Tags: customer

How to Hack Into Your Customer’s Mind

How to Hack Into Your Customer’s Mind

Beyond • November 11, 2015

Your business is always evolving – at least it should be if you’re interested in keeping current with where your customers are at. Whether you’re in retail, non-profit, or the academic sector, your marketing manager’s goal should be to be an avant-garde thinker that is growth oriented. The direction of that growth will be determined by what your customers want. The next step is figuring out what that looks like exactly. Forecasting Your Own Patterns If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll know that how you’ve done businesses has adapted over the years. Perhaps you’ve changed services or added new products. Maybe the change hasn’t been about product but about terms. Perhaps clients have sought more flexibility in contract terms that sheds light on how their own business models are evolving and adapting to their needs. Thinking further, perhaps clients have changed how they communicate with you or how many new ideas or inspirations they’re seeking from you? Whatever it is, pay attention to the changes. Track them, chart them, and you’ll begin seeing a pattern. You can use that pattern to forecast where you need to go next. When tracking changes, you might be able to see that slowly customers are embracing a new model of product, service or terms. If that’s the case, then you can be proactive with the ones that are still behind the curve. You can reach out to them and let them know of the shift with others and offer them perhaps the same courtesy. They’ll appreciate the effort and your consideration in looking out for them. Peeking Over the Shoulder of Your Competitors It’s not exactly called cheating, but active market watching. Peeking over the shoulders of your neighbors is not the best idea when you’re in school. But when you’re out there in the real world, it’s smart to know what the business next to you is doing. Make it a point to routinely (monthly) check in to see what’s on their radar. What’s changed about how they do business from last month; what new customers do they have; what change in direction are they taking; what are their customers saying; how active are they on social or how has the social strategy changed? My recommendation would be to take your top two competitors – one that is at the level you want to be and one that’s an immediate threat – and do a growth chart for them too. This way, when you’re reviewing your growth, you have something to compare it too. You can see how you stack up against the competition and how you’re doing on your desired trajectory. When it comes to hacking your customer’s mind, the strategy you employ needs to be tactile and analytical. You need to be able to walk away with tangible data you can use to move forward with. The ultimate goal is to develop a regularly deployed system that can help your team determine what your customers are looking for and what’s important to them. Taking it one step further, keep in mind that your goal should be to forecast into what the market is looking for rather than just your current customer pool. This empowers your monthly check-ins to also be a part of the sales process that can help grow business.


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Office Survival: The Customer Is Always Right

Office Survival: The Customer Is Always Right

Beyond • March 17, 2014

Isn’t that something that we always tell ourselves through gritted teeth each time a customer is being especially demanding or difficult? As an employee, it is our job to make them happy (and prevent them from coming back and complaining again). There are just some people that get a kick out of coming back into your store or office and creating a mountain out of a molehill. What is even worse is when there are other customers around to watch and observe the fiasco; and the last thing you want while getting attacked by a customer is having an audience too. First things first, keep your cool. As much as you want to lunge at the customer with your claws out, that will instantly scare off all your customers from ever stepping foot in your store again, and you’ll gain nothing but a lawsuit. So calm down! Never raise your voice to their level, or use the same angry or sarcastic tone, which will only fuel the flames. Instead of seeing them as an angry adult, imagine yourself talking to a child throwing a tantrum (but don’t tell them that, of course!). This angry customer is just a fussy child that wants you to listen and take care of them. In most cases, the angers stems from the frustration of not being heard. This should change your mindset from “Ugh, this person is nuts!” to “Aww, he is upset. What can I do to help?” Even if they shout mean and ugly things to you, don’t take it personally. When you are angry, you kind of lose all logic and exaggerate things; so just let the insults just bounce off you. It is important to let the customer know that you are here to help. Just saying that can lessen their stress by 90%. So show them you care. If possible, try to get them away from other people and tell them that you two can speak in private in a corner, or in a separate room. Reassure them with: I’m sorry you are feeling this way. What I can do to help you? I completely understand your situation. We are doing our best to fix it for you. Thank you for your patience. We will try to resolve this for you as quickly as possible. Give them a chance to vent. Even jot down some notes so that you can remember the facts clearly and show them that you are taking this problem seriously. At the end, repeat the situation back to them, saying “So the issue right now is that…is this correct?” At this point, try not to focus on defending your company even if it wasn’t your fault. You don’t want to restart the fire again. Your customer doesn’t really care. He just wants the problem fixed. So reassure him that you or your manager will look into the problem right away. Be as detailed as you possibly can. Tell them who are the people that will be involved, what the procedure is, how long will it approximately take to be fixed. Ideally, this can resolve the issue right then and there. However, there will be some irrationally angry people that are not willing to talk in a private room and would rather let it all out in the middle of the store. Here, you are going to have to professionally handle it in front of other people. Don’t look around at other people’s reactions. This will only make you feel even more helpless, or the customer will feel your weakness and step up their anger even more. Place yourself in a confident stance: back straight and chin up. Even if you are just a regular or a new employee, think of yourself in a higher management position. Not so you can self-righteously tell the customer to beat it, but so you can naturally exude more professionalism and confidence. That renewed mindset will guide you with what to say and do with the customer. Then, pray that everything will be smooth sailing from there. If not, you can always call security. Good luck!


