A close friend mentioned that he was in a restaurant recently and was astonished at how poor the customer service had been – this was particularly disappointing as it was a good quality restaurant and still relatively new.
This comment coincided with another made to me by a friend who commented that she only ever seems to go to a restaurant 3 times – first to try it out and be pleased, the second time to take others as she has recommended it and after the third she would swear never to go to that restaurant again due mostly to variable food and poor customer service.
You may have a great product, but if the service is poor, consumers will not bother and this can make or break your business. None of us much patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting for a menu or that first drink you are gasping for. We get fed up trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.
Whatever business you run, if you provide your customers with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they might tell others how good your business is!
There are a number of secrets to good customer service, the first one is knowing exactly what YOU want.
You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that must include customer service. There are 3 main goals you need to consider:
- It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with help guides, advertised discounts, easy-to-follow prompts, your website and other technology based programmes to help them shop.
- Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff must be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Regular training is an essential part of investing in your staff’s knowledge. Most importantly, your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their entire shopping experience.
- You must change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers.
With these thoughts in mind, regardless of how big or small your business, you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programmes and standards you’ll put into place.
- Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff – make sure they’re on board.
- Connect your staff incentive programmes and bonuses directly to customer service.
- Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out by regularly surveying your customers.
- Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
- Continuously focus on your business goals.
Now, that you know what you want, you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.
Remember, if your customers have a good experience of your business, they might tell others how good it was – if they have a bad experience, they absolutely will tell everyone they know about that too!!
If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our FREE test drive can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.
After presenting at a recent seminar, in the Q&A session, one person asked a great question; “How can I make sure that I can run a successful and reusable marketing campaign?”
These are the 5 elements that I shared that I consider essential for any campaign to stand a chance of success.
In my opinion, the 5 essential elements are:
- Define your Market Dominating Position (MDP)
- Create an effective sales offer
- Avoid the marketing pitfalls
- Use a world-class marketing perspective
- Get results!
Simple! We’ll go through each one of these, so you can see exactly how to use them and how they all affect the overall outcome of your marketing campaign. Once you have these basics down, you can use them over and over again.
1. Define your Market Dominating Proposition (MDP)
Most marketing I see is about what you do, what you sell, how you operate!
Take the time to ask yourself some questions from the perspective of the customers/clients. What would it take to get your attention? What needs do you have that need to be met? What are the promises you want fulfilled?
Once you know the answers to these questions you can start putting together a plan to meet these needs. Then take a look at what, if any, MDP your competitors are using to help you develop your own MDP. Your MDP is what you are “promising” your customers/clients. This is what’s going to set you apart from your competition – you will most certainly need to specialise and you may also need to innovate!
2. Put an effective sales offer to work
To develop an effective sales plan, you need to follow a number of steps:
- Put together a headline that interrupts your prospect and gets immediate attention.
- Share benefits of your products/services but from the customers’ perspective.
- Identify the specific needs met by your products/services.
- Make it easy to do business with you by offering no-risk guarantees.
- Share your specific sales proposition.
- Walk your customers/clients through how they should respond and act.
- Motivate with a clear, striking and no-risk call to action.
What this all means is, you need to put together what makes your products/services special and compel customers to buy them. But, remember, if they don’t feel like they NEED your product, they won’t buy. You also need to plan for the fact that they may need to buy but not yet. You may, therefore, need to answer a question, solve a problem or even feed an obsession.
You need to provide them with all the information they need to make an informed and confident decision. Buyer’s remorse is one of the worst things that can happen.
3. Avoid the marketing pitfalls
There are a number of major marketing pitfalls that many businesses fall into and you should avoid:
- Ignore market testing and push on with a poorly researched and inaccurate plan.
- Offer an incomplete case, or reasons, throughout the marketing plan.
- Failure to understand the true needs of prospective customers/clients.
- Failing to diversify the marketing options.
This list is not exhaustive, but these are all areas to avoid. If you’ve been working through these blog articles, avoiding these pitfalls should be easy and natural.
4. Use a world-class marketing perspective
Having a world-class marketing perspective is important, especially if you want to attract customers/clients from all over the world. You can do this a number of different techniques and activities:
- Benchmark against the best-in-class marketing companies. As an example, I have always viewed Guinness as one of the best examples of powerful and compelling marketing that has kept a 258 year old brand fresh and exciting!
