Seven steps to simply succeed with customers

Published Nov 09, 2018 | Written by Keith Errington

There is a phrase that many people use when giving advice on a new task, process, or procedure: Keep It Simple. It’s a great piece of advice for so many undertakings – as over complicating things inevitably leads to more mistakes and errors, with a greater chance of failure. After all, you never hear anyone say, “Make it more complicated”

In previous posts, we have talked about how important not only gaining but retaining customers is. Retaining customers is essential for a whole bunch of reasons including the possibility of repeat business and their potential to become advocates for your business. So how do you attract and keep customers? Do you have to go through a complex set of procedures? Are there sacred rituals involved? Which gods should you pray to? Or do you simply cross your fingers and hope for the best?

No – you just need to keep it simple.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. They are undoubtedly busy people, with a lot of responsibilities and work on their hands. The last thing they want is to spend lots of time working out what they should do to buy a product or service, or spending lots of time working out how to use that product or service. The simpler and easier you can make things for them, the more likely it is they will respond. You don’t keep it simple because your audience is ‘intellectually challenged’, you do it because modern buyers don’t have time to think.

Keeping the search simple

This whole "keep it simple" approach starts at the beginning – when a prospect is looking for information to help define a problem, identify an approach to solving it, and to home in on the appropriate solution.

If you’ve followed our posts about inbound marketing at all, you will know that one of the principal ways to put yourself in the shoes of a prospect, potential buyer, or customer, is to develop a series of buyer (and customer) personas.

Once you have fully worked up personas, you can start to imagine what their issues are, what challenges they face. Then you can start to make a list of topics they would be searching for information about. There may be many topics, and some for which you do not have the appropriate products or services, so you can set these aside and concentrate on those that you can help with.

Once you have the topics you can start to identify the key words and phrases they might use in a search engine. And this where the keep it simple principle applies. Always try to imagine yourself in the searcher’s shoes. What is the most obvious thing they would search for? What is the simplest set of words and phrases they might use? That’s not to say you shouldn’t look at more complex phrases or industry jargon – just that you should always think simple to begin with.

For a more in-depth discussion of this process, check out this useful HubSpot post – how to do keyword research.

Keeping the message simple

Once a prospect has found your content, it should be easy to digest and quick to comprehend. Ideally, it should start with a summary that explains the content and ‘sells’ it – by which I mean it tells the reader what benefit they will gain by reading or viewing the content. Busy buyers will scan an article and quickly assess whether they want to spend their valuable time on it – so make it easy for them to get the gist of the piece right from the start and give them some good reasons for staying with it.

Taking a simple approach to content implies a host of things to pay attention to when creating content – so take a look at this post: 10 ways to keep your content marketing simple.

If your product or service is complex, or it’s benefits are not immediately obvious, you will need to educate your audience. Take the same approach – explain why educating themselves will bring benefits to them, and keep the content clear and simple.

Keeping the call to action simple

Once your audience has found the content and perhaps viewed it, you need to offer them the option to take things further with a Call To Action (CTA). This can be a number of things from subscribing to your content, to offering a helpful eBook or suggesting they contact you. But whatever you decide is best, keep it simple, honest and direct. (If you are short of ideas try these posts from HubSpot and Hootsuite ).

Keeping the contact simple

Always provide a contact number or contact form alongside your content – do not lose any opportunity for your audience to get in touch. They may have clicked on your article and that then reminded them to talk to you about something else entirely – don’t lose that interaction by making it difficult for them to find contact details.

If you use a contact form – keep it really simple and only ask for the barest minimum of information. (And since the introduction of GDPR you need to take account of any information you collect and deal with it correctly.)

Any time you have a form, or a call to action – keep it simple. My favourite go-to book on this subject is the quick and easy read, “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug which brilliantly highlights why keeping it all simple is a winning strategy for user interface design.

Keeping the sale simple

Don’t stop keeping it simple once the buyer commits to your product or service – make sure the whole process is simple from the customer’s point of view. This is the time for salespeople to shine – anticipating the buyer’s needs and providing help and consultancy throughout the process, without being pushy or over attentive.

Ensure that plenty of help material is available, that the customer knows where to go for help, and that their expectations are managed so they are not surprised or disappointed during the process.

Keeping the on-boarding simple

Managing the initial period – when the customer uses the product or service for the first time – is crucial to a sustained relationship, repeat sales and customer advocacy. So once again, ensure there is plenty of helpful and supportive content that is easy to find. Commit resources to this period – this will pay dividends, as we know it is easier to sell to an existing customer than to find a new one. Follow onboarding best practices.

Keeping the aftercare simple

Customer support should never be an afterthought. Demonstrating good support in times of crisis not only wins a customer for life, but it will also turn them into solid advocates for your business.

So make access to support simple, and manage expectations so that customers can continue to make business decisions when the product or service cannot be used. It’s no good spending a great deal of time and effort winning a customer’s business if you then throw all that away because you can’t support them properly.

Customers can become the best salespeople for your business. Remember that most buyers will research their purchase and during this process they will talk to peers and associates. So make sure that if they talk to one of your existing customers, they have nothing but good things to say about your product or service and their aftercare experience.

Make it easy for your customers to share their experiences by adding the appropriate social media reminders and calls to action. Even simple things like making sure your social media accounts and hashtags are visible for customers to reference and use can make all the difference.

The simple truth

Marketing and sales often seems very complex, and your products and services may be diverse and not always easy to understand, but the potential customer doesn’t care – they just want to find the information they want easily, understand and work out what it means for them quickly, request information without filling in endless forms, painlessly purchase the right solution, put it to work immediately (and see the benefits), and have their problems solved in a professional and timely manner.

They don’t want to think, they don’t want it to be difficult. From their point of view – they want things simple. So keep it simple.

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Published by Keith Errington November 9, 2018
Keith Errington