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Great Grammy Flubs & Inexplicable Customer Decisions

Great Grammy Flubs & Inexplicable Customer Decisions

Beyond • February 6, 2014

A couple of decades ago, Enigma Records\' A & R chief William Hein coined the famous dictum “We work in a tremendous vacuum of taste out there.” What this quote fails to recognize is that the customer is always right, even when the customer is dead wrong. Whatever we can say about our online marketing customers opting for the lowest common denominators or making purchasing decisions that would befuddle a saint, the bottom line is that the bottom line is benefited by their choices whether we agree with them or not. Otherwise, we’re all resorting to the patented snobbery of: “What I like is good taste, what I don’t like is bad taste.” Like many puzzling customer decisions these infamous Grammy snubs may seem inexplicable but the approximately 20,000 NARAS members voted this way, so we can either accept it or just sit in the corner in utter dejection. 1964: Best Original Score For A Motion Picture – The nominees included Goldfinger, The Pink Panther, and one of the greatest tunes of the rock era, The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. They were all beaten by Mary Poppins. Supercalifragilisticexpialioutrageous! 1966: Best Rock & Roll Recording - Coming up against The Beatles’ \"Eleanor Rigby,\" The Beach Boys’ \"Good Vibrations,\" and even The Mamas & The Papas’ \"Monday Monday,\" the Grammy went to The New Vaudeville Band’s \"Winchester Cathedral.\" They didn’t even use a megaphone for that “you’re bringing me doooooooown” but the lead sang through his hand! 1978: Best New Artist – Elvis Costello had literally lit up the charts with the most enduring music to emerge from the Punk & New Wave movement but he lost to A Taste Of Honey’s immortal \"Boogie Oogie Oogie.\" Commemorating this inexplicable award, Costello later issued a sampler CD entitled A Taste Of Extreme Honey. 1980: Album of the Year – The Grammy voters in their infinite wisdom chose to snub minor little acts such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel and even the deities of the music universe Pink Floyd to hand the golden award to Christopher Cross. “Saaaaaailing ... takes me awaaaaaay.” Someone should have taken Cross away. 1988: Best Metal Performance – The entire music world expected this Grammy to land squarely in the lap of Metallica, and of course it was won by Jethro Tull who embodies the very essence of heavy metal in playing ... the flute. You really couldn’t make this stuff up. 1989: Record Of The Year – What was possibly the most magnificently produced tracks of the entire decade, Michael Jackson’s \"Man In The Mirror,\" was beat-en by Bobby McFerrin’s \"Don’t Worry Be Happy,\" an a capella track where the singer is accompanied only by the sound of his hands smacking various parts of his anatomy. And how could we possibly forget… 1990: Best New Artist – The award goes to Milli Vanilli! They were hot, they were cute, they danced great, they had looooong dreads, but the tiny little problem with their record was that they didn’t sing a note on it! But dang, did they ever look great lip sync’ing! So before you despair over the depressing fact that the 2001 Best Dance Recording wasn’t J Lo’s \"Let’s Get Loud,\" Eiffel 65’s \"Blue,\" or even Moby’s \"Natural Blues,\" but was won by Baha Men’s \"Who Let The Dogs Out,\" (“woof woof woof woof”) keep in mind that even the greatest music critics have to acknowledge that the public votes with its money and that is what business is based on, not the elite ruminations of the tasterati. It’s very difficult to pay your bills with positive review clippings. Does that mean that we should toss out what we believe to be underperforming product online marketing campaigns and in our quest to rack up as many sales as possible fully embrace the immensely popular whoopee cushions, plastic dog poop, and Sarah Palin Toilet Paper? As online marketers we have a responsibility to maintain the reputation of our brands regardless of what we may believe would be a short term answer to our drooping sales levels. Our customers will maintain trust in our brands if we are consistent, responsive, quality-oriented and reliable!


