the cost of acquiring a customer
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It’s not every day a major publisher approaches you to write a book, unless you’re Becky Carroll that is. It was Becky’s blog, a blog she started writing in 2006, that captured a certain business publisher’s attention. What was Becky writing about? Most of what she blogged about was what makes for outstanding customer service– not rocket science even by Becky’s confession but something so key to successful business that book publisher, Wiley took notice.

Social Planet had the privilege of meeting with Becky about her book, The Hidden Power of Your Customers, to uncover Becky’s hidden power.

Spend Marketing Dollars on Existing Customers
Observing that her Fortune 100 clients and most businesses spent the majority of their marketing efforts on the acquisition of new customers, it dawned on Becky that little was being done for the old customer and left her wondering why was it that only new customers get the special deals. What about those who have bought your product and continue to buy your product over and over again?

From Becky Carroll’s experience, it’s a shift in thinking in a core business model, to focusing effort on their existing customer base, that businesses begin to unleash the “hidden power” of their customers and create a backdrop for the kind of sought-after, word of mouth customer experience that gets shared over and over again. Businesses need to invest in the customers they already have. Value them, recognize them, thank them, reward them. Extend your best services to them. That all-too-common tendency to forget a customer once you have gained the sale is exactly what you should not do if you expect substantial and sustained growth in a thriving business, according to Becky.

Use Social Media Throughout the Entire Enterprise
Customer service has never been so paramount for businesses today. With access to a worldwide publishing platform through social media and technology, the venting of bad customer experiences is only a few characters away. There’s a renewed urgency for customer service to be amazing, and in fact if it’s not, the whole world will hear about it.

Businesses can utilize social media to accomplish some very important marketing functions across the board: market research, thanking the customer, listening to the customer, resolving complaints and giving businesses the opportunity to make raving fans. According to Becky, social media strategy is really more about a having a relationship strategy in place. Businesses that do, will stand apart from the rest.

Rock Customer Service by Being Proactive
To rock your customers’ world, Becky offers 4 key strategies, which make up the acronym ROCK: Relevant marketing, Orchestrated experience, Customer-Focused culture and Killer customer service.

And the only way to achieve a customer service model that rocks, you have to place your existing customers at the center of everything you do as a business. This kind of customer-centric focus is methodical, thought-out, well-intentioned, calculated even for the times when the unexpected arises. In Becky’s words, “You can’t leave a customer experience to chance.” From the first time your customers think of you to the time they recycle your product, the entire customer experience must meet the customer at every touch point in the customer’s life cycle.

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Treat Your Customers and Employees as Assets
Companies that value and nurture their current customers get fans to talk and share,  buy more, and infectiously influence others. Becky gives the example of Harley Davidson, an iconic company with cult-like status to motorcycle enthusiasts, that has seen its stock value increase over 120% over the last 3 years. What percentage of Harley Davidson’s marketing budget is spent on its existing customer base? A recent figure says 88 percent.

It comes as no surprise that companies with a customer-focused culture, those that provide this kind of talked-about, remarkable customer service, also tend to be the very same companies that value their employees as assets, and it’s this deep respect for people and relationships at the core of businesses that unlocks a customer’s hidden power as brand advocates and turns them into raving fans.

Becky Carroll is founder of Petra Consulting Group, a keynote speaker and respected panelist at industry conferences. Some of her clients include Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Arts, Ford and Verizon. We happen to be partial to the fact that you can catch her on the local San Diego NBC news affiliate as a contributor and that she teaches Social Media at University of California, San Diego.