Building healthy relationships with customers, old or new, is vital for SEO agencies.
Even if you built trust with your customers during the initial phase of onboarding, maintaining the strength of those relationships is an ongoing process.
More than ever, it is important for SEO agencies to invest time and energy to keep their customers consistent and satisfied – not just for the first 30 days.
This is where customer success comes into play.
Customer success measures how satisfied your customers are, which has a direct impact on your customer retention rate.
A high customer success rate means a low churn rate, which equates to less time and resources to acquire new customers.
By tracking customer success metrics, agencies can constantly improve their customer interactions to aid in long-term loyalty.
And even potentially attract new customers through word of mouth.
If you can get good customer success, then you can turn your customers into your greatest promoters and brand advocates.
As the world transitions from offline to online operations, search professionals must find ways to stay close to their customers even when they cannot meet with them in person.
The way to do this is through regular reports and proactive communication.
But how should SEO professionals approach these activities in the age of the new normal?
We surveyed some leading SEO experts to gather their insights into how to manage customer relationships during the coronavirus pandemic and to get tips for other agencies to apply during these unprecedented times.
Promote customer loyalty in a remote-first environment
How did you deal with your customers before the beginning of this year?
Some SEO experts were already set up to operate remotely, but many agencies previously relied largely on face-to-face meetings to encourage customer loyalty.
The customer success managers we spoke to suggested some useful insights for SEO pros making this offline-online transition to keep driving positive customer relationships:
Be more proactive in all of your customer relationships
Typically, SEOs communicate a lot with clients during the onboarding process. Thereafter, the interactions between clients and agencies usually consist of formal meetings for reporting and informal meetings for answering quick questions.
However, in the age of the new normal, companies are still adapting to remote work settings, and during this transition period some customers have missed reports altogether.
Just because it slipped through the cracks of her inbox.
SEO pros can prevent them from being seen or heard this way in a number of ways:
Set the frequency of meetings
According to Larisa Buduroes (Head of Customer Success at Upswing) it is important in the current climate to clearly define the frequency and purpose of each meeting in order to keep customer communication focused and efficient.
Michael Transon, CEO of Victorious SEO, also notes that some clients have seen a surge in growth since February. As a result, these customers are requesting fewer reports and meetings than before.
Most importantly, some customers in a remote environment have found that meeting more often doesn’t necessarily lead to better results.
While others are more keen than ever to keep up to date.
So be prepared to adjust the meeting frequency to the individual needs of your customers.
Go to them before they come to you
According to Laurel Stewart, it’s important to be regular and proactive in making sure everyone is aligned with business goals.
Right now, as marketing budgets are under scrutiny and SEO pros need to prove the ROI of their campaigns more than ever, search pros need to make sure that their activities are consistently geared towards creating the greatest possible impact for customers.
You should also be proactive in suggesting things customers can do to meet their business goals.
There may be new keyword opportunities they can take advantage of or a new trend that could affect campaign performance.
Reaching customers reminds them of your worth even when there are no face-to-face meetings.
Track customer success
Do your customers read your reports?
Are you happy with what you see?
It’s important to get in touch with your customers to know how they feel about your performance and to make sure they appreciate the value of their SEO efforts.
Be it through personal meetings, calls, surveys or tools for order tracking.
One reason why proactive communication is more difficult these days is that almost every company has their preferred communication channels – Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp, Slack.
The list goes on.
As Larisa Buduroes points out, this means that SEO professionals need to adapt to different media in order to maintain customer loyalty in a remote first environment – a topic that kept coming up in our conversations with industry experts.
Optimize online operations with video conferences and surveys
Video meetings are everywhere now.
And while they don’t exactly replace in-person meetings, they’re the closest some of us have been able to mimic the pre-pandemic customer meeting experience.
When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, video calls are especially important – as long as you keep everyone’s video feeds.
Both Larisa Buduroes and Madalina Mihai, Head of Customer Success at SEOmonitor, emphasized the importance of receiving customer feedback through facial expressions, non-verbal cues and body language.
Things that cannot be transmitted over a voice-only call.
However, some meetings are even better in person.
This could be due to the type of customer, industry, or campaign, but sometimes issues need to be resolved or discussed in person.
In this case, Larisa Buduroes says that her team will still meet a customer in person. For example, when a better understanding is required of a project that is in the investigation phase or requires several changes of direction.
In other words, optimize video conferencing whenever you can, and still be ready to customize it based on the goals of a particular meeting.
Customer Success Surveys
Video isn’t just useful for meetings. It can also help SEO professionals automate their customer communications in a way that still feels personal and authentic.
For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Upswing CEO sent a video message to all customers to make sure they knew how everything was changing (strategy, communication practices, etc.) to help keep their business safe.
Support the customer success team to keep track of their portfolio in a remote work environment.
Similarly, Larisa Buduroes says that Upswing tweaked its customer satisfaction survey to analyze how the relationship has changed during the pandemic.
Since the change, client response rates have remained roughly the same as before the coronavirus. This shows that tracking customer success digitally can be just as effective as tracking in person.
One area where digital surveys cannot compete is in collecting more detailed customer feedback.
For this reason, SEO professionals should contact any customers who report lower satisfaction rates in a video call to give them a deeper understanding of how to improve customer relationships.
Keep your reporting process up to date
It’s no longer enough to keep clients happy – SEO agencies need to prove themselves through the reports they provide.
Reset expectations in the current environment
Customers now have higher expectations for reporting.
Client company CMOs want to be more closely connected to agencies as they need to report her Boss and justify all marketing expenses.