Whenever a new president is elected, the national media attention swiftly transitions from the campaigns to opinion and analysis of how the president will handle the “First 100 Days” in office. And while it may seem short-sighted to even begin to judge a four-year term after only a little over 3 months, much of the attention is actually deserved.
Again and again, history has shown that the first 100 days really do matter. And they often set the tone of a president’s entire term. But does this same “first 100 days” rule also apply to new customer assimilation?
According to Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose a Customer Again, the answer is a resounding “YES.” In his book, he lays out the “new customer first 100 days” methodology and explains why this period is so critical to your long-term success. Here’s what small business owners needs to know.
The 8 Phases Of A New Customer’s First 100 Days
Coleman’s book outlines eight different phases that someone can go through during their first 100 days as a new customer. We’ll break down what business owners should aim to accomplish in each phase. You can also watch the interview below to see Coleman explains the process in his own words.
1. Assess: Showcase Your Company’s Strengths
The Assess phase actually takes place before Day one in the “New Customer First 100 days” methodology. Why? Because this is the phase in which a prospect is still deciding if they even want to do business with you.
Many small business owners would call this the “marketing” or “sales” stage. Coleman says your goal during this stage is to give prospects a preview of what it would be like to do business with you. You want them to be able to clearly visualize the benefits they would experience as a customer.
Imagine that you decided to start a business that will provide college prep services to high school students. One way to effectively preview the type of experience that your customers can expect would be to create a video that succinctly explains your materials, courses, and consulting services.
You could also ask some of your former clients to write testimonials. Or you could post the average SAT scores of students who use your services. They key is to find as many ways as possible to point on a spotlight on the things that makes you different or better than your competitors.
2. Admit: Convince Casual Prospects To Become Committed Customers
The Admit phase is Day 1 in Coleman’s First 100 Days Methodology. This is when prospects decide to actually spend their hard-earned money on your products or services.
Many prospects struggle to take this important step. And the indecision will usually only increase with the price of the products or services. It will probably take more work to convince a prospect to “admit” they need your $1,000 product than it would take for a $10 product.
If you’re consistently losing potential customers in between the Assess and Admit stage, try to create ways for prospects to “test pilot” your product or service. In our college prep company example, perhaps you could offer one free consulting session or a free module in one of your courses.
3. Affirm: Reiterate The Value Of Your Product or Service
It’s during the Affirm stage of a new customer’s first 100 days, that many may begin feeling “buyer’s remorse.” Even within a few minutes or hours of pulling the trigger, they may begin to doubt their decision.
If you’re going to eventually convert that doubting customer into a loyal customer, how you handle this phase will be key. One way to assuage your new customer’s fears would be to simply have someone from your team contact them personally to provide a level of reassurance.
Other ways to alleviate concerns include a client testimonial via email that reaffirms that your new customer made a smart choice or publishing success stories on social media. Finally, you could offer an unexpected “freebie” soon after the purchase (like access to an extra resource, course, or product).
4. Activate: Energize The New Relationship
The Activate phase of the new customer’s first 100 days is when they actually begin to use your product or service. If you sell physical products, this would be the day that it’s in their hands for the first time. Or, if you’re a consultant, this may be your first kick-off session.
This phase is huge because it will be a customer’s first impression of what it’s really like doing business with you. The importance of the Activate stage is one of the reasons why it makes sense to spend a lot of time and money on your product’s “unboxing” experience. The goal it to “wow” the customer during this phase.
As Airbnb hosts, my wife and I try to accomplish this by surprising our guests with a fresh plate of hot homemade cookies on the kitchen counter when they walk in. And, in the case of our sample college prep company, you could start your first tutoring session with a testimonial from one your former students who has since gone on to do great things.
5. Acclimate: Review Your Product Details And Processes
Coleman warns that the Acclimate stage is when many companies begin to falter. Once a customer has received their product or finished their first session, it’s easy to drop our level of service and attention.
The key during the Acclimate stage is to continue educating your customers on how your product or service works and how they can take full advantage of all that your company has to offer. Remember, your new customer doesn’t know your company like you. So you may need to explain two, three, or four times, how everything works.
For example, if you sell software for businesses, you could send weekly emails with tips on how it can save your customers time and money. If you’re a wealth management firm, you could set up a follow-up with your new client to make sure they fully understand the investments you’ve chosen and your firm’s fee schedule.
6. Accomplish: Deliver On Your Promises
The Accomplish phase is when your customer achieves the goal they had when they first decided to do business with you. It’s crucial that you know what that goal is and that you realize that each individual customer’s goal could be slightly different.
For example, one student may sign up for your college prep services because they want to achieve a particular SAT test score. But another student’s goal may be to get an acceptance letter from an Ivy League school.
Make sure you clearly understand your customers’ goals at the beginning of your relationship and keep track of them throughout the entire process. And once the goal has been reached, celebrate the accomplishment in a big way so that the customer can fully appreciate the value of what you’ve achieved together.
7. Adopt: Build Long-Term Customer Loyalty
Phase seven, the Adopt phase, is a great stage for any business to reach. This is when a new customer becomes loyal to you and only you and won’t even consider buying from your competitors.
Once your customers have reached this phase, you’ve already convinced them that your products or services are worth their money. But there’s still work to do. It’s in in this phase that you’ll want to begin formalizing a long-term relationship.
For example, if you’re a therapist, this might be when you recommend setting up a “standing” appointment every Tuesday at 5 pm. Or if you sell bath and cosmetic products, this might be when you ask a customer if they’d like to sign up to have a fresh box of supplies shipped to them on a monthly basis.
This could also be a good time to “up sell” some of your additional products or services. For our college prep company, it’s in the adopt phase that they might promote some of their specialty test prep courses or their “Scholarships and Financial Aid” consultation package.
If you recommend these types of “extras” too early in the process, you may have a low success rate. But once a customer is convinced that you only provide high-quality service, they’ll be far more likely to say “yes” to your new products.
8. Advocate: Increase Referral Traffic From Raving Fans
The Advocate stage is the final one in the “new customer first 100 days” methodology. And, according to Coleman, it’s one that few customers will ever reach. This is when a loyal customer becomes a vocal fan who tells everyone who will listen how great your company is.
One great example of a company that often reaches the Advocate stage with its customers is Apple. We’ve probably all had experiences with Apple customers who passionately persuade friends and family that their lives would be so much better if they would just switch to an Apple device. A recent study also found that they have a customer retention rate of nearly 90%.
This is the kind of devotion that we’re all searching for as business owners. If you’re one of the lucky ones that are able to reach this stage, it’s here that you should ask referrals, NOT when a customer is still in Phase one or Phase two. Coleman says that most business owners either ask for referrals too early or not at all. That’s why you’ll want to think carefully about the timing in which you ask for them.
If you sell a physical product, perhaps you should wait to ask for a recommendation until after a customer has made a repeat purchase. Or, in the case of our college prep company, perhaps it could be after they’ve completed a certain number of sessions.
The “new customer first 100 days” methodology is a helpful way to think about the journey your new customers take. And if you think carefully about where each customer is at in their specific journey, it can help you give them the right support and care all along the way.
Also Read: 6 Keys Steps to Building a Focused Company