Category Archives: Customer experience

If the cap fits…

ID-100614I have been  exploring local sponsorship opportunities on behalf of a client over the last few days. My starting point was the local Council website which stated that sponsorship arrangements were outsourced to a third-party. I checked out their website and it all looked very promising; even their name, Immediate Solutions, gave me confidence that they would deliver!I duly contacted them and was promised a call back.

Sadly, one small element just didn’t stack up. You guessed it; they were anything but ‘immediate’! In fact, I’ve still not heard a word from them.

Here are a few  golden rules that I believe all small businesses should stick to if they want to win customers and keep them coming back:

  • Keep your promises – or put another way, deliver what you promise. If you can’t give an immediate response, don’t offer it; it may not even be important to your customers. Find out what is important to them and make sure you  deliver  it.
  • Be consistent – it’s no good having a brilliant website if there is no substance behind it. You may win customers in the first place but you will surely struggle to hang onto them. Think through your customer journey, including mapping out all your customer ‘touch points’, and make sure that each stage of the process works.
  • Manage expectations – although some things are obviously truly ‘urgent’, most aren’t. If you tell your customers  that it will take 24 hours for you to respond, most will accept that. The truism –  ‘under promise, over deliver’ may be cheesy, but it does make sense!

These are all ways that small businesses can often out-perform larger, more complex organisations, so make sure you build them into your overall service delivery.

Image: freedigitalimages

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How to look after your best customers

I have just signed a new mobile phone contract with my existing supplier that gives me a lesser package at a higher price than I could have got from a competitor. Fact is, I accepted a plan that will cost me almost 40% more and has fewer benefits; so how did they persuade me to part with my cash and why was I happy to do so?

In simple terms the downside of moving my contract to a new supplier outweighed the benefits they were offering.

Here are some of the reasons I stayed:

  • inertia (well I’m only human!): I was looking for reasons to stay with my existing supplier as I didn’t really want the hassle of changing. This meant that I was receptive when they offered me an incentive to stay. As it turned out, it didn’t even need to be a particularly great offer to retain my business
  • good service: I have always had good (though not outstanding) service from my existing supplier
  • value added offers: My existing supplier has sent regular offers and incentives over the years, which have continued to remind me that I am a valued customer
  • brand familiarity:  I don’t consider myself to be a particularly brand loyal person, but having trusted in this brand for some 10 years, I certainly feel I know what I’m getting.

In contrast, I did decide  to move my broadband contract a few months ago. In this case I felt that my existing supplier offered a mediocre service at a high rate and made absolutely no effort to add value or to retain me as a customer!

While this example relates to a highly competitive market dominated by big organisations, the messages translate to small, medium and even micro businesses. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t advocate building a customer retention model based on the premise that your customers can’t really be bothered to move to a new supplier, your aim should be to ensure that they don’t want to move. If your existing clients are happy with you, you will have a fighting chance of keeping them regardless of what tactics your competitors are using to try to poach them.

Existing customers are a really valuable asset to your business so make sure you are looking after them well.

Image: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

The marketing mix: why it is important to your business

If you treat marketing as being synonymous with advertising, promotions and other forms of communication then you are, almost certainly, missing a trick. This week I came across a great example of how, by taking this narrow view of marketing and ignoring some of the elements of the marketing mix, you can seriously damage your revenue.

I’m currently in the market for a coffee table. I’m looking for something quite specific; a square, light oak coffee table. Having searched online I have a rough idea of the price I’m happy to pay and what I can expect to get for my money. Armed with this information I visited a local, independently run, furniture show room to see how they matched up to the internet.

It all started quite well as I was left to browse for a while before being approached by the sales guy who asked if I was looking for something specific. Having explained my requirements to him he proceeded to show me a number of distinctly rectangular looking coffee tables, and tutting, he said: ‘ how come everyone wants square coffee tables when I only have rectangular ones’. Good question. Perhaps he should check his product range?

After this rather awkward moment, he told me that some of the ranges included a square coffee table, and we were back on track again! I chose a style I liked and he scurried off to get a brochure. We then discussed price and, whilst his first offer was more than I wanted to pay, I could see that he was up for a negotiation. I asked about delivery and he agreed to deliver free of charge, so that was another tick in the box.

Finally I asked when the coffee table could be delivered…and it all started to fall apart (again). ‘Before Christmas’, was the response I got. ‘Before Christmas’ I repeated, ‘Yes, before Christmas as opposed to after Christmas’ he said. A little dumbfounded I asked if he could be more specific. Apparently not. The result, a lost sale.

For your marketing to be successful you need to consider all the elements of the marketing mix. It’s less important which definition of the marketing mix you prefer (the 4Ps, 7Ps , 4Cs…the list goes on), just that you have a joined up approach to marketing that puts the customer at the centre.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net