Article

How to grow your customer base

Learn the best ways to win new customers and keep the old.

By Patrick Grieve

Published August 26, 2020
Last updated November 26, 2020

Need more repeat customers? You’re not alone. Businesses of all sizes struggle to win over new shoppers and to inspire brand loyalty in the ones they already have. Pulling off both at the same time is even harder.

These repeat customers are known as your customer base.

What is a customer base?

Your customer base is the group of people who regularly purchase your company’s products or services.

The key to growing this group is acquiring and retaining new customers. While marketing plays a role in the process, sales and support teams are usually responsible for winning and keeping new users.

In this piece, you'll learn:

  • What sales teams can do to attract and engage prospects
  • What customer service teams can do to strengthen the relationship between your customer base and your company

How sales can expand your customer base

Sales reps are the first point of contact when it comes to growing your base. Winning more customers means getting more leads and getting them more interested.

Identify high-value prospects

To acquire more high-value repeat customers, you need to understand your existing base and target similar shoppers.

Analyse the client data captured in your customer relationship management database to determine what types of buyers make the most repeat purchases. Then, build buyer personas which reflect those demographic and firmographic details. A good buyer persona will include the hypothetical prospect’s industry, age, salary, education level, wants and needs.

Buyer persona example

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Next, find and qualify actual leads who match the fictitious buyer personas of your customer base.

There are many channels for lead generation, including:

  • Display advertising
  • Social Advertising
  • Paid search

To cast a wide net, consider using Zendesk Reach

It gives sales reps access to a database of over 20 million businesses and 365 million prospect records. Agents can then instantly generate targeted lead lists based on industry, company size, or other variables.

When your targeted lead list is ready, you can start messaging top prospects via email and other channels. Or you can automate outreach with the integrated communications channels in Zendesk Sell.

Let leads have something for nothing

You can’t rely solely on outreach efforts. It’s also important to build leads’ interest in your business after the initial connection.

Providing complimentary trials or a freemium model of your product is a great way to generate excitement from leads. Or consider giving something away in exchange for the lead’s contact details. The free item could be gated content, such as a PDF download, or something more substantial, like prototype software.

Use a lead scoring model based on your buyer personas to separate the valuable prospects from the weak leads.

For example:

  • A student who downloads a gated report from your website is probably only interested for academic reasons
  • But an executive-level employee who requests a free demo of your product could very well be your next big sale

To speed up the process, use a CRM with lead scoring capabilities to automatically qualify leads who request free content or services. If a lead’s traits meet your buyer persona criteria, the CRM recognises them as a marketing qualified lead, or MQL, and notifies a sales agent. Your CRM can also automatically send outreach messages to these leads, so no time is lost in cultivating the relationship.

How support can strengthen your customer base

It’s a good idea for sales reps to keep in touch with customers even after the deal is closed.

This helps to:

  • Identify upselling opportunities
  • Preserve the relationship

But the primary responsibility for customer retention belongs to support teams. It’s their job to provide the kind of timely, targeted service that inspires brand loyalty.

Make it easy for your customer base to keep in touch

According to Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report:

  • Customers believe that the most important aspect of a good customer experience is being able to resolve issues quickly
  • They also feel that long waiting times are the most frustrating aspect of a bad customer experience

So if you wish to retain your customer base, speed is of the essence.

To keep clients engaged and satisfied, offer quick, convenient communication options.

For example:

  • Run a virtual call centre so you can have support agents distributed across multiple time zones
  • Set up a 24/7 chatbot so customers can always contact your business when they have questions or concerns
  • Monitor social media mentions, and resolve complaints on these public platforms

Omnichannel support software helps support agents easily connect with customers across multiple channels.

For example, Zendesk’s Support Suite gives agents a single set of tools and processes that work the same on every channel:

  • Email
  • Chat
  • Voice
  • Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other apps

All conversations are visible in the same dashboard and can flow from one channel to another, regardless of which channel they started from.

By simplifying the process, the software helps support agents provide faster customer service.

Develop a churn-reduction strategy

It’s hard to grow a customer base that periodically keeps shrinking.

A certain amount of churn is inevitable, since some customers leave for reasons beyond your control. That’s why it’s so important to identify all of the preventable causes of churn and come up with a plan to curb them.

Create a customer churn survey that asks departing customers why they’re cancelling their account. To make sure you get some answers, build the survey into the user interface for the cancellation process. Ask customers to rate their overall experience with your company and indicate the reason they’re leaving.

Analysze the feedback and compare with:

Look for common complaints and identify the issues contributing to your churn rate.

Use your findings to come up with an actionable churn-reduction strategy. A lot of the burden will probably fall on customer service representatives, but there may also be a role for sales and marketing teams.

How sales and support can work together to serve your customer base

Zendesk’s 2020 survey found that 70% of customers expect companies to collaborate on their behalf. So instead of siloing sales and support, align those departments.

Both teams possess important customer information, so they should work together to share this knowledge and provide exceptional service.

Consider using a shared customer management platform, where sales and support teams can trade data. Zendesk Sales Suite, for example, combines Sell’s sales automation and Support’s ticketing capabilities:

  • Support agents can flag sales reps whenever they identify an upselling opportunity
  • Sales reps can redirect technical questions to support agents for prompt resolution

By making it easier to match a customer with a solution, the software offers another way to help increase customer service speed.

Leverage technology to constantly grow your customer base

Figuring out how to drive customer acquisition while also improving retention rates is easier said than done.

Both your sales and your support teams need to be firing on all cylinders—targeting potential buyers and providing excellent service to existing customers.

To give your people the best chance at success:

  • Empower sales agents with a CRM that helps them find, qualify, and reach out to promising leads
  • Give support teams a platform to organise and assess customer information
  • Break down barriers between the two with integrated software, such as Zendesk Support and Zendesk Sell

With a closer connection, sales and support teams can help each other identify opportunities for upselling and customer support solutions.

Explore current customer experience trends

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