Returning Customers – Elusive, Impossible, or Normal?

Returning Customers?

Returning Customers?

There’s always an emotional rush when you acquire new customers. They’re “taking a chance on you” and you have that all-important opportunity to make that first, and hopefully lasting, impression.

So THAT happens…..

So why don’t some first-time customers come back? This is a very important nut to crack for your business, especially since it’s always cheaper and more effective to nurture current customers than it is to have to always spend the resources needed to provide a steady stream of new customers instead. While there may be any number of reasons, four stand out:

  1. Early problems sour the relationship.
  2. You have no formal servicing system.
  3. There is communication breakdown with the decisions makers.
  4. It is easy for your customer to return to your competitor.

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What Do Your Customers Think?

Happy Customers

Happy Customers!

Got customers?

Then you are interested in what they think of you, since that will drive not only whether they purchase your product or service, but other things, too. Like:
  • What do think of your product  / service?
  • Will they buy again?
  • How will you know what they think unless they tell you?
  • What kind of review will they give you (on-line or off-line)?
  • What kind of influence will their experience have on how others think of you?

The basic ideas behind Customer Experience (or CX as it has come to be known) have been around for awhile. Think about when you walk into an office or a store of some kind. The initial impression of location, attractiveness, and the employees’ attitude towards you all contribute to the CX. It could be all over the place as to your experience, but that was, and is, a huge part of it In Real Life (IRL, for those of you who like acronyms…).

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“Help Me Fix It!”

Help Me

Help Me!

“Can you help me fix it?”

Almost all my initial conversations with customers are summed up in this one heart-felt plea. The long answer is usually, “Yes!”

That’s the long answer…the one that gets backed up by varying degrees of, “But first we need to….” Sometimes that slows down the enthusiasm a bit. They are happy to know that it can be fixed, but put off by the amount of work it will take, the time until the results they are looking for show up, the part of the process and collaboration in which they will need to invest, and the cost, whether it is time, hours of work, or money.

If it was simple and easy, not only would everyone else have done it (“I just want to be able to sell my products and make a really good living.“), but it would likely result in a pretty mediocre solution (“Well, we kind of fixed that problem, but I didn’t realize all the other inter-connected parts to the business and what we’re trying to do…so really, I’m not so sure we fixed much.“) that might actually harm the business.

Here’s an example:

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FOCUS: What About Customer Experience and Relationships?

Visitors Audience Customers Community

On the lookout for…?

“Relationships?! How do you do that when your business is all about selling boxes of widgets? Folks come to my site, order them and I ship them out…”

This is a common question. You have always viewed your company as one that makes something that others buy (hopefully more than once…), and then you make sure they get it. Pretty much the definition of “transactional”, and, especially if you operate an e-commerce site, you only know them by a name, address and order number. It doesn’t look like the opportunities to establish and grow a relationship, as you’re thinking of it, are that ripe.

…or are they?…

I’ve written before about a descriptive construct I call the VACC. It stands for Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community. There are different ways of looking at the people who interact with your business: The Customer Journey, the Sales Funnel, and so on. Viewing these people through the VACC lens focuses on the stage of the relationship they have with you business, and how you communicate and interact with them. Each stage is valuable and there is no hard line dividing them. Nonetheless, knowing, in greater depth, what each set of these people are looking for, how they act and react to you and your business, what their expectations are, and how you can communicate with them is vital to your business growth. Not knowing is the same as tossing your product out on to a virtual (or real…) sidewalk and hoping the right folks come by.

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Last Chance: Spotlight the Superior January Posts

 January is nearly over!

You have already done all your planning, strategizing and begun implementation for 2016….right?!

Here are my top recommendations for articles that will absolutely impact your business this year and help you make the best use of your resources.

2016 Social Media Trends

2016 Social Media Trends

Top Social Media Trends That’ll Change Your Business in 2016

Needless to say, the social media landscape shifts and evolves frequently and keeping track of what will work, what won’t work and what always works (if there is such a thing…) can be time consuming and maddening. That said, this article provides some keen insight into what to focus on in your social media marketing for 2016. For keeping track of all the changes and mutations, well……you should probably ask for some expert help.

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The Truth About Revealing Your Customers’ Wishes

Personalized MarketingHow do you crawl into the heads of your customers?
The answer to that question is what’s really at the heart of any successful business. There is an entire industry built around researching customers, numerous methodologies to discern what they see as a good, bad or “Meh…” experience or product, and how to improve that experience (or ‘manage‘ it, in the terminology of the industry). I marvel at the ambition and sheer chutzpah of companies and consultants who aim at controlling people’s behavior via marketing, sales and customer support. Big data, social psychometrics, networking behavior, deep psychological studies and historical patterns can give some great insights, but we’re talking about people….and people are notoriously fickle. In these times when a customer experience or journey takes them online and off-line, as well as through numerous stages of relationships with companies, trying to maintain the thread of great experience, moving to deeper engagement and eventual sales and referrals….well, needless to say, it takes a lot of work.

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Exploit Social in 2016! 5 Unparalleled and Revealing Posts


The big push for Black Friday is over, as is the Thanksgiving holiday (if you’re in the States…). Your business is now poised for the long haul to Christmas and whatever kinds of hours and effort that means for your business and you personally. However, the Internet never stops and, like any good business or professional, you’re thinking past the hats and champagne of the New Year towards 2016 business planning. My monthly 5 best of the best for November will help you. Read them all and then do what you learn.


Paying real attention to your customers’ experience all along their journey will pay off. Customer experience (often abbreviated as CX) is quickly overtaking price and even product as the key competitive differentiator among brands.  This post by Larisa Bedgood of DataMentors touches on three key points you must attend to when moving with this trend.

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Are You Really Thrilled With That Visit?

NPS Ranger greets visitors at the visitor cent...

NPS Ranger greets visitors at the visitor center front desk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you think about when you hear the word “visitors?”

Context can provide you with different pictures…
If you are sitting in a meeting at work and your boss introduces a couple of people at the front with her as “visitors from headquarters,” your thoughts may turn to why someone from corporate came to visit your office in the hinterlands. They might be new managers acquainting themselves with the company, consultants that will be working with you, or the dreaded HR reps….

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Say What?! Do You Know The Odd Truth About Reviews?

How often do you get honest feedback about how you’re doing? I mean, honest….it doesn’t NEED to be brutal, just a truthful, balanced opinion from someone, based on their experience. A large number of businesses are scared of feedback and reviews on their various social media pages. This is despite the fact that this is an important form of social transmission and enhances the word of mouth referrals they value so much in the off-line world. These can make or break a business.

Social proof is a fuzzy concept to some, but basically it is an accumulation of the clues in our environment we use to make decisions when we don’t know the truth (a H/T [Hat Tip] to Mark Schaefer for this clear definition!) Reviews are one avenue for prospects to check you out if they’ve never heard of you before and are considering buying what you offer. Nielsen reports that 84% of people say that online reviews influence their buying decision.

There are two components to successfully working with customer reviews.

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Trusting [?] Facebook

What you can find on Facebook is all over the map! As a channel for conversation, community, communication and entertainment, it has really grown and branched out. For a lot of small business owners that I talk to, it is both an opportunity and a jungle. They are aware that the chances to grow their audience, deepen their engagement and conversation with their customers and fans, and build a trusted presence online are available. But somewhere, deep down, they’re just a little unsure of it all. When they go to their profile pages and scroll down their timelines, they see So Much that is not business. Cute videos, political barking, blatant advertising (including ads for things that they, IN NO WAY, want to have anything to do with…) and just A Lot Of Stuff. How can they trust their message to all that?

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