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How to Lose Your Loyal Customers by Ignoring Them

How to Lose Your Loyal Customers by Ignoring Them

Beyond • July 14, 2010

My lifelong affinity to computers started way back in 1981 with my first Toshiba 8088, a personal computer with an eye-searing MDA green screen. It cost as much as a new Buick and had less processing power than my current watch. Since I\'ve spent the better part of the last three decades glued to a keyboard, I love to keep up with the latest and greatest hardware. Consequently, I\'m a subscriber to a plethora of computer retailer email marketing lists, which keep me both informed and entertained. In the last couple of years, I\'ve noticed a disconcerting trend with most of these major national brand online retailers: They keep plowing emails into my inbox, but they completely ignore me when I have a query that extends beyond an orderly checkout. A summary of my misadventures just in the last few months reads like a litany of what not to do in customer service: Fitting 1366 Pins Into 1156 Sockets Company A pitched a Core i7 processor combo mated with a motherboard that was the wrong socket type: The number of pins on the processor exceeded the number of pins on the socket by 210, and removing the extra pins with tweezers is not exactly an option recommended by Intel. I sent a polite email (no rants or expletives) asking if they would extend that price to a combo that could actually be installed. A week later, I resent that email. A week after that, I reworded the email more strongly. A week after that, I cc\'d that email to every single email address I could find on their website. Of course, I never received a reply of any kind. Just more marketing emails… and yes, there were two new impossible combos in those as well. No Discount & No Unsubscribe Company B offered a discount on my next order if I signed up for their \"bi-weekly expert newsletter.\" I received a code to enter at checkout that never worked, the newsletter turned out to be marketing hype copied verbatim from manufacturer sites, and their definition of bi-weekly is every Tuesday and Friday. I\'ve sent an unsubscribe each Tuesday and Friday for almost two months now, and the persistent newsletter is still showing up promptly twice a week. It Doesn\'t Fit & You Can\'t Return It Company C sold me a CPU fan fitted with a four-socket connector. Unable to connect it to the standard three-prong CPU fan connector, I had to connect it to the motherboard\'s four-prong plug intended for case fans. The fan works fine, but now whenever I boot up I get a \"CPU Fan Missing\" notice, which forces me to hit 8 separate keys to proceed. My BIOS setting can\'t be changed, I can\'t find a 3 to 4 adaptor, and the company has rewarded my multiple requests for an RMA with silence. Amateur Experts Company D touted their new live chat service to obtain expert pre-sale consultation. The link in their email was dead, so I scoured their website for a working link and finally found it buried on a fifth level page. The \"expert\" who came onto live chat 45 minutes later was as capable of answering my question as I am of building the Large Hadron Collider in my backyard with an erector set, a flashlight, and a Toshiba 8088. When you design a marketing email, you boast of your excellent customer service and provide ample ways that your prospects can benefit from it… but are they? What is the actual customer experience? Are your incoming email addresses dead letter offices? Is your unsubscribe function a chimera? Is your staff incompetent and ignorant? I will definitely think twice before placing a product into the shopping carts on the websites of those companies. That recalcitrance represents considerable lost sales and revenue that the company could have saved by simply treating the customer in a rational, responsible, common sense manner. Are you making the same mistakes?


