One significant issue that our clients have been faced with is vulnerability in their new customer base. Companies invest significant time and dollars into acquiring these customers. Defection among these customers turns them into a negative investment for the company and contributes to a sales hole for the team.
One client conducts a separate survey with customers that have been onboard for less than 6 months. We uncovered that these new customers are far more likely to have experienced a problem within the 6 months of being a client. And they are also far more likely to have those problems go unresolved – a significant contributor to their vulnerability.
Another long-term client program has recently seen a record-high number of detractors in their NPS program. Of those, around half are new customers.
After getting results like these, the next logical question would be: why? Why are these customers so vulnerable? In our experience, there are three key areas that consistently need addressed: execution – how you are performing against your model; messaging – the quality and frequency of communications; and design – fit with your business model. When it comes to new customers, here how you might see these three key areas represented:
- Your onboarding is one-size-fits-all. Not all customers are created equal, but few companies take that into consideration in onboarding new customers. It takes time to learn the nuances of a new customer, especially in the service business. Focus on improving your execution in the onboarding process to ensure success with your new customers.
- Customers have been given incorrect expectations. Close to signing, we frequently see fear of “rocking the boat” from sales teams that result in half-truths about what the first month or two will look like for the new customer. As a result, these customers come in with an errant set of expectations and are immediately disappointed when they didn’t have to be. Training your sales team on how to communicate the right message during this process to avoid failing with potentially great customers before they even begin working with your company.
- You’re selling to the wrong customer. A lot of organizations fall into the trap of selling to whoever gives them money. The problem with this sales strategy is that some of these new customers that don’t appreciate or value the benefits of their business models. If your value is centered around product quality, customers that value fast shipping are not going to be happy – no matter how well you execute on your model. Take a critical look at your design, your model, and target prospects that are likely to appreciate what you’re offering.
All three of these areas – execution, messaging, and design – are potential reasons why a company would have weaker relationships in their first 6 months. The first step in repairing these relationships is to identify and communicate on any outstanding problems experienced. From there, determine which kind of issue is causing the most chaos for your new customer base and create an action plan. As you implement, make sure you track the relationships and retention rates to ensure a long-term impact.