Improving Customer Experience in a recession

June 18, 2012

Post Office Retail AreaWhen you have lots of little issues joining up together, as accident investigators know, that’s the time you get the major headaches.

But how this principle also applies to Customer Care?

Familiarity is a dangerous place.

As I was waiting in a Post Office the other day, somebody clearly thought that placing items for sale next to the queue was a good idea to increase sales.

And it was.

However as with most things, an idea isn’t enough. You must be able to effectively put it into practice. As you can see from the photograph that’s where they came unstuck. The display is dull, dreary, old fashioned, has no prices and also has a very uninspired product range. So, a good idea looks worse than not doing anything at all. Retail guru Mary Portas would have had a fit.

Combined with this mediocrity was grim and uninspiring décor and the place was filthy dirty.

And to top it all, there were a pile of customer satisfaction cards on the unit, asking the reader to fill in, log-on or whatever, to register their satisfaction (or otherwise).

Whilst I was there, nobody did and neither did I. It was so eye wateringly bad, that there was no incentive to bother. If they didn’t care, then why should we?

No doubt the Manager thought this was all OK, otherwise it wouldn’t have been like that!

It reminded me of a time in my early career working in a car Dealership. The Principal was adamant about the importance of Customer Care and every Service Customer had a pre-paid Customer Satisfaction Card stapled to their invoice.

92% of Customers were 100% satisfied; so he was happy.

He simply wouldn’t accept that this wasn’t the right assumption, as only a small proportion of the customers responded. Changes were needed, because the reality was that most customers were business users, so the invoice went to their accounts department.

Those customers that were unhappy were not completing the cards, but phoning the Service Department directly with their concerns – but this stat wasn’t part of the process and it wasn’t in the Service Managers interest to include it either, as 92% of his customers were 100% satisfied, OK?

But the Principal hung on to this process like grim death and thought that everything was hunky-dory, no changes required, despite the desperate pleas from his other Managers and staff.

The same applies in today’s difficult times. To succeed, the Customer Experience has to be better than ever. And that requires continual attention to detail, an open mind, great listening skills a transparent way of measuring the impact and the confidence to invest in the process.

All this at a time when the temptation and current general business feeling, is to minimise investment, hang tight, cut back staff time and weather the storm.

The danger with this approach is that those little problems can join together without warning, to conspire against you creating a very big headache indeed.

The result being that customers vote with their feet, buy elsewhere and start Social Media activity to publicly promote their poor experience to everybody they can tell their story to, except your organisation!

Jonathan Wainwright enables organisations to create commercial success through digital marketing, traditional communications and team development.

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Digital marketing adds an exciting new dimension to communications

January 10, 2012

Traditional marketing was all about the product, the 4 P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Digital marketing has radically changed this, as the marketing focus has now become far more customer centric.

The emphasis has moved towards creating ongoing two way dialogue. It’s about creating new ways to purchase too. A good example being the option to buy online and then collect at the store, the customer chooses what’s most convenient for them. And most powerful of all, a brand new dimension enabling customers to communicate directly with each other, which was impossible before social media.

For most Companies, this means re-thinking their marketing and customer communication strategy and those that don’t are unlikely to survive. The impact Digital has is becoming clear. Statistics are available to demonstrate that it isn’t a fad or fashion, it’s now main stream. Last month according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, internet, mail order and telephone sales lifted by 18.5%, when compared with December 2010.

That’s the strongest gain reported by the BRC monitor since December 2010 when non-food, non-store sales rose by 18%. And this has happened during a time of financial uncertainty, squeezed transport costs, job cuts, pay freezes and general high street trauma.

And as Smartphone sales grow, it will continue to gain importance as the digital age places more power in the consumer’s hands than ever before; via both landline and mobile. They have the ability to check prices, assess quality, check availability and understand what other users think, before any contact at all with the seller.

However, it isn’t all one-sided. There are considerable benefits for sellers too. They have the ability to forge stronger customer relationships than before – the Apple syndrome. They can gain new customers through pier group comment, gain valuable feedback for product development and achieve a lower cost per sale by combining high street and mail order distribution.

Inevitably Digital will impact upon every business or organisation. If you are assessing how to respond, then let me explain the relevant pressure points and how digital marketing can have the same positive impact on your business that high retailers enjoyed in December 2011.

Jonathan Wainwright

enables organisations to create commercial success through digital marketing, traditional communications and team development.

Join me on Twitter and LinkedIn.




Digital marketing removes the guesswork

January 3, 2012

The basis is very simple. Unlike the scatter gun approach of traditional media, digital enables you to reach the very heart of the people likely to become your customers. It’s measureable, precise and very effective.

GoogleIt’s all about two words, ‘Precision targeting’.

And that means very little waste when compared with traditional media.

Google AdWords is a great place to start. AdWords helps you to connect with potential customers in the right place and at the right time, by placing relevant messages on Google search results pages.

The impact can be phenomenal. For example a campaign by Nationwide Insurance had three objectives. Acquire new customers, direct users to agent locations and reinforce their brand. They achieved a 73% increase in their click through rate and a 60% increase in conversions on their branded campaigns.

As a result they now know precisely which branded keywords work best and now have a better understanding of what users were seeking when they searched for the brand.

So, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Why do customers make contact with my business?
  2. Do I know the cost per enquiry and conversion for each customer?

And should there be any doubt in your mind, whatsoever, about arriving at an answer then let me explain and show you the positive impact that digital marketing will have upon your business.

Jonathan Wainwright – enables organisations to create commercial success through digital marketing, traditional communications and team development.

