Archive for customer touchpoints
So many people think that their brand is their logo and hence their brand reputation relies on it. And yes, they’re right – that’s part of it – but it’s just a part and a very small part at that.
Your brand reputation is also made up of;
- your products and services – the spread you offer, how good your products/services are, how long your deliverables last, if they live up to customer expectation
- the experience your customers have when dealing with you or your staff whether that’s in store, on the phone, online, in print
- the experience that other people ‘hear about’ in terms of what you’re like as a business to deal with
- what’s going on in the industry, media, regulatory circles that might affect you or your customers
- how the business owners respond to any issues or crisis
- any touchpoint (website, business card, blog, social media posts, billboard, sales presentation, networking approach, brochure, you or your staff personally – what you/they wear, drive, etc) your customers come into contact with and form perceptions about.
In other words, your brand’s reputation is made up of anything and everything a customer or their gatekeepers know, see or feel about your brand.
And let’s face it, some of things on that list – you just can’t control. Sometimes damage can occur with a rumour getting out of control or experiencing plain bad luck. Sometimes, you might even be dealing with larger things like industry issues, demographic/economic issues or government regulation.
So what does that mean for you as a business owner?
In a nutshell, control the things around your brand reputation that you can control – especially the easy things like anything to do with your customer touchpoints – like your website, brochures, sales pitches, office interiors, branding, key messages, etc.
Make sure everything to do with your business is customer centric and your branding efforts are as consistent and as well produced as possible. Why? Because everything you do communicates – good, bad or inconsistent – it’s all part of your brand reputation. And if it’s inconsistent, your customers sense at a very deep level, that all isn’t quite as it should be and even if they can’t explain why, they’ll often look elsewhere – somewhere that ‘feels’ more ‘right’.
One of the things that almost all business owners are guilty of at some point is straying from their key messages – usually because they’re bored with them. Back when I was repping (a thousand years ago), my sales manager would say, “never deviate. Just because you’re bored with the message doesn’t mean the customer is.” Wise words indeed. Research tells us that it often takes 5-13 times for the message to sink in with the customer. And if you keep changing it, at best all you’re doing is tarnishing your reputation by confusing the customer. At worst, you’re making them feel uncomfortable – and uncomfortable customers will seek comfort elsewhere. And let’s face it, that’s not great for your reputation either.
If we can help you build or boost your brand reputation with your clients and customers, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can drop us a line here.
I’m just reading through Hubspot’s 2013 marketing predictions. I got to number two – Inbound marketing to business grows enterprise wide and had to write this. This is NOT a prediction. It is something that smart business owners and good marketers have known for an incredibly long time. Let me explain.
According to the prediction – marketing will no longer sustain its own department. Um, yes it will – someone (call it marketing, communications, PR, sales) has to do a lot of the work, ensure that the messaging is correct and consistent and have a plan in place to keep the effort going, which is key to the success of all marketing efforts.
BUT they are right in that good marketing is organisation wide. Ie: it doesn’t matter what the folks in marketing or sales do or how good your website or systems are, if;
- anyone in the service or customer support chain doesn’t care about the customer or is having a bad day or
- the shopfront or office ‘feel’ is off or
- the product or service doesn’t live up to expectation or
- the after service support either doesn’t exist or is painful for the customer (or someone else in the chain if you’re a manufacturer).
If your customer is experiencing either pain or even just a disconnect anywhere in your touchpoint process, very likely there are choppy waters ahead (and there’s a solid prediction for you).
Hubspot say this prediction is being driven by the customer being in control. Nope that’s not right either. The customer shouldn’t control your business (it is after all YOUR business) – BUT they should be at the very heart of all things that you do. And smart marketing people and business owners have known that for a very long time too.
To be fabulously successful (whatever that means to you), your business needs to revolve around WIIFM or the 5 most important words in the English language – What’s in it for me? from your customers’ perspectives – through every step of a customer’s interaction with you (from materials, websites, forms, reception, sales, media stories, product/services, customer service, after-care). If it does, you can pat yourself on the back for apparently ‘being ahead of your time’. If you’ve been doing it for a decade or longer – no doubt you’re running a spectacularly successful business.
It is however, harder to get WIIFM right than it might seem on the surface. Lots of clients have told us that they find it hard to get out of their own way enough to see what dealing with the business is like from a customer perspective. And let’s face it, when you’re writing materials, designing your interior or talking about your wonderful product or service, you want to spending time on your favourite subject – you (and that’s okay by the way – everyone does, but it’s not what your customers/clients need to feel/see/experience).
