In good times, it seems, word of mouth can work almost too well. If a small business has a great reputation and low overhead, selling services is still work, but it is manageable work. These days, companies who have relied on clients/customers finding them are in the position of scrambling harder, wondering how to go about this process the way the rest of us must – getting out there themselves and finding the work.
I’m addressing this post to those in business who not only talk about customer satisfaction, but have woven positive customer experience into the very fabric of your organization. These days, even you might not have potential clients banging down your door.
The good news is your fans are out there. The customers for whom you have delivered a great and rewarding experience, these folks are a contact away. They are not a “resource,” to be exploited (but you know that,) yet they do represent relationships you have cultivated and perhaps willing partners in guiding you to that next client. You probably know that, too.
The question is “How?” You want to honestly engage the help of your biggest, most loyal customers – but you don’t necessarily want to announce, “I’ll be belly up in two months if I don’t get a few new projects in the pipeline!”
Right now, I’m reading Satisfaction: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer by Chris Denove and James D. Power (yes both of J.D. Power and Associates.) This book is a few years old, but has some insight that stands the test of (two years 🙂 ) time. In addition to solid measurements of the impact of satisfaction on the bottom line (it matters-in a big way!) there is a chapter on fandom.
Fandom is becoming a bit of a buzzword, and in danger of becoming as slippery and potentially meaningless as “satisfaction.” But it seems to me that if you have a satisfied and loyal customer base, you’ve got fans. What you need more than anything is to understand their passion. I have a friend who realized he wasn’t just an electrician. He is a “lighting design specialist.” He loves lighting up an interior or exterior space to showcase the architecture, strike a range of moods, and generally enhance the heck out of the place. He attracts customers who understand what he’s doing and are in turn passionate about how lighting enhances the quality of their life – something most of us don’t give a second thought to. My friend knows his passion, and his very satisfied customers know how he’s helped them and now share his passion.
My point is your fans are out there. Make that contact, ask for their help, offer some rewards (some, honestly, will just be glad to be reminded and glad to recommend you w/out reward). But offer a reward anyway!
Join the rest of us in getting out there, and getting that new business!