The Value of the Customer Experience

How do you ensure your customers are having the most positive customer experience plausible?

Is it possible the value of your marketing and advertising results, or lack thereof, is in direct relationship with how your customers interact with your brand and how your customers are treated once they enter the door?

Imagine you have a great marketing strategy, and customers are coming into your storefront, but the sales numbers are still not hitting your desired mark. What would your next step be? Yes, we could throw some more money into marketing and advertising, and it may increase traffic for a short while. However, 9 times out of 10, when the sales aren’t converting, despite strong marketing efforts, it may be time to look internally at the quality of the customer experience.

Business Colleagues Together Teamwork Working Office

There are dozens of tools on the market nowadays to assess website analytics, listen to incoming calls, and to help identify where a breakdown may be happening. Do you know how your customer service representatives are answering the phone? Is your website getting traffic but you’re still not seeing any online transactions? Lastly, how are you responding to requests for refunds, returns, or exchanges? You may find it valuable to audit your incoming calls and do some coaching with your reps on how to better convert phone calls into sales. There’s also a chance customers don’t understand how to add items to their cart online or can’t find the product they are looking for on your website. Customers should be able to easily get in touch with your business for any issues related to their purchases, or they will be less likely to purchase from you again.

Some other things to consider: are your employees on the sales floor warmly greeting each person who walks in the door and answering their questions? Do you find value in ensuring the store is clean and tidy and easy to navigate? If you have social media, is your business responding to incoming comments, messages, and requests for information?

Additionally, do your customers feel valuable when they make a purchase? You may find value in customer appreciation efforts. A hand-written thank you note for buying a pair of glasses from your eye clinic, or a personal phone call for ordering a customized item online can let customers know their specific transaction was valuable. Even simpler, an automated ‘Thank You’ email after a purchase could do the trick, too.

Issues with revenue may sometimes be attributed to external factors or lack of attention to marketing. However, no amount of money invested in radio, print, and tv ads can convert a poor customer experience into sales for your business.

Authenticity 101

Authenticity.

In a culture curated by filters and seemingly flawless images, what does it mean to be authentic? Is it valuable to you for customers to see your brand as authentic? The way the consumer perceives your brand will ultimately determine whether they become your customer or not. Here are some things to consider when thinking about authenticity.

1. Can your customers see the vision behind your brand?
Your target audience may be broad, or it may be specific. Either way, this group of people has a set of values and standards and will make purchases from brands which align with those values. Do your promotional materials, website, social media and customer service convey those core values? It needs to be obvious you are a business who prides itself on its quality assurance and customer satisfaction, always.

2. Is your brand approachable?
As a kid, we would write letters to the President and our favorite celebrities in hopes to get a response and feel ‘seen’ by them. While you may not be the President, interacting with your customer base on social media is a great way to connect with the people who directly support you. Consider a personal response to a ‘fan’ (read: customer) to show there’s some humanity behind your brand name. It’s also great publicity and branding if your message or tweet back to a customer is shared!

2018-01 Authenticity 101

Can customers easily reach a representative on the phone or do they receive an automated machine? If customers feel a company is too big or too busy to care about them personally, they may also feel as if their purchases don’t matter either. Authenticity can be created by simply having a customer service representative available to personally answer phone calls.

3. Is your brand respected?
Are you seen in the community as a name people can stand behind? Is it possible there’s a charity, school, or organization within your community you could support? It’s worth considering community service projects to get you and your staff involved in giving back. This, of course, needs to be genuine, but the kindness will ultimately tie compassion and generosity to your brand.
Oftentimes we think we are completely authentic by owning up to faults or adding a ‘Meet the Team’ page to your website. While these are great strategies and are recommended, there’s added value in going the extra distance. Authenticity creates depth and personality to your brand, and results in higher customer retention rates, brand engagement, and at the end of the day increases your bottom line. What is your brand doing to become more authentic?

Getting the Most out of our Day

Prioritizing Made Easy (Easier)

As leaders, many of us wonder how some people get so much done, while we are still under a desk load of things needing to be accomplished and never seem to catch up. If any of this sounds familiar, you have either mastered the skill of time management or you are wondering if this is a skill you will ever achieve. Hey, the new year is just around the corner, so now may be a good time to look at this skill. The good news is this can always get better and a little focus could go a long ways.

Steven Covey, well known speaker and author, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” covers his even habits. Habit number three focuses on this – Put First Things First. It is so important, he even has a book specifically on this topic, “First Things First.” Time management is a skill for life, not just work, that carries a great amount of weight to it. Those with great time management skills can attest, when

The Big Rock – Little Rock concept is not necessarily new. For those visual learners, it is a great tool to help see the bigger picture in time management. Too often some may get caught up in the little things (which may or may not need to be done,) – for different reasons. As leaders, by focusing on the “Big Rocks” sometimes the “Little Rocks” will take care of themselves. If you have a team you work with, consider doing the Big Rock – Little demonstration with them to help them better understand the importance of prioritizing their day/week and the value which comes with this type of short and long term planning.

Do Business and Politics Mix?

Lessons We Have Learned (Maybe)

In the past couple of weeks, we have seen more passion for our political process than many of us can remember seeing and hearing in a long time, if not the most in our lifetime. The beauty is in the big scope of things; we are still seeing many people passionate about what they believe to be “Our America” and we are protected by the very First Amendment of the United States Constitution to express our beliefs freely and openly.

