Imagine someone that uses your product day after day, and is an expert in all of its functionality. They paid you for the right to use your product. They know how to use it in more ways than you and your trainers and customer service representatives do. They provide you feedback on its benefits, and tell you ways that you can improve the product too. They help your other customers to solve problems with your product and find undiscovered features and functionality. They also provide testimonials about your product and company, and they refer other highly qualified buyers to you. The conversion to sale rate for these referrals is extremely high. They also buy upgrades to your product as well as purchase other products from you.
And now the best part, you don’t have to pay this person a penny in income ….
Sounds like a dream? Well that is true. Moreover, almost every company has many of these people. They go by many names: “customer evangelists”, “apostles”, “loyal customers”, and several more.
Whatever they are called, your company needs to embrace and extend these valuable assets. With Web 2.0, embracing and extending these apostles is easier than ever. It represents the largest untapped profit opportunity that exists for any company today. Companies need to make these valuable individuals part of their team in most respects.
To see empirical and anecdotal evidence supporting this assertion, read the works of Frederick Reichheld, specifically The Loyalty Effect and The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth.
The notion of a loyal customer and their lifetime value to a company is not really new to anyone in business. The largest issue is that embracing and extending these apostles requires effort and the rewards are not as easily measurable or immediately tangible as either a hard cost reduction or an additional sale. This is true despite the fact that the former is a much more profitable endeavor.
With the capabilities that Web 2.0 offers to companies, the lack of focus on loyal customers is no longer excusable. Leaders will embrace these new capabilities and reap the rewards of cultivating their apostles, and enjoy best in class margins and market leadership. The followers will eventually adopt this approach as a result of pressure from their board and shareholders when the benefits realized by the leaders becomes obvious.
We are at a unique time in the development of Web 2.0 where a company can seize its potential and make a significant step change in their market position. Will you be a leader and realize the benefit of your greatest untapped asset? Web 2.0 is offering a truly scalable customer engagement platform that is begging to be embraced by business leaders.