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Are You Easy To Do Business With?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 13, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

easy.jpg

Have you asked your customers this question?

First, what do you think they'll say?

Now, ask them. You'll be surprised what you learn.

Customers are looking for products and services to make their lives simpler, easier, and save them time.

Show the consumer that you understand their needs, put them first and you'll have a customer for life. Do not assume all customers want the same thing. Have a 360-degree view of the customer for all your employees so everyone in your company can let your customers know you're concerned with their needs and wants and committed to providing them with a great customer experience.

Providng a great customer experience and earning customers for life needs to be a core value. If it's not you'll just be driven by this month's sales goals. If you put your customers first, sales will take care of themselves and the time and money you spend on marketing will go down because your customers will do your marketing for you by becoming advocates and sharing with their friends and colleagues how easy you make it for them.

Please be clear when I say "provide a great customer experience" that this isn't that hard. It's meeting customers' basic expectations. It's easy because so few companies are doing it. Ultimately this will be how your company can differentiate itself from the competition. However, it does require a change in attitude and focus.

Remove the distractions (a.k.a. "friction") for your employees and customers. Employees want to make customers happy. Happy employees make happy customers. Engaged and empowered employees have passion, pride, and confidence in their ability to provide a great customer experience and customers call tell it.

Think about the companies you go to on a regular basis that make it easy for you to do business with them. They've likely earned your loyalty, gratitude, and repeat business.

What can you and your employees do to make it easier for your customers to do business with you? Ask them.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: customers for life, customer satisfaction, customer engagement

Integrated Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jul, 11, 2016 @ 08:07 AM

 

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When I started in marketing and advertising years ago, I learned the importance of integrated marketing - ensure there's consistency of message across TV, radio, print, direct mail and out-of-home. Today, integration is more important than ever given the addition of web, social, email, mobile, and SEO/SEM.

Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust.

Given the number of channels across which our messaging is disseminated, it's easy for marketing communications campaigns to fail.

  1. Message are fragmented, or incongruent, across media channels.
  2. There's little to no strategic planning, let alone messaging planning.
  3. The campaign process is slow, or non-existent, and uncoordinated.
  4. Companies are unprepared to share information across the organization (i.e. silos) and the information is frequently inconsistent.
  5. There's a lack of transparency and cross-channel communication.
  6. There's no on-going dialog across the organization, sharing insights, how the customer interacted with tthe communications, what worked and what didn't.

Integrated marketing today menas collecting all customer information from all channels and integrating it to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so you can meet their needs and wants without asking them to tell you what they've already told someone else in your company.

Incorporating all online and offline data provides you the opportunity to personalize your communications with customers and ensuring you are providing information of value that's relevant to them and where they arein the buying cycle. You can answer the customer's question before they ask it. You will save them time and become easier to do business with, thereby earning their trust.

More knowledge, greater segmentation, more consistent and relevant will lead to more conversions in shorter sales cycles.

In addition, tracking the customer experience (CX) after the sale, across multiple touch points, enables your to build an ongoing relationship with the customer and gives you a better opportunity to create a "customer for life" rather than a single sales event.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: customers for life, customer experience, consistent messaging, integrated marketing

Integrity Results in Customers for Life

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jan, 07, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

Integrity gets customers for life

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrity means doing what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it. It's the imperative foundation for creating trust.

 

If you cannot guarantee something for a customer then do not make them a promise.

 

Provide the best insights, advice and recommendations you can and leave it at that. Making commitments that are questionable will lead to your customers having questions about you, your word and your firm.

 

If you do happen to make a commitment you cannot keep, let your customer know as soon as possible. Do not wait until the due date/time, it just erodes your credibility further.

 

Explain why you cannot keep the commitment. If you've built sufficient positive equity with your customer over the course of your relationship, they'll forgive you. Just don't make a habit of it or you'll surely run out of equity.

 

Never lie to a customer -- it's hard enough to keep up with the truth.

 

You can never thank a customer too much. Thank them in person, thank them over the phone, via e-mail and especially with a handwritten note. In this day and age, a handwritten thank you note is very powerful.

 

Find creative ways to thank your customers and show them you appreciate their business. Amazon used to include bookmarks with their books. I thought this was a great value add and advertising vehicle for them but they stopped.

 

Thank your employees for treating your customers well. They're on the front lines with customers representing your business. Treat your employees the way you want your employees to treat your customers.

 

A company's commitment to provide outstanding customer service starts with senior management. That level of commitment is reflected by every employee. Zappos is a great example of this.

 

Ensure that you and your customer's definition of excellent service are congruent. Set or define expectations early in your relationship to minimize confusion as the relationship expands. If you're not sure what your customer's expectations are -- ask them!

 

A friend of mine, Dr. Ralph James, wrote a book for the construction industry called The Integrity Chain. While Ralph wrote the book for the construction industry it is relevant to any industry. The premise is, without integrity you will have fewer customers and less revenue over the long-term. I could not agree with him more.

