The tools of inbound marketing are most often talked about for attracting new prospects and converting them into customers. However, these methods can be used for the equally important activities of customer satisfaction and retention. Brent Leary, an authority in the emerging Social CRM industry recently compiled insight and expertise from 15 customer experience leaders across all industries in a new ebook The Social Contract.
Lessons for Leveraging Inbound Marketing for Customer Retention
- Customer Care is the New PR & Marketing - In fact Chris Brogan and Julien Smith of Trust Agents fame stated that customer care is the new PR, while Sanjay Dholakia of Lithium said that it is the new marketing. I think they are both on to something. Whether you want to call it word-of-mouth marketing or an extension of social media marketing, it is crystal clear that customers WILL share their opinions about you. The opinions, good or bad, that customers share about your product or brand do more to shape the market’s perception of your company than almost any marketing you could do. And the web provides them endless forums to share: blogs, Twitter, Facebook and countless interest based sites and forums.
- Customer Service & Marketing Should Work Together More – “Never before have customer service professionals been in a position to be directly seen and heard by their customers and the C-level executives. These comments are a permanent record of what customers think about your company. Can’t take them down, delete them or destroy them. And you can’t pretend any longer that they don’t exist. They do,” expanded Dr. Natalie Petouhoff of Forrester Research. Never before has there been more transparency about product and service quality – making it more likely that only ‘good’ offerings will thrive. Perhaps this also means that the relationship between marketing and customer care should be one that is cultivated with greater care. These two teams are far too often silo’d but can greatly benefit from intense collaboration.
- Solve Product & Service Fundamentals Before you Launch Social Media Initiatives – “The thing that organizations need to realize is that, although engaging with customers via social media channels can provide very real benefits, it is not going to remove – or for that matter even mask – problems with an organization’s level of customer commitment, the quality of actual products/services, or the efficacy of a company’s post-sales customer-service and support processes.” John Burton SAP‘s Director of Product Management in the CRM organization highlights the downfalls of jumping in with two feet before looking to see if the pool is full. His lesson is on point, whether you are in marketing or customer service – without a clear value proposition, tweeting for marketing will only make folks more confused, just as opening up a Facebook page for customers who are dissatisfied is a misappropriation of resources. First work with customers to fix the basics and then use social media to engage in ongoing dialog that can keep making it better and develop loyalty.
- Empower Customers to Become Part of the Service or Marketing Equation - Ellen Filipiak, SVP of Customer Care at DIRECTV, shares how forums and customer engagement have not only made dents in the direct cost of customer care, but how they engage with users to uncover new needs and get folks willing to test new features on their behalf. In fact, on DIRECTTV’s self-service help forums a group of only 8 volunteer customers provides 28% of the FAQ responses. It is these same users who get early access and are spreading the gospel about DIRECTTV. The ability to interact and the empowerment with information and tools is an excellent customer care and marketing vehicle.
- No Matter the Purpose, Authenticity and Personal Relationships Trump Technology – Another cable customer service expert, Frank Eliason of Comcast reiterated that it is about the relationship. “…the basics of Customer Service are invaluable in this space. One that I learned early on is personalization. We would never answer a call with ‘XYZ company, what do you want?’ We identify ourselves. That is why my team members each have their own Twitter ID and can personalize it as they see fit.” Luckily for marketers, there are a number of ways to interact in social media forums on behalf of your company while also identifying yourself as an individual. This best practice will be around as long as humans have personalities and feelings – which I for one, hope is a very long time.
Inbound Marketing Takeaways
- Inbound marketing spans the entire organization. Share tools and best practices across departmental boundaries.
- Ask yourself what you as a marketer can learn from your customer organization about developing authentic and meaningful relationships that span physical and digital realms.
- Practice authenticity in your marketing as if you were a customer care professional with a long term relationship with that prospect – even if you are tasked primarily with ‘bringing the leads’ you should set up a long term relationship for your whole company to win and retain the best customers.
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Social CRM: Lessons for Retaining Customers with Inbound Marketing