How to personalise your service and achieve faster customer success in 2021

After the unpredictability of 2020, many businesses will be hoping for a more stable, steady period of growth in the coming year. As your business grows, you may find that different team members do the same things in different ways. You may also find that a degree of ‘reinventing the wheel’ goes on, as it’s challenging for the disparate parts of your business to talk and work together in the initial stages of growth. 

Perhaps your business’ newsletter used to be the job of one person, and now it’s passed to a team that collaborates together. Maybe one person used to manually qualify leads and follow up with them in your CRM but your latest hire knows a more efficient, automated way to do this. This is a time where your internal process documents are essential.

Sustainable growth is one of the most exciting prospects for a company, but it also presents one of the biggest opportunities to drop the ball when it comes to customer service. As you expand and develop your product or service offering, are the ways you delight customers evolving, too? In this post, we offer hints and tips to help you keep your service personalised and rigorous as you grow, while also helping customers achieve their own goals faster.

Where ESM Inbound was going wrong

At the start of 2020, we realised that we were wasting time during HubSpot onboarding by teaching things that could be found by clients in Google or HubSpot Academy. We’d spend hours in one-to-one calls with clients, showing them HubSpot functions which it would be more than easy for someone to watch at their own leisure through a search engine.

So we started to move away from the formulaic, generalised model we’d been using (and had worked for us previously) and instead streamlined our service. We began offering training sessions that incorporated clients’ needs, creating tasks specific to their onboarding requirements. Why would a client want training that suited everyone else? We all know the golden rule when it comes to training: if you’re targeting everyone, you’re actually targeting no-one.

How we fixed our approach

This might sound like an obvious step, but for a lot of inbound marketing agencies, a standardised onboarding process is still common practice. A repeatable, standard training piece is efficient, predictable and offers reliable outcomes. But it may or may not be relevant and engaging to each customer as an individual. Our Head of Marketing Technology, Matt Nortje, explains the logic behind this shift:

“You study better when you actively do something to solidify the learning. If you’re just made to sit and listen to a presentation on a slide deck, you’re unlikely to digest the new information fully. We apply that concept to our onboarding experience: we get clients involved and actively learning new skills from the first session. It allows them to learn better and be participants in their own marketing, rather than passively listening to us talk at them.”

Adding value for our clients

The new method has worked particularly well so far. One of our clients that supports the public sector has recently hired a new marketing manager; this personalised service has been particularly valuable to them, as Matt Nortje continues:

“He had a very specific role to play in social media and paid social advertising for the company, so we focused on how to make his life easier with HubSpot. We wanted to give him the support he needed to achieve everything he was used to getting from multiple software tools, such as reporting. We built dashboards so he could hit the ground running and see the data he needed fast but all from within one platform.”

Now our customers set the agenda. We ask for their priorities and end goals, then we reverse-engineer tasks around their targets. For example, if a customer knows they want a chatbot on their website, our first training session will be focused around that. By the end of one session, they will know how to build future chatbots and have one live on their site. 

This approach gives our customers what they need fast, but also aligns these deliverables within a wider, more strategic plan: the client is happy because they quickly get the deliverable they asked for, but it means we haven’t just blindly delivered their requests. We always want to ensure our actions lead to further successes for our customers. With our eyes firmly on the big picture, we can ensure we aren’t being ‘Yes people’ and are lending our strategic skills to enable customers to really see the value in their investment.

Living by your values

Your company will have its own mission statement and values – hopefully you live by these every day, and represent them in the way you work with customers. ESM Inbound’s values are:

  • Dependability
  • Ownership
  • Accuracy
  • Clarity
  • Joy

By adapting our onboarding process to personalise our service and put customer success front and centre, we’re reinforcing three of our core values: – dependability, clarity and ownership. These are at the heart of ESM Inbound. The HubSpot onboarding journey should be personal and help solve business problems. We believe this is the attention to detail our customers deserve and that sets ESM Inbound apart from other inbound marketing agencies.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How could you un-formularise some of your own processes to deliver a more personal experience to customers?
  • Which parts of your product or service could be more customisable than the ‘off the shelf' solution you might currently offer?
  • How could you make customers more hands-on with your product or service, to help them learn faster?

We know that in today’s busy world it can be easier to send a blanket email or offer a best-fit service that will be “good enough” for the bulk of your contacts. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that personal, quality service will always help a business survive and thrive in a sea of average or generalised options.