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In this blog post, Nic Franklin, Account Manager at Huble Digital, explores how you can grow from having a  task-and-delivery based relationship with your customers, to a strategic and consulting relationship; simply by asking the question: "why?".

Back in my days as a cocktail bartender, I learnt a customer service secret that has helped me wow clients and customers regardless of what I’m doing. Always have a drunk audience? It doesn’t hurt, but the real secret is to ask a simple question: “Why?” 

(Yes, Simon Sinek coined the “start with why” revolution, but I promise this all occurred before I read his book.)


The bar I worked at was a popular dinner spot, with a large portion of our customer base being young couples. Normally, in a bar like this, the waiter or waitress would come to your table, leave a menu and say something like “Would you like a drink?”, and perhaps mention something about the specials. After a short time, they would come back and ask what you’d like. What we found was that young couples would often order a bottle of the house red or white, and a Peroni (the basic on-tap lager).

Everyone assumed these were the most popular options because they were the cheapest. But that was wrong; there were much nicer beers and wines at a similar price point. 

So I asked myself: Why? Why are these young couples coming to our venue? To drink cheap wine and beer? No, they could do that at a pub! These couples are coming to us because they want an experience and to be seen as people with discerning taste. They just don’t have the culinary experience to know the difference in their choices! These couples would pick the house wine and the Peroni because they were safe choices (and possibly because they couldn’t pronounce “Montepulciano”).

Knowing this about our customers, we made a simple change to our customer service process. When a customer asked for either of the house wine or Peroni beer, we would always suggest one of the middle-range options with similar flavours. Approximately 95% of the time, the customer would take the suggestion. This inflated the customer’s sense of self, helping them to look and feel like that “discernable person with good taste”. They could go home and talk about the Montepulciano or Cabernet Merlot blend they had at our bar. Not only would they return, because we had become a trusted advisor, their friends would also come to try “the Montepuloochi...something...great medium-bodied red” their friend had suggested. 

So what has this got to do with digital marketing, you ask? After all, you’re not reading a digital marketing blog to learn how to sell more Italian table wines!

The lesson here is that what the customer asks for isn’t necessarily what they want or need. I’ve always hated the saying: “the customer is always right”. It’s tripe and, in 2020, has never been further from the truth. We live in a world where every piece of information that has ever existed is at our fingertips. We are all armchair doctors, chefs, and marketers (to an extent) thanks to Google. This access to information gives us a false sense of expertise, because it often lacks two things: experience and context. 

This is why, when our customers come to us with a task they’d like us to carry out, we always ask why. In fact, like a petulant child asking why they must eat their greens, we ask it at least five times: why, why, why, why, WHY?

Why, you ask? Because diving deeper into our customers’ needs and problems allows us to find solutions they wouldn’t find themselves. After all, they are coming to us because they don’t have the internal expertise or resources to solve the issue.

Here’s an example. A client comes to us with a simple task-based request: “Hey Nic! We would like help with a PPC campaign because a quick google search said PPC is a great way to drive leads.” 

But is it? Let’s ask why.

Why: “We want to drive more targeted traffic to our site.”

Why: “We need to deliver better leads to our sales team.”

Why: “We need to prove that the website is useful in generating leads.”

Why: “We need a quick win to deliver leads, to prove that the digital marketing team is effective at generating leads.”

Actual Why: “Because the board wants results from the digital marketing team.”

This “actual why” is a long stretch from the initial ask, but having this deeper understanding of the client’s needs enables you to transform your relationship with the customer. This transformation is from a task- and delivery-based relationship, to a strategic and consulting relationship; one where you can start to solve their real business problems in the short and long term. 

Using the example above, we could deliver a PPC campaign for the client, but if their website isn't performing well, and their content isn't engaging or optimised, we will see an instant drop in traffic once the PPC campaign stops. Does that deliver on the real customer need? No. Just like the couple in the bar, delivering what they ask for will make them happy, but delivering something more than that will turn them from customers, into evangelists.

The one thing I hear from my clients is, “OK, that's great in theory, but how do I find the time to deep dive, deliver and exceed customer expectations?”. That's where 2020 gets good (finally!) and Marketing Automation comes in to take over the admin, allowing you to focus on your clients’ unspoken needs and wants. 

Marketing Automation Software, like that available in HubSpot's Marketing Hub,  saves you and your team countless hours on follow-up emails and lead nurturing, while connecting your service, sales and marketing teams. With time saved and increased visibility of your customer lifecycle, you can merge analytics and insight to deliver customer-centric solutions to problems clients don’t even know they have yet. 

To find out more about HubSpot and building closer relationships with your customers, check out HubSpot Enterprise tools here — while enjoying a glass of 2014 Montepulciano, bellissimo!

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