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Proactive Partner Marketing Builds Customer Lifetime Value 

Building long-term customer relationships is nothing new to Microsoft partners, but cloud-based services do change the nature of interactions with clients.

The fifth book of Microsoft's Modern Partner Series, "Deliver Customer Lifetime Value," examines the importance of fine-tuning your operations and service offerings with a long-term perspective. To support that transformation, you should develop a Customer Lifetime Value marketing program that engages your entire organization to proactively strengthen relationships.  

The cloud doesn't change the basic tenets of good customer service or the role of partners in educating clients about new technology. What the cloud does change is the nature of interactions between your employees and your customers. Services are more likely to be delivered remotely, with less face-time through training, implementation and ongoing support. You can help your employees make the extra effort to proactively engage with customers by providing resources, training and programs.

Education Inside and Outside Your Organization
Equip your employees with knowledge and tools to tell clients about additional services that you offer.

  • In addition to sending your newsletter and marketing campaigns to your outside contact list, send them to your employees so they know what customers are seeing.

  • Hold regular meetings or Yammer discussions to promote customer engagement stories. Use specific examples of how an employee identified and solved a customer challenge.

  • Maintain a "hotline" so employees can get instant answers about additional services when they identify an opportunity with a customer.

Take a Strategic Approach to Your Customer Base
Segment your customer base to identify those companies with the most potential to use additional services.   

  • Give your consultants and technical folks the opportunity to contribute their knowledge to identify high-potential customers. They may have heard about acquisition or expansion plans during their interactions with clients.

  • Consider adding a Customer Success Manager position to your organization. That person's role should include annual on-site strategy sessions with top clients.

  • If you have a regional practice, plan events that will appeal to all your clients to increase face-to-face interactions.

Tap into the Strengths of Your Employees
Building Customer Lifetime Value should be part of the corporate culture and each one of your employees should play a role. Tap into their interests and expertise to identify how they can best contribute and provide resources that makes engagement easier.

  • Develop a content library that includes presentations, e-books and articles so employees can easily follow up with educational material when a customer expresses interest in a topic.

  • Encourage employees with deep expertise or interest in specific technologies to start or participate in special-interest meetups.

  • Train all of your employees to be more active listeners when they are dealing with clients.

Stand in Your Customers' Shoes
As an ongoing practice, spend time objectively evaluating how easy it is for your customers to work with you.

  • Is it easy to find a contact number and e-mail on your Web site? Is there a differentiation between a sales contact and a support contact?

  • Continually improve your customer-response process with automated rating requests and randomly following up with customers to ask how the process could have been better.

  • Call your office and listen to the options of your automated answering system. Is it easy to understand what to do? Does it route you quickly? Can you get to a real person?

As the relationships between cloud customers and partners change -- with less time working side by side -- your employees need to make the extra effort to proactively engage. You can't expect employees to change their habits without guidance and support. Invest the time to implement the programs and develop the resources that will give your employees confidence in taking that extra step.

How are you strengthening relationships with customers? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 17, 2016 at 7:07 AM