I have a secret to share that may be surprising.
Though automotive folklore insinuates that Henry Ford would only allow his world-beating Model T to be painted in black, you could, in fact, purchase your new horseless carriage in a variety of colors, including blue, red, gray, and green.
So as early as 1908 – the year the first Model T was shipped – a customer could distinguish their tastes and flaunt their individuality on America’s roads in a hue that was different from the pack.
I was reminded of this story as I observed some of the marketing efforts being thrown about in this post-digital-transformation/COVID-touched marketplace we find ourselves in. Though all the tools exist to customize marketing efforts like the colors of the rainbow, there’s a LOT of black paint being thrown around out there.
Caught in the crossfire is a class of customer we’ll call the VIP customer. Someone who, through purchase history or buying signals, knows your product well and has the potential to be a long-time patron. But in the mad scramble to bombard the market with louder messaging, many companies have eschewed the opportunity to segment, or elevate, their customers properly.
This results in a load of wasted resources, scattershot marketing methods – and the potential to alienate that VIP who just wants to be recognized. And, by the way, if you didn’t know this already, VIPs are your lifeblood: The “loyal-est” customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company.
In my most recent blog, I shared some insights from a discussion with leadership and performance strategist Traci Phillips – known as “The Innate Coach” -- that pointed to quality core messaging as a technique to cultivate superior leads.
But all the money invested in high-impact arrows is nothing if you don’t have the bullseye in clear focus.
“We do tend to take for granted the people who know us and talk about us – those who might even bring us new business,” Traci said. “But today’s VIP client is looking for a different tier of experience from me because they feel they’ve invested in us. That’s why it’s critical to reciprocate their loyalty.”
It all starts with an understanding of why the best customers are there to begin with – and what compels people to go elsewhere. Again, this is where the “black paint” approach can be a killer. In my experience there are two ways tell if a business is forsaking their VIPs:
Without this knowledge or feedback, there’s just no way you can nurture clients, much less VIP types, effectively!
Here’s an example of what I mean: Let’s say that a customer that billed $1 million in 2020 ended up billing $1.5 million in 2021. The lazy approach is to believe, “they love us!” But what of the story behind the order? Why did they increase their order? Is this a trend? Or did they do it because, in the face of supply chain issues, you just happened to have what was needed in inventory?
If these valuable clients aren’t feeling the “love,” they are likely to vote with their feet once the supply chain issues are resolved. That’s why it’s vitally important to track customer satisfaction – using real data, and real analysis, to gain a sense of their mindset. Just the act of asking great customers about their experiences goes a long way in reassuring them that you have their best interests at heart. And that you want to provide the very best customer experience for them.
In addition to measuring satisfaction, there are ways you can reward VIPs, such as:
Finally, understand the value of these VIPs as a “force multiplier” – for good OR for evil. Everyone shares their experiences with friends and neighbors, review sites, social media – you know the drill. Your customers will amplify where you have gone above and beyond, and where you have fallen short.
Do you have a program in place to measure and nurture your best customers? In this day and age, it’s mission critical to your company’s success, so if you need any help developing insights around customer satisfaction, please feel free to reach out.
About Traci Phillips:
As an Executive Leadership and Performance Coach, Traci Philips is a trusted adviser to top-performing corporate and entrepreneurial visionaries. She supports her clients to understand and honor their unique genius, needs, methods and principals and to practice better communication, resolution strategies, decision-making and leading during times of change and when the stakes are high.