"Always be closing.” This famous one-liner uttered by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross has become, and remained, a renowned mantra for sales professionals and business executives. This famous saying suggests that you should do absolutely anything to close the deal and to close the deal quickly.
Although making the sale is important, it's not the be-all-end-all. In other words, while of course you need to sell your products/services in order to succeed as a business, high close rates will not guarantee your company’s success.
A-Always, B-Be, D-Delighting
Instead of pushing consumers through the buyer's journey at a pace you set, try to treat your visitors and leads the way they want to be treated -- letting them progress at a pace that's more comfortable for them. And then, of course, extending that service to a customer's post-sale experience.
It's for this reason that the inbound methodology doesn't end with the close phase. There's an additional stage -- the delight stage -- which requires continuous commitment, dedication, and attention to detail long after the initial sale is made.
The purpose of the delight stage is simple: you want your customers to be delighted with your product, your service, and with their purchase choice. That said, there are also tremendous financial benefits that result from delighting customers -- loyal customers are one of the greatest assets your company can have.
The Proof Is in the Metrics
Simply put, delighting your customers makes them more valuable to you by increasing your customer retention rate and, in turn, your customers’ lifetime value. In fact, according to a Loyalty360 survey, three quarters of respondents reported that 20% of new sales come from existing customers.Furthermore, it costs 5 times less to generate new business from an existing customer than to acquire a new customer.
Collectively, these statistics suggest that if you focus on delighting your customers rather than simply making the initial sale, you can decrease costs, improve your customer retention rate, and increase the lifetime value of your customers, all of which will improve your ROI and the financial return on the time and money that you invested to acquire your customers.
The Power of Referrals
Delighted customers are loyal customers and loyal customers are worth far more than what they personally spend on your products and services. The primary business value offered by delighted, loyal customers is through the power of their referrals. According to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing and 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. This means when you go above and beyond customers’ expectations time and again, they become promoters for your company, bringing you new customers and helping to build your brand’s reputation.
Of course, the opposite is true, too. According to a 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report,89% of consumers began doing business with/purchasing from a competitor following a poor customer experience. Not only will this result in a poor customer retention rate, but according to Harvard Business Review, 48% of people who have a negative experience tell at least 10 other people about the experience, which is actively tarnishing your brand and discouraging potential customers from using you in the future.
So, how do you delight customers?
1) Have a good product.
This should be an obvious one, but in order to delight your customers, you need to have a good product -- or service, if that's what you're selling. The product should not simply be functional, but it should be optimized for the user in order to provide the most enjoyable experience possible. At HubSpot we call this solving for the customer, and it's top of mind for every department -- but particularly for developers. (You can read about how we use customer feedback as an approach to product development in this post.) If the product you’re selling isn't good, it will be incredibly difficult to delight customers no matter how great your service and support teams are.
2) Delight your employees.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." - Simon Sinek
If you want your customers to be delighted, you must first delight your employees. Delighting your employees means more than providing them with snacks, flexible hours, tuition reimbursements, and social events. While those things are nice, to truly delight your employees you need to educate and empower them.
As Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has said, “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” In one way or another, all of your employees interact with your customers and can play a role in delighting them. Thus, it's vital that all of your employees are able to define your company’s buyer personas off the top of their heads and understand your products and services.
In order to empower your employees, you need to hire the right people and educate them so you can feel comfortable allowing them to make decisions and to act based on their own judgment -- and so they feel invested in the success of the company's customers.
3) Be consistent.
The goal of every interaction your employees have with customers should be to solve their problems, to do it in a timely manner, and to provide follow-up suggestions/recommendations to make them more successful.
A customer's perception of your company is influenced by every interaction -- the collection of many small interactions creates the overall experience. As a result, it's a good idea to ask for customer feedback so that you can identify areas that require improvement and you can track your company’s progress. A simple way to do this is to regularly determine your Net Promoter Score (NPS) which will give you an indication of the loyalty of your customers, as well as areas in which you can improve to increase customer loyalty.
It's important to remember that delighting your customers is not the same as simply meeting their expectations. Delighting your customers requires that you listen to their complaints, ask for their suggestions, and that you strive to always be improving and finding new ways to exceed their expectations.
Originally published Feb 24, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017