That’s where an external marketing agency can help – they’ll be able to see things you might not and/or that you might have been willfully blind to in the past. You might also consider going down the path of using a mystery shopper service too (especially if you’re a volume business like travel, tourism, childcare, gyms, retail or healthcare). Both bring different strengths to the table and both can highlight places where you might be losing new sales or losing longer-term customers. And getting and keeping customers makes for stronger businesses.
So if you’re looking for better 2013 marketing predictions for your business or you’d like to answer WIIFM better or your business needs a customer-focussed marketing makeover, we’d be delighted to talk to you. Feel free to get in contact or join us on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.
Today I’m speaking at Sydney Business Month on blogging and d’oh – I realised I hadn’t blogged in while. Or rather let me clarify – I haven’t written my own blog for a while. I’ve written blogs on GST, the cloud, accounting, starting businesses, closing businesses, seniors in business and women in business – all of which were done for clients. Anyhoo back to my own less than stellar blogging attempts, why anyone would bother doing it and “what is a blog?”
Given you’re probably every bit as busy as me – why would you take precious time out of your week to blog? There are several reasons;
- It does drive new business. Hubspot research showed nearly 60% of all businesses that blog saw it contribute to new business coming through their door.
- GOOGLE!! Blogging drives your position on Google. Okay – less than video, but let’s face it, it’s most likely quicker to knock up a blog than it is to put a decent video together
- Blogging builds opportunities for you and your business. Those opportunities might turn up in the form of new business – but they can also turn up, just as importantly, in the form of alliances, partnerships and relationships.
- Writing a blog for your business allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry
- You can bask in the warm glow from contributing to the wider online community – you never know who you might help
- It can save you time answering those pesky questions that keep cropping up – you can point people to your blog instead
Best of all it allows for people – ie: your potential customers or those considering building relationships with you to get to know you before they pick up the telephone or put their fingers to the keys to send you an email. Many prospects will require several interactions with you before they purchase. In fact if you’re selling something that’s a little more complex than say lipstick or chips, prospects may require up to 10-12 interactions with you before they feel comfortable enough to do business with you.
Blogging and sharing on social media – as part of your integrated marketing activities, will cover off a couple of those interactions – or touchpoints. Having a great website also contributes.
If it’s at all possible, have your blog on your website. Why? Because you want visitors to click about a bit to see what else you do whilst they’re there. Google analytics (a requirement if you’re using your blog for business) tells me that every time I write a blog I get a spike in traffic. And most people have a squizzie at at least 2 other pages whilst they’re here. Especially if I direct them using links like this (which goes to my marketing makeovers for small business page).
It doesn’t really matter what you do for a living or what type of business you run – blogging will drive traffic once you do it consistently. And that’s the key. Set aside an hr every week or every fortnight and, as Nike says, JUST DO IT! After you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll find you discover your ‘voice’ and it gets easier – the writing, not the setting aside time! At some point you’ll look back and you’ll have built a veritable repertoire of (mostly) useful content.
For other tips on blogging you might like to read this earlier blog on 11 tips to getting started with blogging – which is more of a how to and rules of type blog.
If you’d like to forgo the pain of the flashing cursor and no ideas of what to write about, you might like to get a fresh blog topic delivered daily to your inbox – drop me a note. Or you can join me on Facebook or LinkedIn (look right – and click on the buttons) where I share lots of great content about marketing, building business and using social media for client engagement. Do mention my blog though, otherwise I might think you’re a random (read: scary) stranger.
“Hands up if you’re serious about your business? Who likes getting more sales ? Who likes referrals?” I asked these questions last week in a room full of business owners. Needless to say all the hands went up.
“So, who’s done a mystery shop of their own business?” All the hands went down.
Businesses small and large spend thousands of dollars and time on marketing and selling. But very few check their major customer interfaces/touchpoints for congruence with their core brand promise. In short they may be wasting their efforts.
If your brand promises something from the experience of dealing with you, but somewhere along the way fails to deliver, your customers will go elsewhere. You’ll not only lose customers, but you might lose your reputation and profits along the way.