 

Do you and your employees just want to make the sale or do you want customers for life?

 

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Tags: customers for life, do what you say you will do, trust, integrity

Improve the Customer Experience (#CX) by "Checking In"

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 02, 2014 @ 00:12 AM

customer experience satisfaction and improvement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you or your company has made a sale of a product or service to a customer what do you do next?

 

Do you know if the customer was satisfied with their purchase?

 

Did they find value in what they bought?

 

What's working or not working for them?

 

What are they telling others about you and your product or service?

 

Customer experience management and customer satisfaction and retention are still woefully underfunded and underemphasized relative to demand creation, lead generation and sales even though an existing customer is more likely to buy from you again than a new customer is for the first time.

 

Once a sale is made, let the customer support team know so they can send the new customer a satisfaction survey to learn how the buying process went.

 

When the company engages with the customer after a transaction, it makes the interaction feel more personal, like a relationship is being formed, rather than a one-time experience.

 

The insights you gather by interacting with customers will be invaluable.

 

Get sales, marketing and customer service to sit down and map the customer engagement experience you would like customers to have and then use you marketing automation platform or customer service reps to implement the multiple touch-point program.

 

Don't stop there. Ask your customers about what they think of your plan.

 

This will vary depending on the type of product or service being sold, as well as what the customer defines as a positive, or better yet, outstanding customer engagement experience.

 

Learn when to send a Net Promoter Score survey and how to follow-up on the results of the survey. Have a closed-loop process for handling feedback and resolving all detractor comments.

 

Determine how many times you should touch a customer who has bought an annual subscription/contract so that they're not just hearing from you in month 11 when it's time to renew.

 

Mapping the customer experience journey, measuring customer satisfaction and then committing to improve it is a great way to generate more revenue from the same customers and have customers for life.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, consumer insights, customer experience, net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, customer retention, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement

One Thing EVERY Company Can Do To Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 17, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

free wifi > customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just attended the Internet Summit (#isum14) at the Raleigh Convention Center.

 

I heard plenty of speakers sharing statistics about the growth of the internet, the growth of mobile and how to use the Internet to improve customer experience.

 

Ironically, internet access at the Raleigh Convention Center became limited as the attendance reached 2,000 people.

 

The one thing every business can do to improve the customer experience is to provide an always on, high-speed internet connection.

 

We're all using mobile devices, or laptops, to do business, research, stay in touch and stay informed.

 

By providing always-on, high-speed internet access, you're making your customers', and employees', lives simpler and easier.

 

Making customers' lives simpler and easier gives you a better chance of having a "customer for life."

 

Making your employees' lives simpler and easier gives you more empowered and engaged employees that are more likely to provide your customers an outstanding customer experience.

 

Conferences will have happier attendees.

 

Hotels will have happier guests.

 

Airlines/airports will have passengers that are able to get work done, or stay connected with their loved ones, even if their flight is delayed.

 

Restaurants and coffee shops will provide a valuable service to guests whether they're there on business or pleasure.

 

Businesses will ensure their clients, customers or guests are able to say connected while they're in their offices or stores.

 

How would high-speed internet access differentiate your business from your competition?

 

How would making your customers' lives simpler and easier change their impression of, and willingness to continuing doing business with, you?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, customer experience, customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer retention, satisfied customers, customer centric, employee engagement, employee empowerment, customer service

10 Ways Professional Service Firms Benefit from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Oct, 07, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

content marketing for professional services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've had the opportunity to work on the client-side for, and on the agency-side with, a number of professional services firms including accountants, lawyers, consultants and financial advisers.

 

All of these firms, and the professionals that make up these firms, will reap multiple benefits from content marketing.

 

Here are 10:

 

  1. Build awareness of the firm and the professionals by sharing information of value, case studies and testimonials on a regular basis via blog posts on your website and in the social media channels where your clients and target prospect frequent.

  2. Provide a service, and build trust, by answering clients' and prospects' questions in an open, honest and transparent way. Make the buying journey easier by answering questions before they are asked or suggesting ways prospects should be evaluating a firm like yours.

  3. Gain trust by being an unbiased source of information in your area(s) of expertise. Be the first person, or firm, someone thinks of when they think of the services you provide.

  4. Become recognized as the thought-leader in the industry by addressing and raising relevant topics of interest and sharing your unique point-of-view on the issue.

  5. Drive traffic to your website via inbound marketing by having the appropriate calls-to-action on the information of value you are sharing.

  6. Generate leads for your firm and your professionals by providing more detailed information of value on your website or landing pages.

  7. Start a relationship and dialog with a potential client who has a need for the services which you offer when they respond to information you have shared.

  8. Nurture marketing qualified leads, with information of value before pursuing them as sales qualified leads. This will make the sales process much more productive for everyone.

