Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 53 seconds
There is nothing we love more than a happy customer, and as Spitfire Inbound’s strategic director this is my number one goal with every client we partner with.
Earlier this month, our work was validated when we swept up the international award for HubSpot’s Happiest Customers in the EMEA region during 2018 - beating out inbound marketing agencies from not just the rest of the continent, but also Europe and the Middle East. This award is granted completely proactively by HubSpot for overall client happiness, client retention and excellent results. Spitfire Inbound was selected because we demonstrated again and again that we put our clients first.
For me and my team, providing happiness is beyond just doing our jobs. For us, it really is about implementing the inbound methodology and principles - adding the right value, to the right person, at the right time! And though I’m going to share some advice from what we’ve been doing for the past two years, in the end it comes down to being connected to your client’s wants and needs.
It's important to remember that wants and needs are not always the same, sometimes people don’t want to do what is needed. One of our roles is to help our clients do the hard yards. We have to be be the coach who pushes hard to reach the ultimate goal, sometimes that hurts but it’s always worth it.
Added to this, we know of course that happiness is very challenging to measure - and we don’t think we’ve got it down pat yet. We were pleasantly surprised by this award and it did make us introspect about all we’re doing right - and wrong - and what we should replicate going forward.
How (we think) you can have happy customers
One of the key approaches we take is to look at each client completely separately. We fundamentally believe that there is no cookie cutter approach to take with the inbound methodology and that each client, and each of their clients, must be treated as completely unique and different.
Though we use benchmarks by industry, we know that each client has their own context and background, and we aim to stay completely in tune to them and their goals and the journey they’ve gone through to get here.
2. Partnering with client and truly understanding them
An extension of this is our fundamental belief that it’s only by truly partnering with your client that you can get insight into them, their brand, and their customers. This helps us to set goals that makes the client happy - goals that align with their KPIs, their business goals and their needs versus what we think we can execute on.
A really important part of this relationship is learning to understand and collaborate with your client. How do they prefer to communicate? What do they want and need from you? Do you understand what they mean when they say something in a certain way? Is your relationship around collaboration as opposed to chasing your own goals?
3. Meeting - and sharing - their goals
Clients goals are our goals. It’s that simple! Working together to meet their goals as passionately and holistically as we can is part of what makes our client relationships so valuable. It is what contributes to growth.
We know a client is happy with us and bought in when in these goal-setting strategy sessions they add their own strategic insights, contribute in the discussion and respond to our proactive suggestions. It’s this attitude that communicates that we care as much as they do, and that in the end their success is our success too.
In contrast to our above point, we also know that often a happy client is a quiet client. Just as we are quick to send off an angry tweet when we’re upset, we know it’s just as unusual to send through a compliment. We don’t expect a big entrance every time we see client and know that they will guide us if we’re making them unhappy.
5. Stretch goals
This is something we do with every client - we look at what we need to meet their goals, and then look at what it would take to go a little further. This also means looking at the people in the room and trying to understand and communicate what they care about and what they want from us. And being determined to make this happen.
Part of this is definitely looking at their metrics - views, engagement, source of qualified leads, conversion rates, cost per lead - but another very important part is looking at their customer experience with us. What makes them think, “Wow, I got more than I was expecting!”
HubSpot calls this extended value, as you can see from the image below:
6.Focusing on delight
Naturally for us this means not just focusing on pushing our clients through the funnel - we have thoroughly embraced HubSpot’s Flywheel approach and know that by delighting your customers, you are going that extra step to building a lasting relationship (we explain that in more detail in this blog post).
We know we’ve hit this ‘delight’ sweet spot with clients when they ask us to upskill and train them, when they start applying their personas and the inbound methodology to other parts of their business, when they include other role players in our meetings, and when they give us feedback - both positive and negative.
7.Interest in their whole business growth
Fundamentally, our approach is not on just providing them with good inbound principles and tools, but also to approach their whole business as something that can be improved by the inbound methodology.
We don’t sell them what we don’t truly believe they need, and try to work with them to gather not just marketing insights, but business insights from our work together.
8. They love their client-facing expert
And of course - my favourite! When client comes to me and tells me they love their inbound marketing strategist (IMS) on their account. We try so hard to align our IMS’ with client as we find a good working relationship leads to more passionate work. And we love when our “matchmaking” leads to excellence and enthusiasm.
What are the metrics of happiness? There are so many versions of happiness, it’s hard to truly know when your customer is happy. However, we know that our passion for our clients and their brands often comes through in our staff behaviour - they embody the brands they represent! We truly believe in the brands we work for and invest our own personal energy back into them. Our team is curious, committed, determined and happy!
We are excited to continue to grow with them and plan to keep our clients as happy in 2019 as they were in 2018.
Contact us to develop a truly inbound partnership.