We all know that keeping an existing customer is less expensive than trying to gain a new one. But how do you turn a new customer into a repeat customer? How do you reduce churn and get your customers to renew their subscriptions? What does it take to turn a customer into an advocate and generate referrals for your business?
It all comes down to delivering an outstanding customer experience.
What is customer experience is and why it matters?
Before we get into what constitutes a good customer experience, we first have to define what customer experience is. Our resident customer experience expert and mentor, Bob Mathers, said customer experience is any part of your business that your customers can potentially interact with. "Customer experience is a pretty massive umbrella. SEO can be customer experience. Design strategy is customer experience. Sales and marketing are customer experience. It's the impression that you give to your customers with every single action interaction of your brand."
As a founder, the right time to start thinking about your customer experience is from day one of starting your business. Mathers said that customers buy based on a feeling of hope, but they stay based on the experience they have with your brand.
As a founder, you need to keep multiple customer touchpoints front of mind while developing, testing, and launching your product:
How will you engage key stakeholders at each stage of their customer journey?
What will customers feel about your brand when they see your website or social media channels?
What is your onboarding, signup, or purchase flow?
What messaging do you send your prospects and customers?
How are you creating a community with your customers?
"Customer experience is how you deliver on your brand's value proposition," added Mathers. Defining your customer experience helps you remove friction and provide value at every interaction with your customers.
Customer experience can help refine your product.
There's a natural inclination when you're a passionate founder to be very inwardly focused. Mathers said this is common, especially when founders want to get their product polished before showing it off to potential customers. But developing your product without early customer feedback can lead you down the wrong path. You could potentially create something that won't resonate with your market.
Talking to customers and asking questions that you don't want the answers to can help you identify problems early on. "You want people to tell your baby isn't as beautiful as you thought it was," said Mathers.
Differences in customer success for B2B vs. B2C
Whether we're talking about B2B or B2C, the same definition holds true. You need to ensure that every part of your business that can potentially be interacted with by your customers represents your brand and adds value to the customer.
In B2B SaaS companies, the interactions are being introduced into sales and marketing as a way to prove how we'll deliver on the ROI we've promised. Your sales process could include pilot projects, proof of concept projects, and other time-intensive interactions through to signing the customer. "You need to know how you are going to deliver on what you promised," said Mathers. "Then make sure that you've structured your customer experience so the customer will grow with you."
In B2C startups, the focus is on removing friction and delivering value through online interactions. This can include integrating chatbots, automated email campaigns, and other marketing tools to connect with your future customers. "You really have to work to reduce the number of steps to manage your customer through their journey.," Mathers added.
Respecting your customers' time
It's not only a matter of having the right touchpoints – but you also need to make sure you're adding value with those interactions. One of the most tried and trusted channels of customer experience are newsletters. Email marketing platforms such as HubSpot, MailChimp, and ActiveCampaign provide your startup with easy-to-use tools to send newsletters to your customers. But creating content that your customers want to read and find value in can be another challenge. "We're always very inclined to think about what we want to tell customers, but how are you going to make your newsletter unique and that delivers something really valuable to them," Mathers said.
Creating a great newsletter takes a profound understanding of your customer. Your customers have more on their minds than your product, so you want to ensure you include content that means something for them – along with your message on what your product can do for them.
If your newsletter includes three pieces of content, two of them should be about your customers, their peers, or colleagues. When you promote a customer's success, other customers and prospects will want to see themselves having the same success – and that success comes from using your product.
The Role of Customer Success
As a founder, your focus is split on multiple parts of your business. You need to keep an eye on revenue. You're working with your sales and marketing team as they do research, engage customers, and work to gain traction in the market.
With sales and growth, you need to remember to refine your customer experience to reduce the amount of time and the cost of attracting new customers. One of the ways to reduce your cost of acquiring new customers and time to close new customers is to create vocal advocates for your product. "This is one of the biggest impacts that customer success can make to driving new business" said Mathers.
The function of customer success as an individual and a team is relatively new. Mathers suggested that the function has been around for somewhere between five to eight years. "It really came out of the subscription economy," added Mathers. "Where all of a sudden, consumers had all the power. They could leave whenever they wanted for no reason. That puts all the onus on you as the founder to deliver the value that you said, because if you don't deliver on your promises, people will leave and that churn will kill your business."
Build customer experience into your company DNA
In our last post, we talked about the importance of building intellectual property strategy into your business from day one. When it comes to customer experience, the same advice holds. Mathers recommends focusing on these four things:
1. Obsess over the customer problem
You're a founder, and you believe in your product. But the focus should be the customer's problem, not your product. As a founder, you need to go out and talk to as many people. You're not going to like everything you hear – it can even be uncomfortable, but it's the right thing to do. "We've got some founders who are brilliant engineers who describe themselves as introverts, so going out and talking to people isn't something that comes naturally to them,” said Mathers. “But you've got to do that or you've got to have somebody on your team that really enjoys talking to people."
2. Share with your team.
Gathering feedback is just the beginning. Sharing that feedback throughout your team helps bring potential problems to light early. "When you're three people, it's easy to share that information," added Mathers. "But as you start scaling, making sure that sharing is woven into the way that the founders act and communicate is important." Customer feedback – positive and negative – helps drive the changes needed for long-term success.
3. Understanding customer value
One of the goals of customer experience is to turn a customer into an advocate. Happy and unhappy customers often share a common trait – they're vocal. Unhappy customers allow you to refine your product or service to turn them from a detractor into a promoter. Happy customers are there to be nurtured into advocates.
Mathers advised that you can't lose sight of the ones who don't make any noise – good or bad. "The worst is when you have people that don't bother to tell you anything," said Mathers. "They won't bother to tell you when they're not happy, they'll just leave like, so that's why you really got to keep a keen eye on customer health." One recent article noted that only one in 26 customers would complain. The remaining 25 will stop using your product or service.
4. Get your team involved in journey mapping.
One of the best things Mathers can recommend is involving your entire team with customer journey mapping exercises. The goal is to have customers for life, but what your customers need changes over time. Involving everybody in mapping the customer journey works because it brings different experiences to the table and exposes biases about what you think is essential to customers. Mathers said that if you haven't talked about it and written it down, you won't have the same definition of your customer experience.
Customer experience at the Accelerator Centre
Joining The Accelerator Program® provides you access to mentors like Mathers and a community of founders on the journey of scaling their businesses. Accelerating you through that journey means test things, failing, learning, getting up, and doing it all over again. We help you learn as quickly as possible, change as soon as possible, and grow your business.
The proof is in our network. Accelerator Centre clients and alumni represent some of Canada and the world's biggest startup brands – we're ready to help you. Apply today!
Want to learn more about CX? Check out this exclusive webinar designed specifically for AC clients.