While the most cost-effective method of customer acquisition is capturing a repeat customer, in the innovation economy that second sale is paramount. The second sale validates the marketplace, and moves you one step closer to broad market penetration. It is the catalyst to moving from selling to early adopters to selling to a larger, mass market.
Economics drove the shift away from live customer support to customer self-service frequently-asked questions. Poll any user group and it’s likely that inability to speak with a live person negatively impacts perception of the product, service, and/or company. And while economics also drove global companies to outsource call centers to countries with the lowest labor costs, many companies shifted back to domestic in-house support because of the impact on customer service and more importantly on the bottom line. In the innovation economy, shifting customer service out of house in any form eliminates the most important source of data and feedback from which to make a repeat sale – customers!
The key to capturing repeat customers is delivering great customer service. Any company can deliver an innovation to market, even some not-so-innovative solutions, but companies that focus on customer service, and providing a outstanding experience when dealing with the company will get customers coming back to them again and again.
Innovators need to understand this is not just related to a great product experience. How was the customer handled when they placed their order, did the shipment arrive on time, did someone solve an initial problem and the follow up to be sure the customer was happy? As much as its critical that the innovation deliver value in excess of promised results, all of the elements of delivering that value impact repeat business.
It is also critical that the founder, CEO, lead innovator in the company be visible, be public and be the best sales person in the company. If you have ever flown on Virgin Airlines, for example, you may well have had the privilege of having Sir Richard Branson bring you coffee. He does it a lot. He asks customers about the customer service, ticketing procedure, planes, etc. He takes a personal role in and is clearly seen publically as leading the customer service effort. As a result, Virgin has enjoyed industry leading repeat customer sales.
- Creating Critical Mass: Starting a Movement
- Monthly Recurring Relationships
- FAQs vs CSRs
- Facilitating Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- Rolling out the Product Roadmap
image credit: current360.com
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Ken Smith, Business Plan Reviewer and Start-up Coach for Springboard Enterprises, served as Co-chair of CEO Service Committee for the MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge; and is the author of the start-up resource guidebook Selling Innovation