As a business owner or President of a company, you have one goal, which is in your mission statement of core values, and in the bigger scope of things, and regardless of whether you sell widgets or serve people, you must ensure your company is around to support the people who work for the company – growing professionally, getting paid, etc. A decision also must be made towards whether you talk about politics freely with your team, your customers, or your community – and if so – what could be the ramifications if this is not met with the same openness and passion which it was intended. By many accounts, there are three things which should not be talked about in the workplace – religion, sex, and politics. This, however, is for good reason.

Business and Politics Blog Cover

In the past week, just after the election, many companies have come under fire for “mixing” business and politics. Take GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney, in his post-election e-mail to his employees. In this e-mail, he ended it with asking those to reply to this e-mail with their resignation if you do not agree with his statement. The e-mail went public, and GrubHub had to spend time re-communicating this message. At a further look, they are a publicly traded company (NYSE: GRUB) and their stock went from almost $39 per share on November 10th, to a low of $34.88 on November 11th – a loss of about 10%, when the broader market was up approximately 1% for the same period.

One can also look at New Balance. They have had some backlash with their support and people have been burning their shoes and vowing to never buy from them again. As a private company, they don’t have shares “in the market” but they do have people who buy their shoes and I am sure they don’t want to lose sales. This challenge exists for all businesses and how “politically active” should they be, if at all.

Of course, if legislation is preventing your company to some degree, of course one can’t remain silent. But in seeing what has been happening the past election, we may need to “think and plan a bit more” in deciding what and how we communicate when a company decides to jump in to the political arena. There is good reason to avoid the big three – religion, sex, and politics – in the workplace – and this past week has made it clear the potential challenges businesses face when mixing in one, of these three.

How to Make Your Customers Your Biggest Cheerleaders

In today’s fast world of communication bad customer service will spread like a wildfire. AND, so will great customer service. Repeat customers, and customers who refer you, are the epitome of a successful business.

In working with our clients, we often find our conversations turning to customer service. As someone who runs a business, either as the owner, manager, or both; you know how important great customer service is to your business. The questions we have to ask ourselves are:

  • How do we know we’re giving great customer service?
  • Are we asking our customers?
  • How is our referral and repeat business growing?

If you were to ask ten of your customers how they would they rate your business, what would they say? And how likely are they to recommend your company to a friend, family member, or neighbor? Lots of questions and yet no answers.

How to make your customers your biggest cheerleaders blog

What you can you start doing today (or in the near future):

  • Define excellent customer service. What does this mean for every employee/team member in your office?
  • Measure it! Ask your customers, create a questionnaire to see if you are giving the type of service you want to be giving.
  • Set expectations and provide any necessary training.
  • Reward improved performance by team members. Recognize improvements as they happen along the way. All positive reinforcement.
  • See if you can reward your current customers in a way which wows them. Maybe this is better service, maybe this is a gift (think outside the box), and if you need ideas, ask your team and your customers. They may have some great ideas you haven’t thought about.

If we invest in advertising our business, then we need to invest the time in checking on our customer service to answer these important questions. Our customers should be our biggest cheerleaders! Think about this: If your receptionist, cashier, sales person, service tech, etc., is not giving service to cheer about, how much more do you have to invest in advertising to hit your business goals for the year? It all starts with the person greeting your customer for the first time, whether on the phone or in person. Either way, this is the first impression your customer gets of your business. Is the impression your customers are getting a WOW or is it a dud? (P.S if it isn’t a WOW, then maybe it is a dud!) In many businesses, this first interaction with the customer may be the deciding factor towards making the decision to do business with you. Could the first impression improve? And if it can improve, what could this mean for your business?

An effective marketing plan will help your business and its goals. Even more importantly, an incredible customer experience from your team will really help your goals. The money spent in training and in rewarding your current customers will provide a solid return on investment, immediately and in the future.

 

 

Proactive Reputation Monitoring and Management

At the heart of any successful business/brand is a healthy repeat client base, as well as an ongoing referral base. With an endless amount of review and social media websites, staying on top of what is being said about your business and rapidly addressing both positive and negative impressions is crucial to protecting your businesses online reputation. We know you work hard everyday to provide great service and the last thing you want to do is leave your online reputation to chance.

According to a recent Neilsen survey, “Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential form of advertising, as 84 percent of respondents said this source was the most trustworthy.” As the biggest influencer in consumer buying decisions this needs to be given a higher priority by local businesses.

Proactive Reputation Monitoring blog

Reputation Out of Control

We can’t always eliminate bad reviews or bad references about a business, but we can look to correct the things we can control. If the internet is showing unfavorable things about your business, true or untrue, we can take a look at the details, assess the real damage, and then chart out a course of action to work to improve this. There is no simple cure for a poor reputation online, but a steady diet of increasing good online content about your business will start to heal it.

Being open minded about this process will help get a solid start. It doesn’t take a study today to share with anyone that online reviews are important as many consumers to them to help make their decisions. Looking for a new restaurant to eat at tonight? What does Yelp say? Looking for a contractor? What information can I find on the BBB or on Angie’s List. A difference of one “star” in average rating led to difference in revenues of 5 to 9 percent. ~ 2011 Harvard Business Review Study.

Consumers trust recommendations from their friends and social networks. When you have a positive online reputation, you will convert more leads and referrals into paying customers. We work with our clients to proactively seek out feedback from their customers to gain insight into what their customers are saying about their business. We also look for opportunities to improve the online reputation in helping to generate an increase in positive customer feedback across the internet.

Generating an increase in positive reviews has additional benefits. With increased positive activity surrounding your business, a relational increase has been seen in overall web traffic. You have all seen listings where search results list the businesses with the better/best reviews closer to the top. When your business is closer to the top, it has a greater likelihood of getting chosen.