Want Customer Growth? Move from ABC to EFG


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It’s largely accepted that the most effective way to gain new customers is through the recommendations of existing ones. The sincere enthusiasm of brand advocates, both in conversations and on social media, can drive viral positivity exceeded only by videos of cute animals and babies. What business wouldn’t want that sort of growth?

Despite all the talk about the importance of existing customers to brand reputation, many businesses are still focused on motivating their sales and marketing teams to bring in new customers. Just as Alec Baldwin lectured his team in Glengarry Glen Ross, the approach for most companies is “ABC”:


However, for many of today’s companies, focusing too much on acquiring new customers and not enough on pleasing existing ones can lead to lower profitability and drive away potential brand advocates. With that in mind, it’s high time for to look beyond the “ABC” approach to the next letters in the alphabet, “EFG”:

Fan-focused, and


The customer journey extends from discovery to purchase (hopefully many) to departure (hopefully never). Brands should take advantage of the many opportunities to engage their customers at every point during that journey, in order to build familiarity and trust. Understanding each touchpoint and utilizing different communication channels — from social media to personalized email or satisfaction polls — can help identify what could increase loyalty as well as what might drive customers away.

When it comes to building great experiences, empathy will always be more powerful than sales tactics. Today, professionals who exhibit emotional intelligence (EQ), are more likely to be top performers and make a difference engaging with customers. Even the most eloquent standardized script will not soothe a savvy consumer, who finds a much better experience in having a real conversation with a competent product expert. People commonly take their issues to fellow customers first, as they know they can rely on their shared passions or experiences and candid perspectives. Smart organizations are tapping into these trusted relationships by incentivizing members of their communities to assist others, thus driving retention.


Brand enthusiasm begins with the hiring process. From the CEO down to front-line agents, if you’re not passionate, your fans will be able to tell. Passionate service often sets a brand apart from its competitors when products and services are otherwise equal. Especially for retailers who sell many of the same products as their competitors, where they make their friends and foes is not in the what a customer buys or how they do it (online or in-store), but rather in the quality of service they receive when a question or issue arises. Your front-line customer service representatives play a critical role in preserving customer loyalty and, as a result, driving future sales.

Giving customer service agents the freedom to personalize their interactions with customers is an essential first step in delivering truly fan-focused service. There are plenty of customer analytics and artificial intelligence tools that can help companies gain an intimate understanding of how each customer engages and uses a product or service. Even if your budget doesn’t allow for the latest AI technology to parse the data, satisfaction surveys and low-cost survey tools can help you gather customer feedback. Social media can also be used to start conversations, encourage customers to share their experiences, and interact with each other. Built-in social analytics also give you demographic information about who you’re reaching with your posts and who is actually engaging with your brand.

Finally, fan-focused service is about respecting the commitment and promises you make to customers and being consistent in how you handle it. Nordstrom is a great example of a company that has a very liberal return policy and regardless if you deal with an online or in-store sales representative, they are always accommodating. They also don’t have a deadline for returns like most stores. For their consistency and commitment to customer happiness, they are rewarded with a loyal community.


We are taught to say “please” and “thank you” — it’s only polite. So, what are you doing to thank your customers? A scripted “Thank you for choosing {your brand name here}” isn’t enough; your customers get that from everyone they transact with. Instead of just saying thank you, show your gratitude.

What are you thanking them for? Everything: purchasing once; purchasing often; leaving a product review; sharing their experiences (positive or negative) on social media; referring a friend; and more. In short: you’re thanking them for interacting with your brand, as a way to encourage them to do so more often.

One way to thank customers for continuing to patronize your business is with a loyalty program. For example, at a number of grocery stores, customers can accrue points through purchases; they can then redeem those points for discounts at affiliate gas stations. Similarly, many restaurants allow customers to earn free or discounted items after certain number of purchases or visits (“Buy nine coffees, and the tenth is on us!”). In creating a loyalty program, it’s essential that the rewards are something that will interest your customers and be relevant to your brand. You can also use customers’ sign-up information to go even further: send them a gift (e.g., discount, coupon for a freebie, etc.) around the date they list as their birthday.

Front-line service agents should be empowered to go above and beyond for the people they assist. Maybe a customer mentions during a live chat that they’re purchasing an item for their first child’s nursery or their upcoming honeymoon. It only takes a few minutes for that agent to hand-write a card wishing them congratulations. Or, go even further, and send some branded swag that ties into their celebration (a sleep mask for the honeymoon traveler, perhaps, or a bib for the expecting parent).

Even those patrons not actively purchasing or satisfied with their experience deserve a show of gratitude for sharing their feedback. If a customer leaves a negative review of your business or tweets about their dissatisfaction, a thoughtful, tailored response can go a long way in tempering negative feelings (and in some cases can drive the customer to give you another chance). Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts honestly, and make it clear how you will utilize their specific feedback to make improvements for the future. If the review is short or you need more detail, don’t hesitate to reach out and request it; this shows the customer you truly care about their individual experience and want to do better.

By prioritizing outstanding experience (E) throughout customer journey (and beyond), being fan-focused (F) and showing gratitude (G), “EFG” sales approach can transform your existing customers into the best salesforce you ever had to gain new leads.

Steve Henry
Steve Henry, ModSquad’s VP, Client Services, is a tested gaming-industry veteran with two decades of experience managing customer experience teams, including 15 years in the interactive entertainment/video game industry, and 14 years managing large geographically diverse work units in North America, Europe, and Asia. Before joining ModSquad, Steve oversaw support teams for Zenimax, Electronic Arts, and TV Guide. When he’s not at his home base of Austin, Texas, Steve is likely traveling the globe, having visited more than 50 countries over the years.



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