“Our solutions providers can’t assume that we’ll stay loyal to them. From our point of view, they need to earn our business every day. If they provide us the value that they promise, we’ll be great customers for them. We’ll even help them get other customers.”
Does this sound like any of your customers? We’ve heard this opinion about satisfaction and loyalty from a lot of different solutions buyers. In our experience, they tend to be fair but demanding. Many of them appreciate the value that you bring them, but have the “but that was yesterday…what are you doing for me today?” attitude.
Driving Business Value — the Basis for all Customer Advocacy Activities:
Nothing can replace having great solutions packages that you can provide your customers. Niceties like immediately responding to phone calls, providing project updates on a weekly basis, having your executives stay in touch with their executives, etc., won’t substitute for great technology and solutions implementation processes and methodologies. It’s the overall value embedded in your solutions offerings that will carry the day. Your first step in driving high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty — which should ultimately lead to proactive advocacy on your behalf — is to deliver real business value with every project or delivery.
The Case for a Strong Customer Advocacy Program:
However, in today’s global, hypercompetitive market, it can be really hard to differentiate your solutions over the long term. Even if your customers agree that you provide real business value, you still will have to emphasize the value deliver — and, in fact, add to it — by having a strong Customer Advocacy program.
The Role of Solutions Marketing:
Solutions Marketers have a critical role in transforming your customers into your company’s advocates. As I said earlier, the cornerstone of long-term relationship with your customers will always be the value delivered through your solutions. To ensure that you leverage that value, here are 4 steps that you can take that will put a spotlight on that value and lead to stronger relationships with your customer.
Why is this Model Relevant to Solutions Marketers?
While all of these activities could be relevant to services or product-based companies, they should be part and parcel for solutions companies. The main reasons for this are:
- Solutions, by definition, are about solving your customer’s business problems. This requires deeper knowledge of your customer’s problems, competitive position, strategy, etc. Your importance and status to your customer increases as you deliver more complex solutions with greater business impact.
- You have a longer relationship with your customer. Solutions typically take longer to implement and enable inside the customer’s environment, and the impact of the solution takes longer to measure. This can work to your advantage if you “keep your nose clean” and fulfill your promises as laid out in your Value Propositions.
So…now that we’ve looked at what to do, the next question is how to do it.
- Should all of the programs within each of the 4-step model operate independently?
- Should they all be managed and controlled by a single person or group?
- Where should the responsibility for making this happen live within an organization?
Share your experiences and insights with us…while we have our own opinions, we’d love to hear yours.