When it comes to providing peak customer support, there is only so much time and so many resources. Allocating those resources requires some picking and choosing–what kind of customer will benefit most, and provide the biggest payback, from the most attention and effort? Many ecommerce companies will tend to choose, whether inadvertently or not, potential customers over actual customers to receive the biggest boon.
So, what’s the problem with coddling those would-be customers dabbling with the free trial? While putting your best customer service foot forward is essential to customer acquisition efforts, several issues take away from potential customers being the biggest “high impact” group:
Client onboarding takes longer than expected
When you know your business front to back, it can be hard to tune in to the new customer experience (“They are confused about that?”). Despite best efforts to get new customers up to speed, the client onboarding period may last significantly longer than the free trial. Just because customers begin paying does not mean that they have it all figured out. In fact, you may find that new customers have many of the same questions and roadblocks as free trial potentials.
The solution: Avoid the temptation to think of customers as “out of sight, out of mind” once they sign up for your service. Be proactive and reach out to new customers with the goal of tapping into lingering hesitations. They may not know about certain features or be taking full advantage of your service.
New customers are underutilized
Another reason to keep your eyes on new customers longer than you may feel is necessary: as the newbies to your company, they have a keen perspective on how your company looks from the outside. Something attracted them to your company, just as something may have been off-putting, even a potential deal breaker. Don’t waste the opportunity to gain valuable insight into how your marketing and onboarding efforts are received.
The solution: With fresh eyes and a clear vision for what they are looking for, they new customers are a rich source of feedback. Tap into these customers with frequent, non-invasive opportunities for sharing their suggestions and usage information. A simple gauge of how the customer is feeling–such as the option to choose between a smiley, neutral, or frowny face–provides input about who to target. It also lets you know which customers are about to bag out, again providing an opportunity for outreach.
You don’t understand how your service is used
Continual work with both new and potential customers will cause you to become highly attuned to the new customer experience. If you’re paying attention, you should be able to anticipate their roadblocks and questions and proactively respond with support. Yet the ways in which customers use your service when they first begin may be very different from how they use it after a month or a year. The reason why customers started using your service may not be the same reason why they continue to use it. By failing to keep tabs on more experienced customers, you may lose touch with how your product is actually used. This blinds you to opportunities for further innovation.
The solution: Don’t assume that long-term customers are best left on their own. Check in with some regularity to find out what could be improved–and more importantly, listen. Conversations provide an opportunity to gain a realistic idea of how your service operates which goes beyond usage data. Once you gain this picture, focus on improving your service where it is most used, or channel marketing efforts toward spreading awareness of other uses.
Loyal customers are underutilized
In terms of growth and acquisition, your oldest and most loyal customers are your greatest resource. The customers who have built a relationship with your company not only understand the product, but also know how it can benefit other companies. Don’t let their knowledge and (positive) experiences go to waste by leaving them out of the loop. By failing to involve these customers in your evolving business trajectory, you miss out on an opportunity to scale organically through word-of-mouth advertising.
The solution: Loyalty marketing rewards long-term customers with scaled benefits and rewards. Help them feel appreciated personally to grow their bond with your company. Don’t let your loudest customers be your unhappy ones. Provide opportunities for happy customers to share the good news with social media linking and incentives for reviews.
There many not be one “target group” of customers who will magically impact customer acquisition. Most likely, customer service efforts will require catering to some combination of new and experienced customers. A concentrated, deliberate approach to feedback through targeted, proactive customer support will always yield better results.