  9. Improve grassroots SEO by generating more keyword optimized content on your website. You will be crawled more frequently by the search engines since your website is constantly growing and you'll be found more often since your site will have more relevant keywords.

  10. Drive sales. More visits = more leads. More leads = more sales.

 

A professional services firm has a lot of information of value to share with prospective customers -- from the solutions you have provided previous customers to the answers to questions that have been asked by your current prospects and customers.

 

The key is collecting, documenting and sharing the information of value.

 

If you need any help, please let me know and I'll be happy to put together a content marketing plan that will help you and your firm reap the benefits fo your knowledge.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, customers for life, trust, information of value, content, call to action

Improve Customer Experience (#cx) to Accelerates Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Aug, 26, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a white paper, "The Business Impact of Customer Experience 2011," Forrester showed the potential results of an improved customer experience in 11 industries.

 

The research was conducted among 7,728 US consumers about their interactions with brands in a range of different industries.  The data was used to model the effect that providing an improved customer experience may have on companies in 11 industries.

 

Analysis showed a high positive correlation between customer experience and loyalty with people willing to buy from the company again (R2 = 0.66), likelihood to recommend the company (0.70) and likelihood to defect (-0.40).

 

The strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty means that companies with higher customer experience scores tend to have more customers who:

  • Will buy from them again;
     
  • Will not take their business elsewhere; and,
     
  • Will recommend their products or services to a friend.

 

All of this generates more revenue.  In fact, here is how much incremental revenue Forrester projects for each industry based on their projections:

  1. Wireless service providers = $1,574 million
     
  2. Hotels = $1,068 million
     
  3. Airlines = $784 million
     
  4. Insurance providers = $260 million
     
  5. Credit card providers = $245 million
     
  6. Banks = $217 million
     
  7. Investment firms = $149 million
     
  8. TV service providers = $81 million
     
  9. Health plans = $70 million
     
  10. Internet service providers = $70 million
     
  11. Retailers = $27 million

 

I worked on a customer satisfaction measurement and improvement program for a wireless service provider several years ago.  By reducing churn by 29% we saved $16.2 million in potentially lost revenue.

 

Companies I've consulted with most recently, are more concerned with generating sales than increasing customer satisfaction, maintaining renewal rates and reducing churn.

 

They are adding to their sales team and doing nothing for their current customers.

 

While these companies are owned by private equity companies, your would think the private equity firms would see the value in having satisfied customers since they spend more, buy more frequently are are more likely to share their positive experience with family, friends and colleagues in person and with followers via social media.

 

Why do companies spend more money to generate new leads and customers than they do providing an outstanding customer experience and adopting a "customers for life" philosophy?

 

How much are you investing to provide a better customer experience?

 

How does the ROI of providing a better customer experience compare to the ROI of the rest of your marketing efforts?

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Tags: customers for life, accelerate sales performance, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales

3 Keys To Success -- Visibility, Credibility and Relationships

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 28, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

3 keys to success for you and your company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the blog posts I've been writing over the past few years, I'm seeing a trend in the three things every person, and every company, needs to be successful today:

  1. Visibility

  2. Credibility

  3. Relationships

Following are my thoughts on ways for individuals, and companies, to improve each:

  • Visibility
  1. Build brand awareness by sharing information of value.
     
  2. The more you blog, the more awareness, traffic and leads you will get; your SEO rankings will improve as well.

  3. Use P.R. A lot of people think P.R. is dead in the age of social media. However, there are still plenty of vertical trade publications, and websites, looking for information of value to share with their readers. P.R. is another channel in which you can repurpose content.

  4. Leverage all of your content to educate your customers and your prospects. It's amazing what you can learn to do on your own by searching YouTube. C-level executives are 7-times more likely to look at a video than to download and read a whitepaper.

  5. Stay active on LinkedIn. Update your profile, your company's profile and actively participate in, and contribute to groups. I've found groups to be a tremendous resource when sourcing products and services.

  6. Have a mobile presence -- especially if you're trying to reach millennials. 80% have a smart phone, 85% of Hispanics. Ensure all of your digital communications are mobile optimized.
  • Credibility
  1. Build extreme trust. "Do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it."

  2. Be consistent. While some people say, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," it's the only way to build trust. Consistency = trust. Inconsistency = confusion and distrust.
     
  3. Ensure your management team, and employees, are in alignment with regards to vision, mission, values and what makes you "different and better." Lack of alignment results in inconsistent messages to customers and prospects.

  4. Another reason to provide information of value is to build credibility. Providing information of value early in the relationship lets the prospect get to know you. Don't sell, just educate.

  5. Empower employees to deliver a consistently good customer experience. Consistency builds trust. "Wow" customer experiences will create "raving fans" that will help market your product or service.