- Linked to this, watch for high quality marketing everywhere you can find and keep a file for future ideas to consider.Always keep an Ideas Journal and scribble down any innovative ideas that occur to you or that you see that you might be able to replicate.
- Encourage your marketing department, marketing partner or yourself, to measure everything and then to try new things and dump the things that aren’t working.
- Continuously test market your marketing activity. This is the only way to stay successful and know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not.
- Try finding your own marketing as if you were a prospect and then order from your own company under a different name and analyse the process of ordering, shipping, online store, customer service and the product itself. This may show you areas for improvement in the customer experience.
- When out in public, watch how consumers or business customers behave in different situations and how they consider their purchases. Look for how this might apply to your own business.
- Take the opportunity to step down a notch or two and work on the front lines with your sales and customer service staff.
- Continuously acknowledge hard work from your staff and vendors – not just the successful results. Everyone works better when they feel appreciated.
- Seek out and always listen to feedback from employees and customers. Remember, all feedback is a gift!
- Offer more relevant and engaging information in your marketing than anyone else. The more information you offer, the more products/services you’ll sell.
- A great marketing plan can only get better. Continue to fine tune and refine your marketing plan based on testing results and feedback.
- Be classy in your marketing. Make sure your marketing and advertising fits your company image, products/service and quality.
- Focus on what you say and how you say it, don’t worry so much about where you say it. The best marketing ideas, if implemented effectively, turn into the best marketing naturally.
- Develop all your ads, campaigns and sales materials as if you were wanting to include everything you’ve done into a portfolio of your work. Never produce a piece of marketing that you are not proud of!
By using these techniques you can put your name out there to the world and become one of the top brands in your chosen industry.
5. Get results!
The last area to talk about is the best-satisfied customers. If your customers aren’t satisfied, you’ve wasted all your marketing resources and all chance of positive word-of-mouth advertising. You can satisfy your customers by:
- Providing quality products/services
- Providing high quality customer service
- Providing a low-pressure, highly informative sales experience
- Taking all the risk away with a great guarantee
As an additional benefit, here’s a couple of simple techniques that work every time to generate more business and create more customer engagement:
- Build your database with a contest.
- Do regular mailings with sales, discounts, or other incentives.
- Find other creative ways to keep your current customers coming back for more.
Guinness will tell you that “It takes adventurous spirit and irrepressible ingenuity to do things the Guinness® way” – perhaps if you approach your marketing with an adventurous spirit and an irrepressible ingenuity, then your brand will be standing proud in 258 years time!
The Imora Marketing Academy
It is so simple! So, why aren’t you starting today? We can help you put together a great marketing plan that will get you results. Try our FREE test drive and find the tools and resources you need built by some of the biggest names in the marketing world.
I’ve seen 2 social media posts recently where people have been reaching out for support (both with a very generic ‘Looking for a business consultant’ message which, in both cases, has turned out to be not quite what they were looking for).
Anyway, in both cases, they had a string of responses/offers on the social media platform, in one case over 100 separate offers. These were things like “I can recommend Joe Smith”, or “I can help you” or the one I really loved “Hey PM me”.
In both cases, I hunted on the internet, found a phone number and rang the individual. Now, I don’t know whether they will become clients or not – depends on whether there is a fit – but in both cases, I was told that I was the ONLY person to have made a telephone contact!!
Why are we all hiding behind social media?
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great tool for connecting, but you have to know when to drop off the social media and make it personal.
Think about it from your own perspective, when have you ever bought ANYTHING just from a social media connection?
So, come on gang, if you see an opportunity and it feels like there’s a good fit – stop broadcasting, pick up the phone and make it personal!!
If my experience is anything to go by, you will absolutely be in the minority!!
I recently read a fantastic article in the Guardian where a 36 year old journalist, Stuart Heritage, (right) explains that he has just bought his first house. (I have 3 sons who are all generation-rent, so the article had real resonance!)
Is he excited? No. He is drowning with buyers remorse! Given his decision-making process, this remorse might well be for good reason (have a read and make up your own mind) but, for you, as a business who is selling a product or service, how can you avoid your customers experiencing buyers remorse?
First, it’s important to understand what buyers remorse is:
Post-decision Cognitive Dissonance is the formal name for the feeling of disappointment a person has after they have bought something significant, when they think they might have made a mistake.
