How many cloud-based marketing apps and services do you use? How many of them connect to each other? Has it all grown organically, or was it planned? The last few years has seen a dramatic rise in the number of marketing related services that are available in the cloud. Some of them are free, others are cheap as chips and some are relatively expensive.
Many enterprises now capture (in a GDPR compliant fashion) customer contact information which triggers a series of events. For example, an automated Welcome email; a record being created within a CRM system; and a task for a salesperson to contact the customer. If you are already doing this, that’s great – however most businesses are not doing so (or anything close to it).
It is important to see the whole thing from the customer’s perspective. Is the software helping them? Is it easy for them to use? Does it actually work? What do the metrics tell you about customer behaviour? How can you improve performance and results?
To what extent does the software give you a competitive advantage? What is the strategic thinking behind the deployment of these services? Have you implemented back-up and recovery processes?
I am on a fast train to London and I am sitting at a table with my laptop placed in front of me. It is plugged in and charging up. I have connected to Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi and it is running well. However, just in case, I always carry a mobile router in my business case. Currently, I am using one from 3 which offers 4G where it is available.
I have my iPhone on the table as well and from time to time it lights up with social media push notifications; I have just received one from LinkedIn which tells me that I have another 1st degree connection there.
When I travel abroad I take my Chromebook which weighs around a kilogram and the battery lasts all day.
Personally, I feel somewhat lost when I am not online, during the working week. I need to keep on top of emails and I have found that the Gmail app on my iPhone 6 is a great way of doing this.
How about you:? Are you always online? Is this a good thing, in your opinion?
“Thank you for your rapid response!” a prospective new client wrote in an email. “I am waiting for some other consultants to get back to me, so please bear with me for a few days.” I wonder why so many suppliers take so long to respond to sales enquiries? I imagine that they would tell me that they are busy (who isn’t?) Do they like it when people are slow to respond, when they are looking for quotations?
I wonder how fast you are at acknowledging enquiries that arrive in your email in-box or by phone? One way of keeping on top of emails is to install an email app on your phone (i.e. the Gmail app which is available via Google Play). When I am travelling, I keep a close watch on my emails and I acknowledge receipt of sales enquiries either immediately or as soon as possible i.e. at the next break during a training day or consultancy session.
I am extremely lucky to be married to Joanna, who used to work as a PA in central London. Joanna answers the phone when I can’t get to it and I CC her when I email sales proposals. I ask clients who book my consultancy, training or speaking services to ‘please respond to both of us and we will organise everything for you.’
How fast do you turn quotations / proposals around? Personally, I turn them around quickly, usually within a couple of hours of receiving the enquiry and quite often within the hour. I think that that speed of response to sales enquiries is a message in its own right. It says: “We are here. We care about you. We are reliable. If you work with us, this is the level of service that you can expect in the future.”
Does integrity matter in marketing, or in business for that matter? Seeing this question from the customer’s perspective, they like to be treated well. If there is a problem, they want it resolved quickly. Companies can save money by cutting down on service levels, avoiding their responsibilities and controlling customer communications through the use of technology.
What effect does this have on their reputation? What happens when customers start to leave them in droves (a certain UK utility company comes to mind).
Integrity is part of a person’s character. The character of a company’s founder / owner is mirrored within their brand personality. Can you think of a famous person for whom this applies?
If you run a business or are responsible for marketing, take a moment and think about your values. What matters to you? What do you believe in? The answers to these questions will feed into your brand, website, social media campaigns, advertisements, printed matter and your entire promotional mix.
Every business has a quick answer to this question. When I ask my seminar audiences, they are happy to describe their customers to me. However, I wonder how deep their knowledge goes?
In post industrial fast moving economies, the lines have become blurred, when it comes to trying to pin people down in terms of job title or demographics. In the last century, the paper that I read, my postcode, job title and age would give you a reasonably clear idea of buying preferences. This has become much more of challenge in recent years.
Business to Business: The usual attributes include: organisation type, job title and where they are based.
Consumer marketing: Typical attributes include: gender, age, socio-economic group and where they live (i.e. postcode).
Additional information (B2B and B2C) would include who influences them, and what media do they read, listen to and watch?
Think in terms of a timeline: dormant, current and prospective customers. What are the differences between these different groups?
Questions to ask yourself include: who influences the buying decision? Does your promotional mix reach them? Who makes the decision to buy? Why would they buy from you again?
Many buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. This far outweighs the direct influence of social media on buyers. How can you reach the people that influence the sale is a key question to ask yourself.
An email marketing list can be really helpful – particularly if subscribers reveal information about themselves via a sign-up form. This can be cross referenced to the customer lists within your CRM. Your CRM should have a considerable amount of information about your customers (taking into account the data protection legal requirements).
Surveys can help, however, it can be difficult to get people to help with this. Haing said this, I am amazed by the small percentage of companies that bother to ask for customer feedback. The easiest way to get feedback is via a smartphone, by the way.
Above all, you need to continually talk to customers and meet with them in person. No machine or software program can replace the nuanced information that happens when two people talk to each other.
Finally, try and see your brand, products and services from your customers’ perspective. If you were one of your customers – what would you think of your marketing, service and performance?
