Your initial reaction is, I know my customers. What the heck are you talking about? Before you get too defensive consider how many referrals you get from your existing accounts. Especially the ones you consider to be your top 10%. OK, got the number in your head? Is it as many as you would like to get? No, then keep reading; I have something that will help you.
We all need additional customers to grow our businesses, and we all agree referrals from happy existing customers is an inexpensive way to do that. Yet, only about 25 – 30% of small businesses say they have a formal process to make it happen. Why is that? It’s usually because they don’t really know what their competitive advantage is, or how to communicate it to their prospects. The best way to do find out is to ask your existing customers 6 key questions. One caution: if you want really honest answers, have a third party do this. Even really good customers will tend to tell you what they think you want to hear.
- What made you decide to buy from us in the first place? This will give you a great baseline and help you understand how effective your advertising, messaging, and lead conversion processes are working. You will also find out about how your company culture is perceived.
- What’s one thing we do better than other companies you do business with? This is the question that will be hardest to get specifics. But, you will need specifics to uncover what separates you from the competition – your differentiator. Look for words and phrases that come up over and over again. Even if they might appear to be minor to you. What your customers value most about you should become part of your core marketing message.
- What’s one thing we could do to create an even better experience for you? What you are looking for here is when your customers can point out an innovation you haven’t considered. This may require a little prodding and pushing, but what you get could be golden.
- Do you refer us to others, and if you do, why? This is the ultimate test of satisfaction. A positive truthful answer means that your customer likes the product/service you offer. If they don’t refer you, then you need to know why not. That could lead you to more areas needing improvement. And when you really get things right, you get Real testimonials like this. Nicole’s personal review for stylewe.com. The ultimate kudos!
- What search terms would you ‘Google’ to find a business like ours? If you want to become successful at being found online, you need to know all you can about what terms and phrases your customers enter in the search bar when looking for companies like yours. Those are very likely to be what your prospects are also entering. Do not optimize your web site around what you ‘think’ they are looking for, but what they are actually looking for.
- What other companies do you do business with and love to refer? When you start making a list of these companies you will soon have a good list to target as strategic partners. These are companies that don’t compete with you but sell to the same type of companies you do. They can become great partners in exchanging information and leads.
Once you have answers to these questions you are ready to develop a core marketing message that highlights what differentiates you from your competitors. And, it came from your very best source – you existing top customers. What could be better than that?