Joey Coleman is the founder of Design Symphony, a customer experience branding firm. He is also a renowned speaker on customer retention, and the author of the best-selling book Never Lose a Customer Again.
Businesses invest in sales and marketing to win and convert new customers but then miss out on crucial steps that create loyal, long-term buyers. Joey joined me on my Now to Next podcast to share his insights. We talk about the difference between getting and keeping customers, the vital first 100 days in customer retention and the eight phases of the customer experience.
Creative Thinking, Endless Possibilities
Joey grew up on an Iowa family farm with six brothers and sisters. His book includes a few childhood adventures illustrating how he thought outside of the box early in life. I could see a similarity in how we grew up, where resources were sometimes scarce but possibilities were endless.
One day his grandfather was trying to teach him and his brother about welding. He left the two of them alone with the equipment for a while. When he and Joey’s dad returned, they found the two boys trying to weld the doors of his father’s 1970’s Buick convertible shut. They wanted to jump in the window like the Dukes of Hazard but were told to open the doors. The logic was if the doors were welded shut, they would have to jump in through the windows.
Never Lose a Customer Again includes several more stories of Joey and his brothers and foreshadows his interesting and varied career path.
Like I did, Joey got a law degree. He worked as a defense attorney, a CIA agent, and a White House advisor before moving to Massachusetts, where he did not have a license to practice law. He’d already practiced in two states and wanted to graduate from law into something that capitalized on his creativity.
Arriving in Massachusetts a few months after 9/11, Joey decided he’d teach a class on how to understand terrorism and deal with the emotional aftermath. He met with a local University, and at first, they said no. Their undergraduate schedule was set until summertime, so he’d have to come back then. As he drove away, he got a call, and they asked, “would you be interested in teaching graduate classes?”
Joey turned his car around and met a second time with the University team. They had several openings for graduate business classes. He proposed everything he wished he could have taken. They loved his ideas and asked for syllabi. A couple of days later, he sent seven, assuming they would select one or two. They hired him to teach all seven courses.
From teaching, his career evolved into consulting, and Design Symphony was born.
Getting Customers vs. Keeping Customers
As an author, speaker, and consultant, Joey brings the difference between getting and keeping customers to businesses’ attention. If you browse Amazon for sales and marketing books, you have 1.3 million choices. People love the chase, and in business, like in love, many emphasize finding and closing customers over keeping them long term.
However, repeat business from an existing customer is where companies find real profit.
A search on customer retention, customer success, customer experience, and account management yields barely 30,000 books.
Stable profit lies in retention. It lies in developing deep, long-term relationships with customers and continuing to service them year after year.
The First 100 Days
His love affair with customer retention started one night as Joey read banking studies. He noticed that 32% of new bank customers close their accounts in the first year and 50% in the first 100 days.
His curiosity sparked, he dived into the numbers for businesses of every size and type. Joey discovered that the number of customers who leave in the first 100 days is enormous in every industry. Between 20 and 80% of new customers leave in the first 100 days.
Even more significant, Joey realized most businesses have no idea what their number is because they haven’t invested in building a relationship from the start. With effective onboarding of your new customers, you can have a customer for life.
Statistically, if a customer is satisfied and positive on day 101, they will stay for five years.
Once Joey identified the problem, he began to find ways to solve it. He investigated what the best companies were doing in those first 100 days to connect with new customers in such a personal and emotional way that the customers felt a relationship and wanted to stay.
Business Is Human to Human
Business is inherently human to human. The human experience is really what we are buying. For example, if a point of contact leaves and the client goes with them, the client didn’t have a relationship with the business; they related to that person. Even B2B (business to business) or B2G (business to government) business is ultimately H2H (human to human).
We need to care about our customers on a human level. Joey noticed the best companies in the world show photos and share bios of employees. They offer a look at the people behind the products and services.
Company culture matters because miserable employees are fundamentally incapable of providing an amazing experience.
If you want your employees to deliver an outstanding experience to your customers, you need to give a context for what that means. You cannot assume employees have stayed in four-star hotels or had exceptional customer service.
The experience you deliver to your employees models the experience they will provide to your customers.
8 Phases of the Customer Experience
There is a unique distinction between customer service and customer experience.
Customer service is about what we do when something goes wrong.
Customer experience is our vision of what it could and should be. It’s our opportunity to design and create a sense of connection and personal relationship for the customer with us. We can proactively give customers the experience we want them to have.
There are eight phases of the customer experience. They all start with A’s because when a business gets them all right, their customers give them straight A’s!
Businesses already invest their time and money in this first phase. It’s the investigative phase for the consumer.
The “assess phase” is when prospects are checking out your company. They see your marketing, advertising, reviews, and websites. They may talk to friends and family about your products and services.
To launch the customer relationships, they need to admit they have a problem you can solve or a need you can fulfill. In the “admit phase,” you want to get the prospect to have their own realization and help them to see something they haven’t seen before.
Admit is the conversion phase. Customers buy a product or register for a service.
Avoid buyer’s remorse by affirming the problem the product or service solves. In the “affirm phase,” the company needs to ask, “How do we make the customer feel seen, heard, and excited to move forward?”
The goal is to continue to reaffirm their decision to purchase your product or service. Remind them of their thought process. Let them know your business is invested in their success and is excited about the outcomes they’ll achieve. Make it clear what comes next for them.
The “activate phase” is the first real moment of truth. It’s an opportunity to energize the relationship. It’s the moment they come in for the service, or they unbox your product.
Bring a level of energy to the conversation that lets them know doing business with you will be unlike any experience they have ever had.
Many businesses assume they are giving customers all the information they need, but people don’t read every email and contract.
In the “acclimate phase,” you hold the customer’s hand and introduce them to your way of doing business.
Every prospect has a goal they are trying to achieve. They want your product or service to accomplish that goal. We need to know what that goal is and track their progress to that goal and celebrate when they get there.
The “adopt phase” is when customers become loyal to our business. When we consistently meet our clients’ needs, and they are satisfied with the relationship, they tend to stop considering competitors as an option. This stage is where most businesses want to be with all of their clientele.
An advocate is a customer who brings in new customers. When we provide exceptional service, it’s common for your clients to become raving fans who sing your praises far and wide. No company could ever have too many referrals, so it’s great to have as many advocate customers as possible.
Dream Big and Track Your Progress
As humans, we crave progress. Only when you think your future is better than your past can you be excited to wake up each day and engage. Dream big and track your progress.
All humans are struggling to track progress in our lives. To acknowledge the progress you’ve made is a powerful confirmation. The same applies to your business. What are your progress markers for your customers?
Investing in customer retention has a financial impact; it improves the bottom line. It also has an emotional effect and enhances employee morale.
For more information on out how to systematically turn new customers into raving fans, check out Joey Coleman’s book Never Lose a Customer Again.
And, to catch the full interview I had with Joey Coleman, you can watch it on YouTube or your favorite podcast listening platform. And of course, you can always reach out to me directly with any questions you might have!