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The Fallacy of Pursuing Social Media Friend Pyramids

The Fallacy of Pursuing Social Media Friend Pyramids

Beyond • July 7, 2010

Through the recent period of exponential growth in social media, many email marketers have been mesmerized by the pursuit of logarithmic friend pyramids, where each new level expands the customer base by an order of magnitude. Unfortunately, as social networks mature, marketers are finding themselves hitting demarcations based upon the inability of any social media participant to manage boundless friend lists. A Friend by Any Other Name The prototypical stereotype of the computer nerd is the chubby bespectacled couch potato sporting a Star Trek TNG four-pip command jersey while crouching over his lapped Core i7 Gulftown (overclocked to 4.73 GHz on Peltier) in his parents\' darkened basement - hardly the paragon of social clique popularity. However, in the new world of social media, this very geek likely commands a throng of \"friends\" numbering in the hundreds or thousands - a veritable Lindsay Lohan of cyberspace. The Limits of Evangelization It turns out that the quotation marks around \"friend\" are the critical component necessary to fully comprehend this customer. If we utilize the \"friend\" definition currently applicable to Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media galaxy, our nerd certainly is a prime target for our email marketing efforts. If our fine geek becomes convinced that our iBlivet is the best aide to widgetization available, this is one customer who can be counted upon to metamorphosize into a rabid evangelist and will likely single handedly move more iBlivets among his friend horde than 30 seconds on the Super Bowl. Or at least it\'s supposed to work that way. The reality is that many social media participants are starting to lapse into fuzzy inactivity due to the overwhelming online noise to signal ratio. They are realizing that it is simply not feasible to vividly participate in the minutiae of hundreds or thousands of other lives. The novelty is definitely wearing off, and friends lists throughout the social mediaverse are undergoing a massive cull. This drastic filtering is tending to leave only the personal face-to-face friends in the real world, which in the case of our particular nerd is… no one at all. Participation Incentives Are Dwindling Email marketers have been long pursuing the pot of gold at the end of the social media rainbow, and some have experienced outstanding success. As the medium matures, however, we have to come to the realization that bigger is not necessarily better and that the integral value of voluminous friend swarms may actually be a negative factor. Customers with burgeoning friends lists are beginning to suffer from dwindling participation incentives. This trend is actively devaluing the social network itself as well as the archetype of the “trusted endorsement.” When the endorsement is proposed from an acknowledged, accredited, personally known peer, it certainly carries considerable weight. But sooner or later the social media participant is going to start wondering who the heck is this nerd, why is he pitching this, and is iBlivet compensating him for this glowing testimonial? Beyond Milieu Stakeholding Any customer’s ability to maintain active participation in social networks across communities and branding is limited at a threshold that is far below the optimum level desired by the stream of marketers who wish to engage them. Simply maintaining a social media presence in 2010 and beyond is not sufficient for brands to achieve their marketing goals. The brands who were quick on their feet and were able to conglomerate key groups of customers early on have been able to win the territorial claim battle, but there is much more to social media success than mere milieu stakeholding. Enduring brand success can only be achieved in the social media ecosystem when a fair and valid exchange is offered for the customer’s time and focus, through an expectation of receiving real, premium value. The email marketers who are able to distinguish themselves in the social network arena through unflagging, meticulous and honest dedication to the welfare and satisfaction of their individual customers will continue to prevail. The ones who get caught up in pursuing illusory friend pyramids will undoubtedly crash and burn.


