Trust networks and social proof can mean the difference between staggered growth and long-term business success.
Potential customers share their experiences with your company with their friends, co-workers, and inner circles through social media, in-person conversations, and tradeshows. Understanding the connectedness of our society can help you think about implementing a plan that borrows from the viral nature of interpersonal relationships and communication.
Think about all the possible ways to grow your business and add new customers to your pipeline. Prospects' engagement with companies has drastically changed in the last ten years. Potential customers rely on customer reviews, and now more than ever, information from peers in their inner circle and circles of influence.
Now more than ever, customers expect you to provide an easy, seamless relationship.
Consider a prospective customer who has a bad experience with a salesperson or customer support. A negative experience can trigger a negative online review on Facebook, Google Reviews, Angie, Home Advisor, or Yelp. All it takes is one negative experience to undermine countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears that helped build your company.
Consider a prospect who has a bad experience with your company at a trade show; it’s a networking environment; what information will they spread to that network? We don’t often consider the impact of a single negative customer experience, the viral nature of how it can spread to others, and how that can impact your company in ways we might not see.
Buyer personas cluster. Your ideal customer probably hangs out with or has social interactions with other ideal customers based on social status, shared activities, or community engagement.
We live in a connected world; when we sit down for a casual dinner with friends, we talk about what TV shows we like, new apps that we find helpful, books we have just read. Sometimes we share an experience about a company we like. Informal opportunities like this happen every day. We share both positive and negative experiences with our connected network.
You need more than just one positive recommendation that something is worth trying or buying for your company to go viral. For your company to realize the benefits of viral behavior, you need several brand ambassadors to interact with a prospective customer. You need to create the feeling that it's common knowledge that your company is exemplary.
The idea that you need social reinforcement from several people to convince you to adopt something means that you need networks that create a reinforcing influence from peers.
I can attest, from personal experience, to the viral effect of positive experiences with customers. ClickPoint initially grew our business almost entirely on word of mouth. In other words, customers who had a positive experience talked about us with their networks, resulting in a steady pipeline of customers we never targeted, had any previous connection to, and otherwise would have never had the opportunity to engage with. Immediately after industry trade shows, we started noticing a causal impact on our lead funnel and ultimately interested customers.
Brand ambassadors influence potential customers by sharing their positive experiences at trade shows without us even being there. The more ambassadors vouched for our company and shared their positive experience, the more interest we garnered as social proof became evident to potential customers.
This viral mindset should not replace building a repeatable sales process, but it can help growth-focused companies find additional customer opportunities they hadn’t considered. And it will help build brand awareness that is essential for long-term growth.
5 Tips for Improving How Your Company Can Benefit from Viral Activity
Think About Customer Journey from Marketing through Onboarding
Alignment with marketing, sales, onboarding, and service is critical. Every experience a prospect has at each stage of their journey, from first learning about your company to engagement with sales and the handoff to service, must be consistent. If you promote yourself as a customer-focused company, you can’t have service representatives or technicians providing bad customer experiences. As customers interact with your company, their experience should align with what they expected when they first heard about your product or service.
Take Customer Support Seriously
No matter the vertical you are in, nothing helps create a positive outcome for prospective customers, like feeling that what they purchased is backed up by excellent customer support. Excellent customer support starts with a culture that embraces results for your customers rather than a focus on task completion. Your customer support members and technicians should communicate with customers, leaving them feeling understood, listened to, and appreciated.
Implement A Customer Follow Up Plan
Customer support doesn’t end when a new client receives your product or service. In highly successful teams, there is an understanding that support continues post-purchase. There should be a check-in with customers to ensure they are satisfied. You can use surveys, NPS scores, or even something as simple as an email or call to ask if they are happy with their experience with your company.
Nothing makes a new customer feel better about their purchase than showing a little gratitude. Showing gratitude could be as simple as sending the customer a thank you email, thank you note, or holiday gift that lets them know you are grateful for their business.
Listen to Customer Feedback
Listening to what your customers have to say about their experience with your sales team, your product, or the service they received is invaluable. Resist the urge to get defensive about the feedback you get; if a customer is unhappy about a step in their journey with your company, you should listen without getting defensive. No matter how upset they may be, customers can provide you with vital information about improving and prevent future customers from having negative experiences.
When you think about marketing your product or service, it’s helpful to think about how you can drive interested customers to your company with a viral mindset.
Long-term brand strategies should consider how customers will interact with your company, how they feel about your brand, and how to deliver on the promise made by your marketing and sales pitch.
By thinking about a long-term strategy of building a customer-centric culture, you can benefit from the business you never knew existed and build a sustainable customer funnel that will help you scale your business.