As a business owner, happy customers are your secret weapon. They’re engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship with your company, and that’s an incredibly powerful tool that can help you grow and retain more of them in the long run.
When you use your satisfied customers to your advantage, they can help sell your solution, build trust with new leads, open doors to new opportunities, give you meaningful feedback, and point out areas of improvement. Here are four things business owners should ask for from every happy customer:
Testimonials from appreciative customers serve as clear social proof on your website, landing pages, and in marketing materials that your solution works. Rather than shouting about how great you are, employing your existing customers to explain the benefits they’ve experienced on your behalf is much more relatable to leads. These stories and words of praise are one of the most compelling signals of trust and can be crucial in convincing skeptics to sign up and give your business a try.
The most effective testimonials, case studies, and customer stories communicate a very clear, significant, positive impact on the metric you aim to help customers improve on. If your solution is designed to help other business owners increase their revenue with your marketing software, highlight testimonials from customers that lean on specific dollar amount or percentage increases in sales that can be attributed to your solution.
Reach out personally and check in on your customers to start these conversations and land winning testimonials. Ask if they’d like to answer a couple of questions about their experience working with you and get a feel for the impact of your solution. Get real numbers and figures, then inquire about what those changes have meant for their business. Tell an interesting story about what you’ve helped customers achieve.
Most business owners who have been in the game long enough know the power of referral marketing to help generate high-quality sales leads from personal introductions of their already happy customers.
When you have customers that are willing to sing your praises in the form of testimonials or reviews listed on your website, chances are they’d also be willing to offer up that same level of encouragement to other professionals in their network who could use your services. But landing high-quality referrals isn’t just as simple as firing off a quick email blast to your top customers.
Regardless of how many customers you plan to ask for referrals, take a personalized approach and send individual emails or make phone calls to ask how things are going before diving into your “ask.” Then, rather than making a generic request for “any referral” that may be a good fit, do your homework on LinkedIn to identify potential referral candidates ahead of time. Try to come to the table with a handful of specific companies and people already in mind, which will save your customer from trying to think of those who might be interested on the spot. The easier you make it for them, the higher your chances of getting quick, straightforward answers.
3. Feedback on new products, services, and features
To stay relevant in today’s competitive landscape, most businesses must continually experiment, adapt, and change—which creates a serious risk of failure when introducing a new offering to market.
Your happiest customers are your best prospects to test and validate new products, services, or features without investing in fully building the new solution, rushing to market, and shelling out for an expensive launch. When you consider new ideas, services, or a shift of focus to expand your business, tap your most engaged customers first and get their feedback on whether they’d find it valuable or not.
If you involve those that express interest in your new ideas as beta testers and get them to try out your proof of concept, they’ll naturally become personally invested in what you’re building. That will also make them ideal targets for becoming the first paying customers with your new solution, which gives you an added measure of social proof before a more public launch as well.
4. Information on what they like about your competitors
Your goal as a business owner is to continue providing valuable solutions for your most loyal customers, which includes keeping a close pulse on what’s happening with other competitors in your industry. It’s not enough to just monitor competitors yourself, though.
The customers you work with are often just as up to date or even more informed than you are when it comes to the advantages and disadvantages, new features and services offered by your competition. Your best customers are likely on the mailing lists of several providers in your industry, being courted with new specials, offers, and marketing messages daily.
If you proactively start a dialogue with your customers around what they like most about competing products or services, it will give you insights about where your business can improve, what might be worth investing more in and how you can better position yourself in the marketplace. To make this conversation most effective, ask your customers if they’ve ever thought about leaving and moving to a competitor. Uncover what they identified as strong value propositions with your competition and ultimately what made them stay. Both answers will be incredibly illuminating.
Happy customers are the lifeblood of your business. They afford you opportunities to tell impressive success stories, grow with personal recommendations, expand into new markets, learn about competitors, and much more.
You just have to ask.
Ryan Robinson is an entrepreneur and writer for Vistaprint and his blog, ryrob.com, where he shares advice for current and aspiring small business owners. Read more from Ryan on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Vistaprint’s Ideas & Advice hub, which provides a wealth business marketing tips like how word-of-mouth marketing can accelerate your business.