When starting to write this blog I thought about a couple different titles:
DRAFT TITLE 1: When good marketing goes bad!
But trying to get the scary music to coincide with you reading the title was too much trouble.
DRAFT TITLE 2: Admit it, your support processes suck.
Um, probably the most accurate, but probably a bit too blunt. Even for me.
One of my current clients is realizing this the hard way. And even worse correcting it is proving to be a brutal task for all of us.
Here’s the situation: We overhauled their website and launched some social media and their sales process is working great. (Yes, I’m really good. I’m also humble.) They’ve added a couple of outbound call campaigns to highly targeted lists that are generating results. That’s what we all hope for right? Generating and qualifying leads is generally considered the crux of marketing and sales projects.
Here’s where things break down: without giving too much away (I’m good, but no one wants to work with a gabby marketing consultant) this is a high-touch category, so while they’re generating multiple leads, their operational processes simply aren’t built to pull the leads thru the closing and support pipeline, which will cost them on the retention end.
My client realizes that the hardest part isn’t finding and qualifying leads but delivering on the services promised during the sales process.
Shortsighted marketing efforts would call the lead generation a success, but truly agile marketing measures the process all the way through and builds in constant process improvement. Here are some common places where your processes may be failing:
- Getting leads but failing to close deals. There honestly could be several reasons for this, but we’ll focus on making sure that your leads get handed off cleanly. If you’ve got someone making initial contact, like my client, and someone else who actually presents and closes the deal you have to make sure this is seamless. It also is a good time to make sure you have the right marketing and communication materials to support whatever your process is. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Closing deals but failing to retain customers. This one will go hand in hand with number 3 where I’ll talk about angry customers (which will quickly lead to number 4.) For this one, think about those customers that just quietly fade away. You may not even realize it for a year, or two, or more. Probably because they believe they didn’t matter to you and if you didn’t notice they were gone, they were probably right.
- Spending costly amounts of time addressing customer service issues. Angry customers cost you a lot of money. They take up your team’s valuable time on the phone ranting about how upset they are. To assuage them you give them something free which costs money or resources. Sure, you can’t make everyone happy, and I’m a firm believer in firing a customer if needed, but if you see trends in your customer service issues, there’s probably an underlying operational process that needs to be tightened up.
- Battling your reputation in the eyes of customers. When an upset customer leaves, they normally don’t do it quietly. Everyone I know can name at least three companies that they will never, ever, ever do business with again (SWA I’m looking at you.) They then proceed to tell anyone who will listen exactly why. Now instead of getting the valuable referral, you’ve lost a potential customer that you never even had contact with.
The way to fix this isn’t overly complicated, but it does require regular oversight and consistent process improvement. Put measurements in at every milestone. When customers fall out of the lead generation process, you should try to find out why. When they fail to renew or become repeat customers, you want to do what you can to either bring them back but to keep other customers from following them out the door.