Join me on Twitter and LinkedIn.



Harnessing the Marketing power of Smartphones

September 1, 2011

Smartphone’s are fast becoming the phone to have in the UK.

For 2011’s first quarter they represented nearly 50% of all handset sales. And with the peak Christmas period just around the corner, combined with free handset deals, sales will soar.

Through the brand new world of Applications and Widgets, this rise in sales will then have a massive impact on the way products and services are promoted.

It’s creating a whole new way to communicate with prospects, customers and stakeholders.

Let me give you an example. Formula1 racing fans can now get exactly the data the teams’ get in real time. The Formula1 Widget streams race data, direct from Formula One Management’s Technical Centre, to any Smartphone.

Can you imagine the impact of having such an intense dialogue with the people you would like to influence or do business with?

Another example is the use of QR codes. These are now being flashed on TV screens during programmes, included on POS, used at exhibitions and even being used within Newspaper advertising features.

In a matter of seconds the Smartphone captures information embedded within QR Codes, such as promotional URL’s, without the need for any typing. With just one ‘click’ you can communicate stock, offers, special deals etc.

Smartphones offer a fresh, exciting way to communicate. And with this comes a greater opportunity to make your business message stand out.

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Why do some customers fail to buy; even when you sell the benefits?

July 25, 2011

It’s probably because some of the basic criteria, communicated by your organisation, have been overlooked.

Frederick Herzberg was an American psychologist, one of the most influential names in business management.

He is most famous for introducing ‘Job Enrichment’ and the ‘Motivator – Hygiene theory’. His 1968 publication, ‘One More Time-How Do You Motivate Employees?’ sold 1.2 million reprints and was the most requested article from the Harvard Business Review at the time.

Although his work mainly relates to employees and staff motivation, the same principals can still be successfully applied today, to customers and suppliers.

Herzberg believed that businesses had to meet a series of fundamentals in order for customers to do business with them. He called these Hygiene factors and examples might be; location, brand, size, accreditations, telephone handling, customer contact, delivery trust, turnover, track record of success, financial reserves.

Meeting these criteria, which are specific to each customer, gets you an invitation to the party. However you still have to compete to win the business, regardless of how good your product or service is.

Simply put, fail to meet these Hygiene factors, and no amount of product benefits will work to convert these prospects to customers. A good example of how a Hygiene factor influences customers, was the effect upon financial institutions when they moved towards cheaper offshore call centres; they lost customers in droves.

Have a think about organisations that you know, yet wouldn’t dream of working with. You will inevitably unearth the Hygiene factors that they are failing to meet, when you think about why you feel that way.

That’s why it’s essential when you are exploring your organisation’s ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP), that you make sure possible Hygiene factors are met first. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what the benefits of your service or product are, you will never, according to Herzberg’s theory, attract customers to buy.

And that means you are wasting marketing budget and effort and letting your competitors erode your market.

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How will QR Codes help your organisation?

May 17, 2011

Short for ‘Quick Response’ codes, these symbols are the next generation bar code. They can store far more information, are quickly and easily generated and can be read by SMART phones.

They are used to provide a way of taking information from transitory media such as POS, brochures, web pages, posters, tickets and putting it onto a SMART phone, so that the user can access the information later – ideal for people on the move.

And for the marketing savvy, they are more useful than barcodes because they can store (and digitally present) much more data, including URL links, GPS coordinates, text, key product features. Instead of requiring a chunky hand-held bar code scanner, they can be read, in the blink of an eye, by modern SMART phones using either iPhone or Android apps.

The SMART phone market in increasing exponentially and as it does the use of these clever symbols will increase too as consumers want a quick and easy way to store information important to them.

How can they be used?

Here are a few examples:

– To create a new dimension to your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube presence etc.
– Promote product details at shows, exhibitions and retailers POS
– Another channel for communicating contact details, adding them directly into a prospects contact list
– Personalising Special offers, promotions, coupons
– Creating links to other information.

Worldwide, 172 million SMART phones were sold last year, up 24 percent. In contrast, total mobile phone sales were flat at 1.2 billion (Source Gartner 2010).

So early adopters will benefit from this growing opportunity – the only constraint is your creativity.

If you want to decode the QR on this page, save the image and go to this web site.

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With Digital marketing comes accountability

April 18, 2011

Direct mail and Direct response advertising are very blunt tools compared with the way that modern Digital marketing is now driving sales and completely changing the role of Marketing Directors.

It’s about one word, ‘accountability’.

Digital marketing enables communication, promotion and measurement through multiple channels, enabling the creation of balance between branding, customer retention and sales; something that has never been possible before.

Today’s customers are more demanding and hungry for dialogue. Creativity is essential, the last thing they want is a ‘sales pitch’, the downfall of many a ‘Twitter’ strategy.

Digital marketing enables interactive communication across multiple platforms simultaneously, for example Smartphone, TV, Tablet and Computer. So it’s essential that the creativity and promotional mechanism is appropriate to the channel. Whilst a tablet user might be drawn to an ‘interactive game style’ promotion, a PC user will inevitably respond to a more ‘drill down’ information approach.

The major impact this all has, is that marketing now has a dual role. It can generate well qualified leads and also fill a Company’s sales pipeline.

So, assuming that the appropriate Web Content Management system is in place, organisations can take a critical look at achievement of marketing goals vs. spend vs. revenue generation. For the first time the direct correlation between the three can be measured.

And with this new accountability comes power. The skilled Marketing Director now has the ability to drive revenue for their Company, something that traditionally was once the domain of the Sales Director and previously often a source of conflict and frustration.

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