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The Benchmark Email Feature Wish List Forum

The Benchmark Email Feature Wish List Forum

Beyond • June 3, 2010

Adding new email marketing features to our already vast repertoire is always an exciting thing for us here at Benchmark Email HQ. Not only because it allows us to puff out our chests a little more and be proud of our product, but also because we know it\'s going to make the lives of our customers a bit easier. Our latest feature, we are pleased to announce, is all about you. This week Benchmark Email introduced the Feature Wish List Forum. Any customer can tell us a feature they’d like to see implemented or vote for another idea that’s previously been suggested. It’s our way of letting you know that we’re listening. The idea you suggest might even become the latest and greatest feature that we’re blogging about! Even though the forum has only been live for a very short time, we’re already preparing to implement a new feature that came from the Wish List. The Feature Wish List Forum can be accessed from your homepage when you’re logged into your Benchmark Email account. Click on the red Feedback button on the left side of your screen. Each user is given 25 votes to begin with. You can designate up to three votes per feature suggestion. You can get those votes back once a feature you have voted for has been completed or deleted. You can also change your votes by clicking on them. The forum will send you an email digest of any activity on your ideas. This includes comments, status changes and responses from the admin. When in the forum, you can suggest an idea of your own at the top. You can also browse the list of features that have already been suggested, and they are organized by tabs. The first tab is called Top Ideas. These suggestions are the leading vote getters, and they are closest to being implemented in our services. The next tab is the Hot tab - the ideas that have received votes and comments in the past 15 days. Next is the New tab, where you can see the most recent suggestions from the past 15 days. The Accepted tab tells you the features that our programmers are currently working into our system, and the Completed tab denotes those features that have officially become a part of the Benchmark Email service. We hope that you are as excited about this new forum as we are because it’s all about you. We want what you want: the best possible product that satisfies all your wants and needs. This forum allows our customers to take ownership of that fact. Just like the people in the new Windows 7 commercials, you’ll brag that you’re responsible for our great new feature. The difference is that with the Benchmark Email Feature Wish List Forum, it really could be true.


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Email Marketing Meets the CPA

Beyond • April 22, 2010

Benchmark Email constantly strives to provide our customers with the best information available on email marketing best practices and tactics. We also try to cater to every industry imaginable. Our countless industry templates show that. Recently, our own Hal Licino shared some great tips with the accounting website WebCPA.com. Hal is one of the great writers on our Benchmark Blog, even though his highly educated humor sometimes goes over the heads of some of us here at Benchmark Email HQ. You’ll have to visit the article on WebCPA to see everything that Hal wrote about, but here’s a sneak peek: Get personal There aren\'t many more effective techniques than using people power to your advantage. Using customer testimonial will have a greater impact than ad copy. Empathize with Your Clients Take the time to discuss any questions or concerns your customer may have about your services. It lets them know you are there for them from the start. Discover the rest of Hal\'s Five Ways to Grow Accounting Leads with Email Marketing on WebCPA.com. We\'re big fans of Hal. Now accountants everywhere can be added to his fan-base, too.


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Fire Your Writers, Hire Your Customers!

Fire Your Writers, Hire Your Customers!

