What’s cooler than gaining a customer? I am talking about having an impact on multiple dimensions at once I’m not talking about gaining two customers, even though that’s still pretty cool. I’m talking about having an impact on multiple dimensions at once. It’s getting customers to come back to your business.
Why? Because this demonstrates an understanding of customer intimacy.
But most businesses that grow and scale have other revenue streams that contribute to the bottom line Your core product is valuable to customers and is what drives your business, but many businesses that are successful have additional sources of revenue that contribute to their overall profit. You could proactively provide more value to increase customer loyalty and reduce customer churn. You can improve the value you offer to customers by considering and fulfilling their needs. Good customer intimacy means being able to understand what the customer wants and needs.
What Is Customer Intimacy?
A company’s level of customer intimacy is determined by how well it attends to its customer’s needs. The company’s strategy is to identify and prioritize the needs of the business. This may require close contact and working with customers through different channels. This means that customers are more likely to return to the business and that they are more likely to spend money while they are there.
A summary of the original thinking behind customer intimacy can be found in Michael Tracy and Fred Wiersema’s book, “Customer Intimacy and Other Value Disciplines”. ” Treacy explains that customer intimacy means creating market segments and targeting them specifically, then designing products and services to match the needs of those segments. Companies that excel in customer intimacy have a deep understanding of their customer base and are able to quickly adapt their operations to changes or special requests. This allows them to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. As a consequence, these companies engender tremendous customer loyalty.”
It’s also about earning their trust by being transparent and honest with them. Customer intimacy is about more than just taking a proactive approach with customers; it’s also about earning their trust by being transparent and honest with them. The company is targeting a specific group of consumers whose needs it knows it can satisfy.
The authors use Home Depot as an example in the article. Its staff is instructed to take time with each customer to make sure the customer chooses the right products for their needs. The in-store help led to an increase in sales. The next time someone has an issue in their home, they will know they can go to Home Depot not just to buy what they need, but to find out what they need to buy.
Customer intimacy is a way to create value in the market. This means that you must determine what your customers value and how you can provide it to them. Companies can use different strategies to be more responsive to customer sentiment and loyalty. Some strategies include surveys, customer service evaluations, and social media monitoring.
Customer Intimacy Strategies Any Company Can Try
Implement operational practices that prioritize the customers.
Hearing out customer complaints and implementing solutions based on their feedback is key to upholding a positive reputation. It is more important to prioritize them than to discourage them.
Support reps should not be evaluated only on the number of calls they take. A goal to improve their customer Net Promoter Score® (NPS) should also be included.
Create, enforce, and adopt more customer-centric policies.
Design customer service policies that will make it easy for customers to get the most out of your product or service.
Zappos is well-known for being a customer-centric company, thanks to policies like:
- The ability to send back shoes you don’t like free of charge
- Free shipping both ways reduces the risk for the customer
- A 365-day return policy
This was a big change in how the service was delivered so that it would match what customers wanted. It came from being dedicated to hearing and responding to customer needs.
An example would be Zappos not originally having a 365-day return policy. An internal company culture that focused on the customer and allowed for testing and refinement of business processes resulted in the return policy evolving over time. Originally, our returns policy was only 30 days, but we kept increasing it at the urging of our customers, who became more loyal as we lengthened the returns period.
Let your customers know they’re valued.
Make sure your actions support your words by valuing and appreciating your customers’ feedback and input. You can do this by appointing customer advisory boards, creating a forum for your customers to communicate, or reaching out to high-value customers and partners before product launches to get their input and ideas.
Write case studies about your customers.
Sharing positive customer experiences on popular platforms frequented by prospects and customers can be a great way to show customer intimacy.
To take advantage of social proof, write case studies and ask customers who are happy with your product or service for testimonials. This information will help you understand your customers better and what they want. This will in turn help you sell them your product or service more easily and create a more intimate customer relationship.
Reward your customers for their advocacy and loyalty.
After you have gained a customer base that is interested and excited about your brand, start giving them rewards for being your loyal advocates. Create a system where customers can earn points for completing advocacy activities, like sharing your content on social media, leaving a customer review, or writing a testimonial. These points can then be redeemed for free swag, purchase discounts, or other valuable prizes.
Host events with your customers centered around their needs.
Since a lot of business is done electronically these days, events that are either in person or digital can help create a closer relationship with customers. Webinars, training, trade shows, and events can help build trust and emotionally-driven relationships, which are better predictors of loyalty than customer satisfaction alone.
Offer customer training courses to create product experts.
If you want to increase sales of your product or service, create customer training courses and certifications. This will show customers that you are an expert in your field and that your product or service is reliable. By becoming an expert in your product or service, customers can offer their services as consultants to help improve their profile and earn more money.
Share free educational resources to help customers derive more value from your products.
Design free resources that your customers can use to to get more value out of your product. There are many ways that companies can reach their audiences, including blogging, hosting webinars, creating social media content, and posting videos on YouTube or creating video classes.
