Customer Service is The New Marketing
One of the most important elements of Flickr's early success was its incredible engagement with its users. Flickr management spent what might have seemed like a totally unreasonable amount of time welcoming new users to the site, participating actively and promptly in forums and highlighting the best photos uploaded.
That kind of engagement can turn passing early adopters into ongoing community stakeholders and advocates. It's something that any startup could benefit from emulating and a role we're seeing formalized in an increasing number of companies hiring community liaisons.
I recently wrote a guest post on Aaron's ColdCalling2.0 blog talking about how happy and successful customers are the best inbound sales lead generation strategy:
Referrals & Brand Searches - Your best marketing is happy customers. In my previous company, after a few years of working at it, 100% of my business came from referrals. Customers have the ability to sell your services for you because they have little to no selfish interest in you bringing on new clients. So, when they recommend your product or service to a peer, they're not only establishing that you're credible, but trustworthy. The trust implicit in their relationship with the prospect they're referring is transferred to you.
There's an old saying that says it's hard to predict referrals. It's also expensive to build a brand (although fairly easy to measure brand awareness). However, I'd argue that if you're doing the right things for your clients and you're truly a stand for their success, it will happen. On the web, you can accelerate the pace by entering the conversation, setting the precedent for receiving referrals by giving them and by generally making yourself available to speak with new people whether there's an immediate direct connection between their need and your service or not. Practically speaking, I recommend starting a blog and reading these tips on using a blog to improve your sales process and how to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website.
What are you doing to:
- ensure your clients' success?
- refer business to your clients?
- facilitate connections between your clients who'd benefit from knowing each other?
- give your clients the tools to talk about you to their contacts online?
- ensure that your clients are referring people to you online and these referrals are receiving vip treatment?
- acknowledge the customers that refer you business?