I recently wrote a blog entitled “In Five Years, Who Is Going to Be Your Customer?” and got great feedback on the topic. Future customers, however, are not so far away that you cannot find them today. I thought I would follow up and tell you what we are seeing out in the marketplace among our customers that might apply to you to help you find your future customers.
3 ways customers of tomorrow are searching for you now:
Some of these overlooked opportunities come from our work as business anthropologists. But most of them you can find yourself if only you look around you.
1. The telephone call center is an amazing source for new customers that all too often, companies are ignoring.
We do a lot of work with healthcare clients.
One of the areas that is finally, I repeat, finally, emerging as the “big” idea is turning call centers into revenue centers. People are calling hospitals or physician offices to get appointments or to find out about something to help them solve a problem.
In the past, the key measure of an effective call center was how fast telephone operators could get a caller off the line — 15 seconds was the standard. Now, healthcare organizations are realizing that those are future customers calling.
Instead of shuttling them off the line, hospitals need to make sure these callers are getting the appointments they need, showing up for the appointments they make, getting a follow-up call to make sure they are following their doctor’s care instructions, are compliant with the medications prescribed, and let’s not forget, feeling better.
THE TAKE-AWAY: Tomorrow’s patient or customer is coming to you today but you have to pay attention and capture them.
One of our articles on the subject with a case study was recently published in Strategic Health Care Marketing. We like to share this case study because it illustrates exactly what I’m talking about. A healthcare system, Amita Health in Illinois, has successfully captured new customer business by turning the 70,000 inbound calls received each year into patient appointments. In just one year, 20013-2014, they increased the number of appointments from 11,500 to 15,000. That’s more than a 23 percent increase in 12 months, from the same volume of inbound calls, driving revenue directly attributable to the call center.
Are you walking away from tomorrow’s customers by thinking of them as expenses? Is this causing you to shrink the services you offer them when they call?
2. The second “right in front of your nose” opportunity is from current customers.
You currently sell your customers something that they buy from you. But you rarely listen to what they are asking you. Potential customers often have unmet needs — what if’s — but are you listening?
A favorite story comes from a head of sales of an Ohio company who attended one of our workshops. He sold a special type of foam insulation. As the sales manager, he had gone out to observe one of his salesmen with a client. The interchange was fascinating, he said, but only in hindsight.
As we conducted our workshop on who might be his customer in the future, this salesman had an “aha” moment when he realized that the future customer was right there before him. It was the current customer asking for things whom he wasn’t listening to. In fact, the customer literally kept saying “What if…”
What if you could do something different or tangential to what you are selling? What the sales manager realized was that opportunities were right in front of him but he wasn’t hearing or seeing them. He went back to his colleagues and shared with them the “what if” story. They then turned the “what if’s” into their sales process — only to find business all around them. Eureka!
3. Search and inbound marketing are the most important ways that tomorrow’s customers are finding you today — as long as you are Internet ready for them.
We are HubSpot Partners and have been bringing onboard a lot of our customers with inbound marketing strategies. It doesn’t take long to see that pushing a message out to potential customers is no longer very useful. Consumers have changed — drastically. They ignore television commercials and listen to iTunes instead of radio spots. Few people read newspapers. What they are doing when they need something is turning to Google or Bing or Yahoo. They go searching.
What this means for you is that your customer of tomorrow is searching for you. They have a question or a problem or a need. If your website doesn’t come up on the first or maybe second page of Google, you are not “there” for them. And you are telegraphing (whether you realize it or not) that your solution is not for them because they cannot find you.
If you want to find your customer of tomorrow today, you must rethink your marketing strategy and “Go Inbound!” You won’t find it that hard or that complex. But you will find it very measurable and actionable. In fact, each week we find ourselves with one or two new prospective customers searching us out, downloading our white papers, watching videos and engaging with us. This could be you as well!
You can read more about Inbound Marketing in this blog: “Mastering the Art of Inbound Marketing, Part I.”
Those future customers really are all around you.
One of my favorite Innovation gurus, John Seeley Brown, said it so well when he was Director of Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto: “The way forward is, paradoxically, not to look ahead but to look around.” I couldn’t agree more!
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If you would like to know more about how Inbound Marketing strategies can revolutionize your business, please contact us at your convenience for a free consultation.