Updated: Aug 15, 2020
You need a reference site. Or maybe you need quotes for your webpage and want to publish a success story. Or maybe you want the holy grail: a client to present on your behalf at an industry conference. Who do you call? If you're lucky, you have one or two on the list but I'm willing to posit that those one or two have been there and done that with you, ad nauseam.
I'm also willing to posit that if you're a SaaS business and the above is true, your NPS is lower than 26, your other clients are leveraging only a portion of the platform and they don't invite you in for demos of your 'new stuff'.
It's ok for the status quo but if you want to grow, you have to earn your Client's love.
The Net Promoter Score or NPS, as a measure of loyalty, is where to start. Loyal clients don't need to be persuaded to revisit your brand during buying decisions. Even better, according to Marketing Metrics (Farris, 2009), "businesses have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer while the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%." This is why I personally like cross-selling: I like the chances of actually making the sale.
So let's talk about how to earn client love.
Ten building blocks of lovability - Brian De Haaff in Lovability, 2017 "Hope, Satisfaction, Care, Confidence, and Trust are your foundation. You cannot have lovability without them. Scale, Sustainability, Motivation, Fun, and Halo are required to earn the kind of passion and lifelong loyalty achieved by the world’s top brands."
Let's start with De Haaff's concept of the foundation: Hope, Satisfaction (not the same as loyalty), Care, Confidence and Trust. I see many times where invoices go out incorrectly or are hard to read/understand, the system was only partially configured at live launch, and the client doesn't have a trusted advisor to guide them toward outcomes/success measures realized, all of which erode attempts to build the foundation.
There's good news here: it's ALL fixable but it requires care and attention.
1. If you don't have an NPS, get one. If you're a SaaS business, your target is >26. It's not a trophy, it's a guidepost and the commentary you can get out of it is equally important to the number. Create a feedback loop to make sure every client who gives feedback (positive and negative) is thanked and their comments are shared broadly in a usable way. The next time you ask for feedback, make sure your request indicates what you did with the last feedback you received. An example of this would be a message from the top executive saying something like 'Thank you to our clients for the feedback, it's how we'll become better partners. This is what we did with the last round of feedback you gave us: these are the enhancements we've made to the system, this is where we've changed some processes, and we've done x for our teams to make sure they're at their best with you." as part of the request for new feedback. It matters that you can articulate what you're doing with feedback if you want your clients to keep giving it.
2. Get your invoices right. I can't say this enough. Oh, and in addition to accurate, make them simple and intuitive.
3. Make sure the system is configured at live launch to achieve the mutually agreed success outcomes. Don't have those? Start defining mutually agreeable, best practice KPIs during the Sales cycle and consider making 'what success looks like' contractual.
4. Do what you say you're going to do, every time, without fail. If you're going to 'follow up later this week', follow up later this week. Even better, set a specific date and time frame. EX: Next Thursday by 2pm. You want to build trust? Start doing this.
5. Make sure your teams are creating meeting agendas that include expected outcomes . EX: "We are meeting to discuss X. These are the decisions that will need to be made. Attached is the relevant information. Here's who is attending and the topics we'll discuss". If these aren't part of your usual operating practice now with clients, start now by practicing internally but quickly start with clients. My teams knew that if there wasn't an agenda attached, they'd either hear from me or I'd decline. Harsh? Yes. Effective? Definitely. One last thing on this topic. Please please please change the subject line in the email invitation to the topic and remove "Zoom meeting 372951". Oh, and set the expectation that people actually OPEN the meeting invitation and read. *sigh*
6. When you know you need to meet with someone don't ask them to set up the meeting, just do it. If the meeting is with a client, call and ask them for availability or just send the invitation (with an agenda and expected outcomes!) and ask them to suggest alternate dates/time. Internally, make sure your teams know how to use the scheduling assistant function in Outlook. Personally, getting emails from colleagues asking when I'm available is frustrating and wasteful. Keep your calendar up to date.
You can do this. Lovability is a cultural thing. Make sure your teams are feeling the love and are set up to share the love. You'll earn the right to ask for feedback, references, and site visits. Your sales cycle will shorten. Your NPS will grow along with your ARR. None of it is fast, but all of it counts to building a scalable growth engine.
Call us. We can help you get started.