Should we focus on getting new customers or engage more with our current customers? I get this question a lot from starting print on demand business owners. And I understand why. In this article I’m going to share my thoughts on this topic.
The answer to whether to focus on new or current customers first seems to be easy: Both. And actually, it’s true.
But when you talk about focus and multiple things, focus doesn’t work that well anymore. You’ll get distracted easily.
Simply put: You need new customers to create current customers, right?
So when you start out, your focus should be on selling as much and as fast as possible. Not with the goal to make a lot of money (although that is not a problem of course) but with the goal to build a customer base to build a relationship with.
Relationships with your customers will help you build a sustainable business faster. Making your customers happier will usually result in them spending more money with you.
And when you consider that it is five to twenty five times more expensive to get a new customer than to retain a current one (as researched by Harvard Business Review) engaging with current customers becomes a priority even faster.
Proactive and reactive customer engagement
As said, it has become more expensive for businesses to get new customers. That's why you need to focus on keeping customers happy. There are two ways to achieve that:
This is a reactive way of engaging with your customers. Whenever a question, issue or request comes in through email, live chat and social media the customer support team starts the engagement.
It’s mainly a problem oriented engagement with the customers, but crucial to build a sustainable print on demand business.
This is the proactive way to engage with your customers. It’s where you offer the customer value before, during and after the sale. This will increase customer happiness and loyalty, and make them brand ambassadors.
Customer experience is therefore directly tied to your business’ bottom line as it increases the customer lifetime value. Let’s look at that metric.
Customer Lifetime Value
One of the most important metrics to measure when your print on demand business is growing is the customer lifetime value (CLTV).
Together with the costs of customer acquisition (CAC) you can determine how long it takes to recoup the investment you have to make to earn a new customer. You need this number to determine what you can spend on your sales & marketing expenses.
CLTV also tells you how much revenue you can expect one customer to generate over the course of the relationship. The longer a customer continues to purchase from your business, the greater their lifetime value becomes.
This is something that your customer support team has direct influence over during the customer journey. Your team needs to know how to solve problems and offer recommendations that will persuade customers to stay loyal to your business.
When your business is actively geared towards customer experience it will create more satisfied customers, which leads to increased revenue and less customer support work.
You will notice over time that Investing in customer experience and customer support will pay off big time.
So how do you start to engage with your customers?
It’s simple actually. Map out what you have in place right now, then look where you can improve the customer experience.
Here are the five actions which I think are necessary to take:
Provide necessary information
Customers have questions before, during and after they make a purchase. Make sure you have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section available with a search function. People should be able to instantly see where they can find an answer.Using a beacon for your FAQ and/or live chat works very well.
Solve support questions quickly
Nobody wants to wait for days before they get an answer to a question, so make sure you answer questions quickly, preferably within 6-12 hours, but definitely within 24 hours Use helpdesk software to be able to manage your support tickets. Using just an email address will increase the chance to screw things up.
Set up a strategy
Create a roadmap for success to explain your business's expectations and goals for the customer experience in both the short and long term. Make sure the strategy meets the needs and expectations of your customers.
Next, it’s important to share and implement the strategy on your team, and ensure everyone knows what's expected of them individually and as a team. Once your business and customer base grows you can adjust or modify your strategy.
Structure the team
The best option is to assign a customer success manager to lead the group of people who work directly with customers right now. Their job will be to train the team and make sure customers get the service they need - proactive and reactive -based on the strategy you set up. Plus they are primarily responsible in case something needs to be escalated for any reason.
Take action right now
An old Dakota indians wisdom said: “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse.”
I see a lot of print on demand business owners try new strategies on dead horses:
- - Buying a course to see how they ride dead horses
- - Lowering the standard so that dead horses can be included
- - Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse
- - Declaring the dead horse decreases overhead costs and therefore adds more to the bottom line than some other horses
It doesn’t work this way.
Making changes means you need to ‘start doing’. With doing I mean do the actual work, not write documentation and expect your team to follow along.
I believe in an agile approach when making changes. Don’t implement everything at once, but reach your goal step by step. Every step you make should add something to the customer experience.
That way, nobody in your team gets overwhelmed, and customers will see improvements over time knowing you have their best interest in mind.
This will help to build a better relationship with your customers.
To sum it all up
When you start your print on demand business you should focus on getting new customers first. As your customer base grows, your focus will need to shift to proactive customer engagement.
This is necessary if you want to build a sustainable business.
Set up a strategy for the customer experience, train your team and implement helpdesk software to be able to answer support questions quickly. Make changes along the way.
Build a relationship with your customers, find out what they need and desire, so you can eventually capitalize on that.
The POD Partner can help you out
We make running your print on demand business easier. We can help you set up your backend operations, or fully manage it on your behalf with the goal of improving the customer experience and giving you more time to focus on the stuff you’re good at!
If improving the customer experience gives you headaches, we love to have a chat to see if we can help you out!
Founder of The POD Partner