A catastrophic plague has infected almost every business around the world - and yet most business owners and CEOs aren't even aware that their business is sick.
Despite all of the time, money, and effort spent on marketing, prospecting, and acquisition, the average business loses 20-60% of their new customers within the First 100 Days of starting to work with them. This staggering defection rate is rarely discussed, let alone addressed. While most companies spend the bulk of their sales and marketing budgets focused on customer acquisition, few if any put energy toward keeping the customers they've worked so hard to gain.
This plague on businesses of all shapes and sizes can be cured. The secret lies in creating remarkable customer experiences. Extensive research, across a variety of industries, proves the experience you create in the First 100 Days is directly proportional to the ongoing success of your enterprise. By creating a compelling and engaging experience early in the relationship, you can build a long-term connection with your customers that will benefit your business for years to come.
The Power of Experience
In a world that is increasingly commoditized, where products and services are in a race to the bottom on price, where cost of manufacturing keeps dropping, and where 24/7 accessibility is the norm - there are very few things you can do to differentiate your offering from the competition. The experience you create for your clients and customers is the one thing you have control over. It’s a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself and be remarkable.
In the typical customer relationship, whether considering business-to-consumer or business-to-business enterprises, the bar for customer experience is lying on the ground. Most customer interactions and not only plain and uninspiring, but they often leave a customer feeling unappreciated and even disenchanted. Despite the fact that as consumers, we often feel like we are a number in a database, few business leaders are working to change that experience within their own customer base. Countless meetings and innumerable dollars are spent figuring out how to "fill the funnel" or "drive adoption" - but little time is spent thinking about how to maintain customer engagement after a sale/purchase. Shifting the focus from pre-purchase pursuit to post-purchase service dramatically impacts organizational behavior and profits.
The First 100 Days
The First 100 Days is a methodology, system, and practice for creating remarkable customer experiences. It hinges on exploring the various interactions (or touchpoints) an organization has with a new customer and then analyzing how to make each of those minute interactions more remarkable.
Investigating ways to simplify the experience, while maintaining a sense of emotional engagement, allows every interaction to contribute to an overall feeling of customer delight.
By focusing on the experience customers are having in the First 100 Days, a company can set finite and achievable goals, in a comfortable timeframe (just three months), that have a significant impact on overall operations. Designing customer interactions to produce raving fans increases customer retention and as a result, the bottom line. By decreasing customer defection by just 5%, the typical business can increase profits from 25-100%. (The Loyalty Effect, Frederick F. Reichheld).
An Onboarding Focus
Onboarding - a fancy term for how you bring customers into relationship with your business - is defined as "inviting in new customers using a managed, structured series of contacts designed to create a welcoming experience." While most companies engage in a haphazard handoff when a new customer transitions from the sales team to the account management team, the most successful enterprises take calculated steps to ensure a smooth handoff that actually enhances the relationship.
By focusing on the way customers are introduced to your operations and holding their hand as they navigate the first few touchpoints, a company can create a welcoming experience where a customer feels taken care of and appreciated.
In designing these initial interactions, you have a variety of tools and technologies that can deepen the impact of an interaction. Six key methods of communication include: in person interactions, email, phone, direct mail, video, and gifts/presents. Most companies are using two, maybe three of these tools when interacting with customers in the First 100 Days.
In person meetings allow for the deepest level of connection as nothing trumps looking another human being in the eye and sharing a moment in time. Taking the time to meet with new customers, thank them for their purchase, and walk them through using your product or service builds the strongest foundation for the relationship.
Email, when done properly, can advance the conversation and provide a new customer with insight about the onboarding process. Scalable and cost conscious, email can help build engagement with minimal time and financial investment.
A personal phone call after the purchase helps a customer feel appreciated early in the relationship and counters most feelings of buyer's remorse. In addition, it offers you the chance to ask if the customer has questions and address any objections or concerns they already have.
With more companies moving to email as their preferred communication tool, mailboxes around the world are increasingly less filled. A well-designed mail piece allows for a physical interaction, that if done properly continues the customer conversation in an unexpected medium.
Customized videos allow for a scalable interaction that feels unique and technologically advanced. A quick video - shot on a phone camera -creates a personal connection in a familiar and interactive format.
Targeted gifts and presents create a feeling of surprise and delight as a customer begins what everyone hopes is a long term relationship. Timing these surprises throughout the relationship leaves the customer feeling appreciated while creating a regular surprise interaction.
Your First 100 Days Experience
If you get the customer experience right in the First 100 Days, you can have a customer for life. By showing a new customer early on just how much your organization cares about this new relationship, a company can build a solid foundation for future interactions. Instead of focusing on booking the next sale, a First 100 Days philosophy will put the energy and attention where it can have the greatest impact on your business - retaining relationships with existing clients and increasing the depth of the the interaction.
image courtesy of tfec.org