Retailers still do not provide a seamless omnichannel experience

Only 17 percent of retailers indicate that their current omnichannel selection provides seamless integration for an optimal customer experience. Of the retailers that do offer omnichannel, many noted that each channel still provides their own customer experience, primarily due to a lack of integration in the back office. The facts are clear: A seamless omnichannel experience is essential as today’s demanding customers expect a personalized customer journey, regardless of where they interact with the brand. Retailers can only meet those expectations by integrating all channels.

2. Retailers do not have a central customer profile

Only 8 percent of retailers have a single customer profile, though the importance of a central customer profile is endorsed by virtually all retailers. Organizational silos, which cannot be accessed by the marketing department, prohibit critical access to the data necessary to compile a clear customer profile from the various details that are already being collected. By analyzing customer data, retailers can better understand customer behavior and gain valuable insights regarding how, where, and why the customer chooses their product. Based on those insights, retailers can develop business strategies and marketing campaigns.

3. Retailers have difficulty securing all contact points

The customer journey consists of a multitude of touchpoints which can be approached in a random order. That is great for the customer experience, but more contact points mean more data access points need to be secured. The more data access points there are, the greater the chance of data leaks. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compels retailers to keep their data maintenance in order based on EU law.

4. Loyalty programs are not dead, they just need restructuring

Marketers talk amongst themselves about a shift from macro to micro customer segmentation. In these discussions, they challenge the importance of loyalty programs. Surveys show, however, that customers actually do value such programs. 66 percent of customers actively participate in one or more loyalty programs. Although such loyalty programs are popular, they are in need of restructuring. By focusing these programs on individual tastes and preferences, the customers receive the unique and personal attention they enjoy so much.

5. In retail, social media is increasingly acknowledged as a review platform

Over 50 percent of consumers use social media to submit complaints to companies, or post reviews and responses. Social media is a quick and easy way to announce customer dissatisfaction to the rest of the world. Due to the increased use of social media, the time-honored principle of word-of-mouth advertising has grown into an enormously influential factor in the world of retail. For retailers, it is important to find out what customers are sharing on social media about their brand, and to try and have a positive influence on it.

6. CEOs feel the need for new KPIs that are focused on customer-centricity

Over 60% of CEOs critically assess the way their company uses data for promotional events, primarily because each department only focuses on its own KPIs. This needs to change dramatically. Instead of using the perspective of isolated company silos, KPIs must be based on a clear focus on the customer. Only then will everyone pursue the same ultimate objective: Excellent customer experiences.

7. Only a handful have an effective road map in place for the digital age

These next twelve months, organizations will focus on increasing profits, building customer trust, and providing excellent customer experiences. However, they usually lack an effective road map to achieve these objectives. In order to retain and improve customer loyalty, it is essential that these objectives remain top priority. A plan for making that happen is the basis for effective action. Technology offers a supporting tool to execute this plan.

Putting the customer on a pedestal

If the retail world is a flat landscape, the customer is the one who rises above them all. Customers like to have personal attention, anywhere, and at any time. It is up to retailers to answer that call and adapt to the digital age.

Ready to address the changes that retailers must make? Download our 2017 retail study, “Customers Are Calling The Shots” for FREE here

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Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

Link to Sources


From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.