Focusing on customer retention, The Hidden Power of Your Customers outlines author Becky Carroll’s methods used to create business growth through cultivating existing customers. As founder of Petra Consulting Group, Community Manager of Verizon and panelist at numerous industry conferences, Carroll comes from an esteemed business pedigree grounded in practical experience. Carroll also has a hand in academics, teaching social media at UC San Diego with an emphasis on customer experience and marketing. Her clients consist of multiple Fortune 100 companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Ford, as well as smaller businesses and nonprofits.

Sectioned into four main parts, The Hidden Power of Your Customers thoroughly discusses the importance of customer service through the lens of:

  • Relevant Marketing;
  • Orchestrated Customer Experience;
  • Customer-Focused Culture; and
  • Killer Customer Service.

Each of these sections contains practical tips and a real-world case study to anchor the discussion. During a period in which wide-reaching marketing is tantamount to financial success, the information presented is contemporary and relevant to brokerages and companies seeking to establish an affirmative client-based experience in the current market. Brokers and agents can use The Hidden Power of Your Customers as a tool for client expansion and retention through positive interactions and “killer customer service” in the post-Boom market.

Most helpful to agents and brokers reading Carroll’s methods are her suggestions for relevant marketing campaigns. From offering membership program­­­­­ ideas, to social media tools and language usage suggestions, The Hidden Power of Your Customers illustrates marketing techniques proven to entice customers by making them feel valued, rewarded and unique.

Discussing the importance of social media as a marketing tool, Carroll states, “Make a plan. Don’t just begin to blog or start using Facebook because everyone else is doing it. Your social media strategy needs to be as well thought-out as the rest of your marketing mix… Set goals, define guidelines for your internal team, test these ideas with customers, and ask for their feedback” (Carroll 43). Such pragmatic advice is relevant for any real estate brokerage or business looking to expand in the contemporary market. Ultimately, Carroll’s techniques will bring customers back for more (and hopefully with a friend or two).

Still, the book is less data-driven than it could be, focusing more on proposals for brokerages and businesses to follow to increase revenue, most of which are based upon common knowledge. The book is full of broad suggestions, such as:

  • “We ask our customers to buy our products, join our loyalty programs, even ‘Like’ us on Facebook. We strive to inspire ‘raving fans.’ But are we fans of our customers? Fan-ship should be a two-way street” (Carroll 37); and
  • “Killer customer service is one of the keys to unlocking the hidden power of your customers. Companies that ‘get it’ will be capable of rebounding from difficult times faster than those that don’t. They will have loyal customers who shout about how great these companies are to anyone who will listen” (Carroll 186).

Such content provides for a quick and easy read, but does not prove to be especially insightful for agents and brokers who are already familiar with the basic needs of their clients.

Reader friendly and easy to comprehend, The Hidden Power of Your Customers is intended for any real estate agent, business person or company interested in optimal customer relations. Because the book is not written specifically for real estate, Carroll does not exclusively address California real estate or make any future real estate projections. Nevertheless, agents and brokers can use the methods presented in this book to establish connections with new clients, and more critically, nurture relationships with existing clients, the drivers of their business. Stressing that the experience of existing customers is just as important (if not more so) than the acquisition of new clientele, Carroll establishes marketing, customer experience, customer-focused culture and stellar customer service as the fundamentals to business growth.

For more book reviews, visit first tuesday’s Book Review page.