In human relationships, trust is everything. When it comes to marketing goods and services, there is a shift in terms of where trust originates from. Throughout the world, companies have worked hard to build trust in their brands through advertising and other forms of paid for messages.
Today, we rely increasingly on the opinions of strangers, when we are making purchasing decisions of all kinds. For example: Amazon (star ratings and customer feedback); LinkedIn (Skills and Recommendations); airbnb (star ratings and guest reviews). Before they buy in-store or online, customers often search for the “product name” + “review” and all sorts of interesting information comes up.
Human beings love to talk. With over seven billion of us, there is a lot to talk about, including buying experiences. Companies have perished, stock prices have collapsed and management have been fired following bad press. ‘Press’ refers to print media. In the 21st century, as well as newspapers, magazines, TV and radio most of us now walk around with smartphones – which have become an extension of our brains.
Do you need to check a product / service fact, price or availability? A few taps on your phone and Voila! A vast compendium of information is instantly available. We take smartphones for granted, however, the Apple iPhone was only launched in 2007.
About 5% of us are active recommenders and we will not hesitate to give positive feedback and unpromoted recommendations to family, friends and work colleagues regarding goods and services. That leaves a silent majority of 95%. Except that smartphones now gives everyone the opportunity of instantly voicing their opinion on every buying decision that they make.
The reputation of your company and brands is build on your reputation. During my work with over 3,000 enterprises, I have found that reputation is a key deciding factor when it comes to assessing their future. It is no longer sufficient to rely on product, price, place and promotion (all of which are within ‘company control’). We have to taken into account customer conversations which are happening all around us, particularly within the digital space. Many of these conversations are hidden and therefore cannot be measured.
We live in interesting times, don’t we? Your reputation capital should be high on your list of priorities.
Marketing is all about customers. Finding them is supposedly the hard part. Keeping them is a different thing entirely. Various encounters that I have had this summer, with a wide variety of enterprises, has made me think about customers and what they appear to mean to different organisations.
A large financial institution comes to mind. I had an issue that needed resolving within one of their departments. It transpired that the department could not help me. The problem was that they they didn’t know who else could. Two months, dozens of phone calls and emails later I finally resolved the matter. I think that they have lost site of what a customer is. As far as I am concerned they saw me as a nuisance, which is funny really, as I have been a customer of theirs for over 40 years.
The financial institution in question has many parts, hundreds of offices and thousands of staff, many of whom I have got to know quite well, as I was passed along the chain of “how can I get rid of this guy?” If there had been one person who could have looked after me and resolved my challenge, I wouldn’t be looking at alternative suppliers (of which there are many).
I have called this blog “Putting the customer at the heart of your business” because for human beings ‘Feelings R Us’. If you feel good about a purchase, you may well tell your friends and you may also return for more of the same product / service. The pleasurable experience can last for a long time. Sadly, it does not take much to upset us, does it? An unkind word or gesture; not being listened to; or a myriad of others things can upset the balance of our emotions.
Many companies are product focused. I understand this, as running a business is tough enough without getting all schmaltzy about the customers. Having said this, the products don’t have feelings, do they?
Here are some ideas for you:
* Try and see your products and services from your customers’ perspective
* Ring up your company and see what the reception is like
* Map out the customer journey and see what you put them through
* Keep track of customers within your software, i.e. your CRM
…see: Capsule CRM review
I am busy marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author. My wife and I have four (grown up) children, one house, one garden and our own business.
My email inbox is empty (again). My diary is packed with appointments. My office bin is full.
Here is my philosophy of dealing with the huge flow of emails, social media interactions, post and telephone calls that I receive:
* Answering the phone within 4 rings
* Calls are answered by a human being, not a machine
* Appropriate action always taken after each in-bound call
* Answering emails swiftly, i.e. within 1 hour of receipt
(and quite often within 30 seconds)
* Keeping a clear email inbox
* Filing emails, so that they can be found easily
* Using a CRM every business day
* All contacts are in one place: the CRM
* Answered swiftly, i.e. within 1 hour
* Appropriate information captured within the CRM
* Sending quotes / proposals promptly
* Follow-up system in place
* Confirm location, start and finish time, attendees etc by email
* Turning up on time
* Focusing on the agenda (and not wandering off it)
* Finishing on time
* Politeness is important, at all times
* Remaining calm also helps
An acronym that may help you (it certainly helps me!)
* Delegate (if it is someone else’s problem)
* Action (do something about it)
* File (so that you can actually find it, but why not…)
* Throw (…it in the bin or delete it)
How easy is it for customers to do business with you? How many ways can they find your enterprise? How many ways of contacting you are there?
Buyers are busy. If a business is slow to respond, difficult to deal with or unfriendly, it is all too easy for them to go elsewhere.
See your enterprise from your customer’s perspective. This can actually be quite hard to do. If someone finds you for the first time – what will their first impressions be? How will they judge your website homepage and Contact us page? How fast do you respond to emails? What if they try to call you – will a human being answer the call?
Large companies use Mystery Shoppers who go through the buying experience and report back to the company. Could you do something similar?
At the end of the day, ease of doing business wins.