Success! You’ve made a sale. Your work is done… Ummm… Actually, no. It’s not.
Many organizations and individual marketers seem to agree that measuring customer experience is a good way to ensure repeat business. However, that requires address the customer experience after the purchase, not just before the purchase. Why? Because, for the buyer, how well the implementation, support, and usage works out is all part of the experience they have with that product or service. That’s why the buying cycle that is currently sweeping across the marketing landscape has so many steps after the customer actually buys a product or service.
I’ve worked at several software as a service (SaaS) companies so I’m a little biased towards ensuring positive post-purchase customer experience (since revenue at SaaS companies get revenue based on usage). However, the data shows a critical connection between customer satisfaction and revenue for all types of companies. In fact, the most successful organizations generate 75% of their revenue from existing customers and even average companies generate 45% from existing customers. This means that a low likelihood of repeat purchase translates into a huge problem for the organization and the marketer.
However, a buyer might have any number of reasons not to have positive feelings after the purchase, including buyer’s remorse. That’s why organization’s need to keep marketing to these customers to ensure they don’t. A person who regrets purchasing from you – or even has nothing bad or good to say about you because you left such a non-impression – is not likely to purchase again.
Yet, despite this perfectly logical logic, virtually every day I encounter smart marketers who think they can just hand off to sales at the purchase stage and feel like their job is done. Similarly, some of the organizations they work for just optimize processes, staffing, technology, and all sorts of other parts of a marketing transformation to support campaigns that target new customers. Yes, “white space” tactics like advertising are super sexy. But the cost of acquiring a new customer versus retaining an existing customer are 5-25 times greater, according to Harvard Business Review, than up-selling or cross-selling to your existing base of installed customers.
What’s better, sexy marketing or cost-effective marketing? It’s the age old question – and not one that you have to answer. You can be super creative with customer retention programs. In fact, depending on your audience, you must be super creative. I’ve created programs in two separate organizations to up-sell and cross-sell to existing customers, including customer who also happen to be the world’s top marketers, and I can tell that unsexy retention efforts will go over about as well as getting your Significant Other a new dishwasher for his or her birthday instead of something shiny and totally impractical.
At the very minimum, you have to ensure your marketing transformation includes a smooth hand-off between pre-sale content from the marketing realm to purchasing process leaders (i.e., sales, finance, legal, etc.) so the customer never feels like he or she has been “handed over” to someone else. Remember, from their perspective, they’re just interacting with one, monolithic brand in a single client journey. That means collaborative software that allows both internal departments to see the content and interactions being planned by each department. That also means you have to ensure that they both have equal access to and understanding of the target buyer persona and tools to coordinate their responses.
Just like you did with the hand-off to sales, ensure that the implementation (if implementation is part of your product/service’s process) and support teams are aware of who they are dealing with (namely, the target buyer persona) and collaboration software. Make life a little simpler for all these non-marketers and consider steps marketing can take at each stage of the buying cycle after purchase to build a long term relationship with the buyer. For example, as soon as the purchase is complete, can you create and send out “welcome to our brand” email to show gratitude for the purchase, advise that the implementation team (if necessary) will be contacting the buyer soon, and explain how to access customer support and other benefits?
Just be sure to define roles and responsibilities to ensure that milestones (such as marking the actual moment of purchase) and processes are well defined, otherwise non-marketers – who often feel they should “own” certain post-purchase stages – might resist some of these changes. One way to get their cooperation might be to share the idea that marketing is too important to be left to just marketers and that their support is crucial to the organization’s success in generating future revenue from these customers. Keep using your marketing automation software to personalize this and other interactions.
I’ll leave activities and issues related to the Loyalty Stage for another post since it’s such a big topic all by itself. You’ve already walked through the first – and hardest – part of the process, namely understanding that marketing has changed and that the purchase is just half the battle. Now you just have to ensure that you implement these ideas in your transformation.
Comments are welcome, especially if you have examples of how your organization builds a relationship with buyers after the purchase.