There is a great deal of psychological theory behind ‘why’ this happens, most notably by Art Markman who is a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. You can find more of Art’s work HERE.
But second, let’s explore what you, as the seller, can do about it.
We are in a very different world to the one of 20 or 30 years ago, and fundamentally, people hate being sold to. So, your starting point now must be based on the fact that interactions with you need to be:
The importance of belief in your product or service and building trust with your customer can not be underestimated, and these traits are only possible if you’ve provided a quality product or service that delivers on the marketing claims you’ve made.
But even if you are inviting, informative and enjoyable to deal with, and the product or service you’ve sold is exactly as you promised, you may need to do other things to avoid buyers remorse getting into bed with your customer. Tried and tested mechanisms are;
- Offer to refund money – no questions asked
- Offer a bonus they can keep even if they return the product
Remember, one purchase is an order – two purchases is a customer!
These two offers alone will also mitigate buyer’s remorse because the customer will trust you more, just for offering these things, and we touched on above, trust is an essential part of the sales process. The good news is that there are loads of other ways to turn a first order into a regularly buying customer, which also help to minimise buyers remorse:
- Offer a special price as an opportunity for you to test the market.
- Offer package or bundle deals. This makes direct comparisons much more difficult.
- Offer a referral incentive.
- Offer a smaller, more inexpensive product first to build trust.
- Offer to charge less for their first purchase if they become a repeat customer.
- Offer extra incentives – longer warranties, free bonuses if ordered by a set date.
- Offer financing options, if that’s applicable.
- Offer a bonus if they pay in full and / or upfront.
- Offer comparative data or other comparison tools.
- Offer a trade-up or upgrade from something they already have.
- You might even offer a lower price with the reason of pushing inventory to pay a tax bill, for your kid’s’ braces, or another tangible reason. Depending on your market, customers may well love that this makes you feel so much more human.
- Always try to offer additional, educational information to help them make their decision.
There are, of course, numerous other options and the choice may depend on what’s relevant for your market. Feel free to use this list of ideas to find what works best for your business, products/service and target market. Remember this…
“By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational, inspiring and fun to do business with you, you’ll lift your company above the competition.” Jay Abraham
And above all, build trust!
I love making bread – it’s a real Sunday treat for our family – I’ll get up early and as the rest of the house is waking, the intoxicating smell of freshly baking bread, often parmesan and sun-dried tomato flavoured, is meandering it’s way up the stairs!!
It’s not always been good bread though.
A few weeks ago, I had an aberration and completely forgot to put the yeast in – I then tried to add it after the bread had proved – horrible mistake that I won’t ever make again (hopefully)!
The incident reminded me of the Morecambe & Wise sketch from the early 70’s when they had, as their guest, André Previn. Eric Morecambe was trying to demonstrate his musical prowess and when Previn complained that Morecambe was playing the wrong notes, he famously retorted that he was playing all the right notes, just in the wrong order!
The same is true in the business world. There are 5 key ‘ingredients’ required for any advertising message to be impactful – and there is a correct order for those ingredients to go into the marketing mix.
- Commanding Attention
- Showcasing the Benefits of Products/Services
- Proving those Benefits
- Persuading People to Embrace the Benefits
- And, of course, a clear and compelling Call to Action
It’s worth remembering that advertising is simply sales in print.
So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. That’s not always easy, especially as many markets are becoming increasingly commoditised, so you might ask your existing customers what your products or services really do for them. The point is that, it is critical that you emphasise results, not features.
So, let’s just take a minute to talk about each of these 5 ingredients:
- Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with a stand-out headline. You need an attention-grabber that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement. It tells the reader why they should pay attention.
- Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. Remember, this is not about how long you’ve been in business or that you might or might not be family owned! They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
- Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
- Persuade: You need to add compelling and reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create a feeling of scarcity (limited availability). This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into the last component.
- Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. Raising awareness is good, but if you need sales, encourage an action. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something. Offer a freebie – perhaps a booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering from you, many of which you may not have thought of, and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.
Good adverts include all of these components, positioned and delivered in the right order and an advert is not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place them together for the most effectiveness.
And, in case you haven’t got the message, if you want to make better bread, don’t be like me! Make sure that you use the right ingredients in the right order … then you’ll make plenty of great bread!