The founder of Geek Squad was asked why they have a YouTube channel which teaches people how to fix their problems, as this could undermine the core service provided.
The response indicated that Geek Squad was seen as the best option for people who were interested in technology, and that these people would only seek out professional help once they had tried everything else. After watching hours of Geek Squad videos, this audience trusted Geek Squad to help them convert a customer through the trust that the video content had created.
Geek Squad created content that added extra benefits for its audience, customers, and non-customers. Any startup can do this.
In addition to serving as marketing tools, these resources also offer tips, tricks, and new information to your existing customer or user base. Don’t just tell your audience how great your product is–give them added value that they can take advantage of.
All-hands customer support
While people can generally watch violence in movies without issue, witnessing it in person often has much different, and more distressing, effects. This can sometimes lead to long-term psychological issues. hearing about customer stories, problems, and complaints from someone else is not the same as experiencing them yourself
The best way to create empathy for customers throughout an organization is to have everyone from the CEO to the intern do customer support on a regular basis. Each team member has time to interact with customers and get to know them better through conversation, which helps the team as a whole to understand customers more.
Companies such as Help Scout, Zapier, and Basecamp make it a priority for all employees to provide support.
Visit your customers IRL
There is no greater way to understand your customers then to see how they live their lives and how your product fits into their day-to-day routine. Having this empathy and closeness to your customer is invaluable.
In most cases, it is best for B2B companies to visit their customers’ offices. If you are a company that sells a lot of products, it is probably best to visit the home of the customer. If you’re a car company, it makes the most sense to drive around with your customer during their commute. Pick the appropriate context and go with it.
It’s important that team members visit customers when they travel for work.
There are some companies that will come to your house to provide service, like Intuit and Pinterest. If you’re a startup considering doing this, Close has some good advice.
Customer advisory boards (CABs)
A customer advisory board is a panel of your most valued customers who provide advice from a customer’s perspective. Industry forums are opportunities for reviewing trends, addressing mutual challenges and opportunities, and offering brutally honest insights and guidance.
CABs are used by Chrysler, IBM, and Wells Fargo.
A close connection between company leadership and your most valued customers is essential for a lasting and meaningful relationship. This source provides helpful information for establishing and operating successful CABs.
Ongoing customer development
Formal customer interviews give you the ability to turn customer conversations into accurate and reliable insights that everyone can use to maintain customer intimacy. This means that software companies that are constantly trying to improve their customer experience see 30% more annual revenue growth than those who don’t. Make sure that key people in marketing, growth, and product conduct (or at least sit in on) at least 10 customer development interviews every month. Need more guidance on talking to customers more formally? Check this out.
Customer events provide an opportunity for your company to connect with both existing and potential customers. Personal contact is the best way to build customer intimacy.
Customer events can be either physical or virtual, but the goal is always to bring customers together so they can socialize, network, and learn from each other. This means that the focus is not on the person speaking, but on the other person or people in the conversation.
Make sure to invite your customers to the event, but also give them the power to bring their colleagues and friends. In addition, reach out to any prospects in the area that might be interested. You could advertise on Meetup and Eventbrite to reach a wider audience. One of the most powerful ways to bring in new customers is to bring current and potential customers together. In his book Behind the Cloud, Marc Benioff reports that Salesforce had an 80% close rate on new prospects that attended one of their city tour events.
For most customers, the appeal of a meetup or event is the opportunity to meet other people like themselves. The more you make it easy for your customers, the more chances you’ll have to get to know them better. You can use these meetups to learn more about your customers, and to create a stronger connection with them.
If you have the money, try living in different cities. If you do not have the budget or do not yet have approval for the budget, then hold them in the city where the headquarters or a major office is located. If key team members are traveling to a specific city, host them there.
You can also host events that are mostly virtual with a small in-person component, but there’s nothing quite like the magic that happens when people meet face-to-face.
The most successful customer meetups have a presentation that is either led by a customer or by a speaker who is known and admired by your customers. Meeting and mingling with customers is essential for hosting successful customer events. While it is important for your company that employees take part in learning opportunities, it is even more important that customers have the opportunity to meet each other. This is likely the primary reason that customers visit your establishment. Make sure to set aside some time for mingling and networking at your event, and have easily identifiable product experts on hand to answer any questions attendees may have.
Host happy hours/brunches/fitness classes, etc.
Customer events with a less formal atmosphere might include organizing or sponsoring a happy hour. If you’re a consumer, maybe you can take a giant outdoor yoga class or have a lunchtime coffee break at a new art gallery. Make sure the event you are planning is on brand and that there is time for people to socialize.
Make sure that a good number of team members can attend the event, but be careful not to outnumber the attendees. This way, you can multiply the customer intimacy effect. This means that whatever you do, it should be in line with your company’s image and style. Keep it simple and straightforward. At SaaStr this year, Drift invited everyone to a pre-conference fitness class at Barry’s Bootcamp. Nikon shindigged it up at a happening NYC nightclub. Sephora routinely holds in-store events for their VIPs.
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