3 Customer Experience Tips for Marketers to Reduce Churn

Here’s the backdrop for our customer experience story. It takes most organizations months to onboard new employees to get them to full productivity. In fact, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, an effective onboarding program can take 12 months.

Here’s the backdrop for our customer experience story. It takes most organizations months to onboard new employees to get them to full productivity. In fact, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, an effective onboarding program can take 12 months. (Opens as a PDF)

Onboarding, defined on Wikipedia as “organizational socialization,” is the process by which employees gain the knowledge and skills to succeed at their jobs, and assimilate into the culture of the organization, becoming valued and contributing members of the “tribe.”

Without carefully planned and executed employee onboarding programs, employee attrition goes up, and so does corporate waste, as it costs about nine months of an employees’ salary to terminate and start over again.

This same principle applies to customer loyalty and the very high cost of losing even just one customer. Yet it’s hard to find “onboarding” programs for customers that are as robust as those for employees. Even with the cost of losing a customer being much higher than the loss of a middle management employee. When you lose a customer, you lose not just the cost of acquiring that customer, you lose the next transaction you were counting on, and you lose their entire lifetime value, which can be pretty substantial in the B2B world.

This is where a carefully concerted and executed customer experience becomes mission-critical to any businesses’ success. Interestingly enough, Qualtrics-owned Temkin Group, which conducts regular customer experience rating studies, shows that customers’ satisfaction with brand experiences is dropping. Those rating customers’ experiences as “good” or “excellent” has dropped to 38 percent, or 7 percent lower in 2018 than in 2017.

customer experience graph
Credit: Temkin Group

David Morris, CMO of Proformex, marketing advisor to Resilience Capital, and respected authority on SaaS marketing, has founded and led many businesses to exceptional growth by focusing on customer experience above all else. His mantra for success is really one simple step that if neglected could put any business out of business:

ONCE YOU GET A CUSTOMER, DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO FURTHER ENGAGE THEM.

This simple mandate seems like one of those no-brainers for most of you reading this article; yet, if you really did an audit of your business, you’d likely find, like most businesses today, that many of your team members are so focused on getting more and more customers to meet those sales quotas that they are not all that engaged with whom they just sold.

Per Morris, “We spend thousands of dollars and huge amounts of time marketing to customers, and in some cases, a year or more to convert a lead to a customer. And then we lose a customer in a matter of months. When this happens, you spend a lot more money getting customers than you get back in revenue, and that is not a sustainable way to operate a business.”

To stop the craziness and profit bleeding from the above cycle, Morris suggests some simple tactics to re-engage customers through experiences that create the kind of partnerships and added values that take competitors and price out of the equation.

Make Sure Your Customers Are Actually Using Your Product

Nothing kills customer satisfaction ratings like customers who have not gotten around to using the products you sell them. Again, this sounds obvious. But it’s not. Professionals often sign up for SaaS licenses, marketing tools, and systems that they don’t get around to using or put off when training becomes more timely than planned. And quite often, they never get around to telling you. So when it’s time to renew, they go elsewhere.

Utilize the Tool of Face Time

And Morris doesn’t mean online. Get out to your customers office, take them to lunch, talk about the weather, sport teams, your kids. Just get out there and establish some positive energy in real time. In a world where time is one of the most valuable assets we have, giving time to someone is often more valuable than anything tangible you can offer. Customer satisfaction goes up when customers feel they are appreciated, valued and recognized for their achievements, roles and needs. Spending “real time” in the “real” vs. digital world is one of the strongest methods for building long-term customer relations, as Morris teaches his staff and uses himself.

Establish Reciprocal Transparency

Ask customers the tough questions, suggests Morris. And his definition of tough does not include, “What is your budget,” or “How quickly can you buy?” Tough to him includes, “How are we doing? What can we do better? How do we compare to others you’ve used? And how do we need to change to earn your loyalty?” Its tough when someone points out your failures and shortcomings, but until you face them and buck up to change them, you cannot succeed in securing customer loyalty, and frankly many other areas of business and life, in general.

Conclusion

To succeed in business today, you must have a plan for a customer journey that addresses every step of the way, every touchpoint, and is aligned with KPIs across your business. Creating customer journeys and experiences that result in customer satisfaction is really a simple process, as Morris points out. The key is commitment. Get commitment to a consistent process, experience and outcome for every customer, every day, vertically and horizontally within your organization. Start small, grow big and enjoy long-lasting relationships that generate sustainable revenue streams and strong ROMIs.

‘Tis the Season … for Term Letters in Healthcare

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a year-end coverage termination notice. It’s particularly awkward this time of year, because it overlaps open enrollment for commercial, Medicare Advantage and Exchange members. In this column, we’ll look at five seasonal drivers within healthcare, and how marketers can prepare for term letters, open enrollment and more.