  6. Put the customer first in everything you do. Help customers win, make their lives easier, and you'll have customers for life.

  • Relationships
  1. Strive to have customers for life. It's like aiming for the moon, even if you don't achieve your goal, you'll positively differentiate yourself from the competition.

  2. Have face-to-face conversations with your customers and prospects to get to know them as individuals. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Face-to-face conversations help to build long-term relationships.

  3. Help customers make an emotional connection to your brand by letting them get to know the people that comprise your brand. People connect with other people. Empower and encourage your employees to connect with customers and prospects -- in person and via social media.

  4. Listen intensely to your customers and prospects to understand their needs and wants. These consumer insights will lead to new product development, service enhancements, new revenue streams and repeat business.

  5. Referrals and word-of-mouth are still the most powerful, and cost efficient, forms of marketing. Give your customers experiences they want to share with others.

  6. As you enhance your relationships with your customers, you'll find that they want you to be successful. Don't be afraid to let them know how they can help you.

What actions can you take to make you and your company more successful?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book
 

 

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customers for life, consumer insights, information of value, alignment, extreme trust, face to face communications

Help Customers Win to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 24, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

 

help customers win

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the pleasure of hearing D. Keith Pigues, author of Winning With Customers,  speak to the Triangle American Marketing Association on "Helping Companies to Win by Helping Customers Win."

 

Here are four questions to ask to help your customers win:
 

  1. Do we know specifically how we help our customers make more money?

  2. Do we understand how we will help our customers make more money in the future?

  3. Do we measure, and track over time, how much money our customers make by doing business with us?

  4. Do we measure and track how much more money our customers make doing business with us versus the competition?

 

I doubt very many companies can give a positive and informed answer to all four questions.


The key is to develop such a good relationship with your customer that you can have this conversation on an ongoing basis, know the answers and help your customer improve revenue and/or reduce costs. 

 

Your customer's reality should be your reality.

 

Does every member of your management team know what makes you "different and better?"

 

Does every employee know what makes your firm "different and better?"

 

Does your home page tell prospective clients what makes your firm different and better -- what you can do for the customer, different and better, than the competition?

 

To be successful and sustainable, you need to know the differential value proposition of your business -- how much more does the customer make doing business with you versus the competition?

 

Identify the revenue or cost associated with each product or service your provide your customer.

 

Identify the two or three differential value attributes that add value to customer revenue or reduce costs more than the competition.

 

These are invaluable insights to have that will improve your customer relationships as well as increase the likelihood that you will have customers for life.

 

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book  

Tags: customers for life, transparency, trust, earn your customers trust, consumer insights accelerate sales

2014 Retail Emotional Loyalty and Customer Engagement Leaders

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Feb, 17, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

emotional loyalty and customer engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 18th annual 2014 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) has been published by Brand Keys.

 

The survey looks at emotional engagement expectations relevant to "brand buzz," "shopping experience," and "value for the dollar" as the strongest influences on consumer decision making and engagement with brands.

 

According to Brand Keys, meeting expectation for the category ideal correlates with brand engagement, purchase loyalty and sales.

 

Companies that are more emotionally-driven are likely to have higher expectations that grow faster while more rational categories have lower expectations and move more slowly.

 

This is vastly more complex than Net Promoter Score (NPS) which uses just one question, likelihood to recommend, to measure a company's performance through their customers' eyes. Like CLEI, there's also a strong positive correlation between a company's NPS score and it's financial performance.

 

Following are the emotional and engagement leaders for the 2014 retail category:

  1. Apparel -- Victoria's Secret = 81%

  2. Athletic Footwear -- Nike = 91%

  3. Department -- Macy's = 80%

  4. Discount -- Walmart = 93%

  5. Home Improvement -- Home Depot = 87%

  6. Natural Foods -- Whole Foods = 90%

  7. Online -- Amazon.com = 93%

  8. Price Clubs -- Sam's = 94%

  9. Sporting Goods -- Dick's = 83%

 

I find it interesting that Costco is behind Sam's even though Costco's 78% NPS score leads the retail industry.

 

I am not surprised that Zappos is number four behind Amazon.com since it falls consistently behind it's owner. However, I find Zappos delivers a far surperior customer experience. Zappo's will talk to you as a human being. Amazon will only correspond via automated, or impersonal, email.

 

Lastly, it is interesting that Trader Joe's is number three behind Whole Foods even though it leads the NPS grocery category with an NPS score of 63%

 

Granted CLEI and NPS are apples and oranges. It would be interesting to see if the financial performance of the high-performing CLEI companies is equal to or greater than high-performing NPS companies.

 

Regardless, differentiating your brand on customer service, providing an excellent customer experience (#cx) and delivering on your promise increases customer loyalty and engagement and is a smart business strategy and a great way to keep customers for life.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customers for life, loyal customers, loyalty, satisfied customers, customer engagement