What’s a customer touchpoint? They’re things like;
- Your sales people
- Your website
- Your reception/receptionist
- Your business card
- Your physical address (storefront or business)
- Your answering service
- Your on-hold music
- Your sales or ordering process (on-line or off-line)
- Or any other way that your customer has of engaging with your business.
Why these more so than the product/service you’selling? Because you probably already work hard enough on that. However, if there’s an issue with any of the above, no matter how hard you work on your sales and marketing, you’re probably losing as many customers as you gain.
For example – an author/speaker client of mine, a super smart, vibrant woman had written a cutting edge book and is a wonderful speaker yet when you looked at her website and business cards they looked as if you were dealing with a run of the mill professional services organisation (pick any one) with no real call to action, nothing exciting – just bland – or what I call “mid professional services blue”.
Yet, her website was often the first port of call for anyone checking her out prior to hiring her. It virtually stopped people in their tracks, made them question her credentials and possibly leave to look for someone else (you can and should track this with google analytics). Her re-designed website now reflects her brand values and prospective customers no longer question her right to be a leader in the space in which she works.
Maybe the next time you’re thinking of a sales or marketing drive – check out some of your other customer touch points and make sure they really align to your brand promise (and your USP) before you start.
Or better still have someone unconnected with your company ‘mystery shop’ purchasing from you. The information you gain might be priceless.
AKA How many touchpoints does your prospect need to become a client?
Have you ever felt frustrated by how long it takes to ‘convert’ a prospect to being your client? Or wondered what you’re doing wrong? Before you think it must be you, you might want to consider the (US) National Sales Executive Association figures on B2B sector sales below;
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact
- 3% of sales are made on the second contact
- 5% of sales are made on third contact
- 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
- 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact
Very similar statistics were also mentioned in Jay Levinson’s book Guerilla Marketing although he stops at 5. I’ve always worked on 7.
Whilst these statistics are heading towards being 10 years old, most likely, if anything, given the current state of the world economy, the number of contacts required to get a sale have probably gone up, not down.
Yet only 10% of people will make more than three contacts with their prospects and a staggering 48% of people will never follow up a prospect.
This all begs the question is there another way to do this rather than making 5-12 phone calls (which let’s face it, is a kind of daunting thought).
Yes. It means you have to stay in contact – whatever that means for your business – marketers often refer to them as touchpoints (or ways your prospect/clients are ‘touched’ by your brand.
You might consider using a blog, twitter, e-mail marketing, newsletter, media stories, whitepapers, events, thank you cards, branded items, tradeshows, advertising,“how are you doing” phone calls or drop-ins. In other words, you have to do whatever it takes to have your message in front of your future client, so that when they’re read to buy, you’re top of their mind, in front of their eyes or in their ears.
It also highlights the need to make sure you have your marketing touchpoints planned (systematised if at all possible), consistent and customer-focused (which means paying attention to the only question you need to ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” or WIIFM).
The moral to the story is, if it’s going to take 12 (or maybe more) contacts to have someone buy from you, make sure every single encounter with your brand counts.
PS: whilst these statistics are based on B2B research, if you’re selling to consumers, given the competition and noise in the marketplace for most items, you might also want to work on the same numbers. If you convert earlier – well done.
A little while ago, our family dog passed away (she was old, but it was still rather unexpected). We’d taken her to see a new vet the day she died, albeit too late for him to be able to do much. We paid his bill, said our goodbyes to our beloved pet and that was that. Or so I thought.
Two days later, a handwritten card arrived in the mail. Addressed to our entire family by individual name, the vet we’d met only once expressed his condolences on our loss. It was not the standard fodder of someone who thought of this as a good marketing trick – we no longer had any pets. This man genuinely understood what we were going through – it was his way of showing he cared. It was like a… written hug.
It was a truly lovely gesture – welcomed particularly by my daughter, who was incredibly sad.
Compare that with the vet practice we’d previously used for 20 years, who’d seen three of our family pets pass away – nada, nothing – just a large bill in the mail.
Fast forward five months – we’ve got a new addition to the family now – a bright little Jack Russell called Molly. Needless to say, guess which vet we’re going to be heading back to.
The next time you’re wondering if three minutes, some ink and a stamp is really worth the effort – remember the written hug. It doesn’t have to be perfect prose or poetically written – thank you will suffice. So few people actually hand write cards, that it’s very memorable when it happens.
And, who knows, it might just be the thing your future or current customer needs to see today.