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a year-end termination notice. It’s not unusual for healthcare organizations engaged in contract negotiations to send term letters to patients in mid-November. The notices fulfill contractual and regulatory obligations to provide advance notice to patients while also ratcheting up the pressure to reach agreement before a January 1 effective date.

This would cause headaches for marketing and communication professionals under the best of circumstances, but it’s particularly awkward this time of year because it overlaps open enrollment for commercial, Medicare Advantage and Exchange members. This is just one of the external factors that creates seasonality in healthcare communications.

In this column, we’ll look at five seasonal drivers within healthcare and how marketers can prepare.

1. Termination Letters

Term letters are usually sent 45 days in advance of a contract’s renewal or end-date. While these can occur at any time, a common scenario is a termination letter sent by a health plan about six weeks before the end of a calendar year. The letter goes to patients of physicians/medical groups or hospitals covered under the contract in question.

In some cases, you may not know the term letters have gone out until you begin to receive frantic calls from patients wondering if scheduled appointments or procedures will be covered. This puts you in a terribly reactive situation.

Proactively, marketers should schedule quarterly meetings with their organization’s contracting department to discuss commercial, exchange and governmental agreements that are coming up for renewal. Your contracting team is likely to focus on the financial framework of the agreement, while your concern should be on how to manage the fear and uncertainty a potential disruption has on individual patients.

Coordination with your customer service team, as well as impacted physician practices, are also critical because they will be on the front line of inquiries. You will need to understand your state’s Continuity of Care guidelines, the terminating plan’s grace period (if any), and work cross functionally to help guide patients to in-network facilities or providers if the agreement ends.

This is a labor-intensive, detail-oriented process because of the number of potentially impacted people, and emotionally draining for the patient’s family. Communicate your awareness of the situation, provide updates often and be prepared for significant push-back and one-on-one problem solving.

2. Open Enrollment

Although open enrollment for major employers, general business, Medicare/Medicare Advantage and Exchange business differ, the main season occurs in the fall and early winter. Some organizations invest all their awareness efforts during this time, when in fact this is when you should be converting prospects based on the awareness, goodwill and brand desirability you’ve cultivated all year long.

The foundation for a successful open enrollment season is based, in part, on decisions made by upstream parties during the spring and summer. As 2018 approaches, be sure to build in strategies to reach large employers, brokers, physicians and health plans.

10 Elements of a Squeeze Page

For those of you who haven’t heard this term, a squeeze page is basically a short landing page with one main purpose — to “squeeze” the email address out of the visitor to that page.

10 Elements of a Squeeze Page
“10,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Paul Downey

For those of you who haven’t heard this term, a squeeze page is basically a short landing page with one main purpose — to “squeeze” the email address out of the visitor to that page.

In other words, it’s a promotional page with the goal of lead generation (or “list-building”).

Smart marketers like to balance their online mixes and do both direct-to-sale efforts (i.e. selling a product) along with list-building (i.e. lead gen) efforts.

But not all squeeze pages are created equal.

Some are very short and pithy, with a headline and call to action … more ideal for mobile phone viewing. While others have longer copy to convey the value proposition of why the prospects need to give their email addresses.

Your target audience, delivery platform, message, offer and other variables will determine which format you may want to test.

But generally speaking, over the many years I have been creating successful squeeze pages for both consulting clients and top publishers alike, I would have to say that I’ve noticed 10 key elements that help make a winning squeeze page and get conversions.

Here they are:

  1. Gets Your Attention. It’s very important for a good squeeze page to have a strong headline, coupled with an eye-catching masthead image. This is when good persuasive copywriting skills comes into play with creative design.
  2. The Offer. You need to show the reader why they need to sign up and give you their email address … WHAT are they getting out of it? Typically it’s some kind of bonus, such as a free .pdf report, free white paper, free e-newsletter … free something. And that freebie needs to answer a question the prospect may have, solve a problem and teach them something they don’t know. All of the bonus benefits and the value proposition need to be outlined in the body copy in a clear, easy-to-read format (usually bullets).
  3. Why Listen to You? It’s also important to briefly outline WHY the prospect should listen to you. What makes you the expert? Why you are uniquely qualified? In a paragraph or less, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself and your credentials to the reader. Again, strong copywriting comes into play here to persuade the reader that it’s imperative to hear what you have to say and give you their email address.
  4. Visually Appealing. Call-to-action buttons that are bright and catch your attention (i.e. orange, yellow, red), a thumbnail of a free bonus report, a starburst showing the $ value of the free report, a headshot of the expert, and other relevant graphic enhancements are great ways to keep the reader engaged and move the eye down the page.
  5. If you have testimonials that speak to your expertise, use quote boxes and add short, strong testimonials. One or two that have a “wow” factor are best.
  6. No Distractions. As mentioned earlier, squeeze pages have one simple goal: to collect an email address. So it’s important not to have other clickable links on the page or navigation. You want to keep the readers focused on only giving you their emails and clicking “submit.” Don’t have background noise.
  7. Contact Information. At the bottom of the squeeze page, I like to add a brick-and-mortar physical address of the business, as well as the business Web address — that’s un-clickable. If you have a BBB logo or other logo that represents an award, accolade or accomplishment, it helps adds prestige, authenticity and promotes consumer confidence.
  8. Legal Mumbo-Jumbo. It’s important to remember, especially if you’re in the health or financial publishing space, to add the necessary disclaimers specific for that industry. In general, you may want to add something along the lines of: “The information and material provided on this site are for educational purposes only.”
  9. Anti-Spam Pledge. Under the email collection fields and above the call-to-action button, it’s a best practice to add some anti-spam verbiage to alleviate any concerns to the reader that the email may be sold or rented. Some even have a text hyperlink to their privacy policy.
  10. The More You Ask, The Less You Get. It’s a general rule of thumb that for each information field you ask the prospect to give, i.e. first name, email address, etc., you will get fewer responders. Some people ask for mailing address, age and other demographic information. That will deter some prospects and dampen response. However, the ones who do answer have demonstrated a real interest and are more qualified than just visitors who gave their email. So think about your ultimate goal for the squeeze page when determining how much information you’re going to ask for.

The squeeze page is only the beginning.

A good, strategic list-building campaign will have many elements that all work together to get a prospect’s attention (the ad); get them to sign up (the squeeze page); help them bond with the guru or editor; become educated in the publication’s mission; and, ultimately, get the subscriber to convert to a buyer of a paid product.

This is called the onboarding process. And an effective onboarding process is the beginning of the sales funnel that should end with more voluminous conversions in a shorter time-frame than if you don’t have an onboarding process in place.

So evaluate your business. See how many leads (#) you’re bringing in on a monthly basis, at how much ($) per lead, and how quickly these leads are converting to buyers.

Then decide if squeeze pages and setting up an onboarding process are right for you.

Good luck and happy prospecting!

Customer Onboarding: My Moving Experience

Last weekend, I had one of those occasional experiences I used to avoid as much as possible. Yep, I moved. But I also learned about good onboarding.

Last weekend, I had one of those occasional experiences I used to avoid as much as possible.

All too often, it’s meant pain, screaming, panic, lots of money, and even a little foul language.

Yep, I moved.

In past moves, I’ve lost glasses, boxes of photos, and part of my CD collection.

This time, thanks to a lot of preparation, the only casualties were a few coffee mugs. Having professional help for the first time made a big difference.

I started the process a while ago.

USPS COA MailI filled out the USPS change-of-address form online. So I’m expecting to start getting all kinds of cool new mover mail any day now. Really, marketers, now would be a good time! For one thing, I could use a new couch. And a new place to take my car for an oil and filter change. C’mon, get to it!

But I also tried to be smart about planning my switch in services.

My biggest need is for Internet service; TV is secondary. Because the community I moved to mandates working with a specific company – Comcast – I made sure to reach out to them early. I wanted as little hassle as possible in selecting a plan and starting my service.

After a little phone tag with the company’s sales rep and learning about my options, I made my choices.

The first email arrived in minutes, thanking me for selecting my XFINITY service. Besides letting me set up an account name, it included a link that clicked through to an online “Welcome Guide.”

I also got an alternative way to access information: PDFs to review pricing, channel lineups, and contact information.

Later on in the day, I got a confirmation of my installation appointment. That was followed by a reminder 3 days later. In both cases, the intention was simply to help make the experience easier to get up and running by offering tips and eliminating steps.

Comcast emailAnd since the first milestone – installation – has been reached, I’ve received a few more emails.

One of them offers a refresher course on how to use the X1 Voice Remote. And to be honest, I needed to read that one. Besides easy-to-remember tips, there are multiple links for even more.

Another email goes into some detail on streaming via the company’s app on my phone. It isn’t an important feature, but who know … maybe I’ll think differently in a few months.

This is where there’s some real value in doing your onboarding well. Before, during the setup appointment, maybe I was just overwhelmed, or tired, or thought I knew it all. But getting reminders about the cool things I can do with this service actually makes me appreciate it more than I did before.

So, next on my list: where to get some good pizza!