Beyond • April 6, 2010

Chances are there are countless comments about your brand, favorable and otherwise, on a plethora of social networks. The positive personal endorsements are overwhelmingly powerful persuaders, and if harnessed correctly, they can form the core of a trend-setting, innovative email marketing program. Overcoming Customer Resistance To The Email Pitch We have all been barraged by email pitches since the dawn of the Internet era, and there is undoubtedly a certain level of resistance that has evolved among the readers. Even though email marketers today are far more subtle and relevant than they were in the Paleolithic age, the bottom line is that an ad is an ad is an ad. We can try to discuss lifecycle and transactional communications until Steve Jobs buys Microsoft stock, but there is no escaping the latter word in “email marketing.” Harness Your Customers\' Kudos To Win Over More Customers It is interesting to note that any brand that can even remotely be construed as “major” has a remarkable amount of content about it out there on the wild wild web. It has been created not by its marketing department, but by its customers. Your brand’s buyers are chatting about it all the time on social networks, their blogs or forum comments. Granted, much of this content is essentially idle, sophomoric chatter composed of monosyllabic grunting with the odd expletive thrown in for good measure. However, there is content being created by your customers that is not only coherent and comprehensible, but also incorporates a credibility quotient, which your marketing writers can never hope to achieve. It turns out that in the online multiverse where everybody talks about everything all the time, there is nothing more convincing than the kudos from a satisfied customer. A Real Consumer Conversation Trumps Any Synthetic Marketing Ploy Harnessing the power of these everyman endorsements is not a case of just kludging together semi-anonymous one-line testimonials, as that is far too ol’ skool to be effective. Everyone has read the glowing praise Kevin R. from Milwaukee has bestowed on the Wackamatic 3000 and nobody believes it: either the hype or that Kevin actually exists. The proficient way to leverage all of this acclaim floating around cyberspace is to develop a dynamic email template that can cherry pick the best real comments from real people on the social media web and condense it into a consumer conversation that scores off the chart in relevance. Put Your Customers In Control Of Their Own Marketing Messages The crux of social media marketing is developing to be the tenet that an endorsement from the most popular sports or media star of the moment doesn’t hold a candle to Auntie Gladys telling you “this stuff works!” People are always going to give greater credence to real people than to synthetic marketers. Since there are real people out there talking about your brand, why ignore them? After all, their words carry considerably more weight than yours ever will, and they carry with them a guarantee of engagement to an entire sector of consumers who are currently ignoring you! Work out a customized, vigorous, and totally empathic structure where this online commentary about your brand can be successfully applied to your marketing efforts and put your customers in control of their own marketing messages. You will soon realize the momentous benefits of people power working for you! Related Reading: Your Social Network Face


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Respect Your Customers’ Personal Information & Reap Results

Respect Your Customers’ Personal Information & Reap Results

Beyond • March 25, 2010

The personal information your prospects provide to you has to be treated not only with total security, but also with exceptional sensitivity. To maximize your customers\' comfort, realize that they are uneasy about sharing that information with you and ensure that your email marketing messages reflect your care. Innocuous Information Used For The Wrong Purposes By the early 1930s, the Netherlands had established a very thorough population registration system similar to an extensive census in order to simplify municipal administration. The government collected extensive personal information on each Dutch citizen and in order to ensure that they received correct burial procedures, also asked the religion of each person. Once the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, the records were all easily in their grasp. They used this information to determine which citizens were Jews and Gypsies, and proceeded to execute them within weeks. As a result, the Netherlands had the highest percentage of Jews killed by the Nazis, fully 73% of that population as compared to 25% in France. This historical event not only demonstrates that \"the road to hell is paved with good intentions,\" but also that data which has been collected on individuals for completely innocuous reasons can be skewed to dark purposes. The AOL Blunder That Revealed 650,000 Users The early internet powerhouse AOL committed an enormous personal privacy violation in 2006 when they, completely by accident, posted the complete search records of well over 650,000 AOL users in a massive 4.4 GB file. Although these individuals were not directly identified, it turns out that most people conduct search engine queries on their own names or even social security numbers, so many are very easily determined. Suddenly, individual web surfers were no longer anonymous and every single search term they had queried was public information, revealing every manner of eccentricity or outright perversion. \"User 927\" even became a bit of a cyber-legend as their search history was particularly chilling and became the subject of a major theatrical play. These AOL users would likely not have typed those terms into the search box had they known that it was not a strictly private event and might even end up on stage! Permission Based Marketing Treasures Privacy The sensitivity level of most online users towards protecting their privacy seems to diminish each passing day as the prevailing view is that it\'s hopeless anyway. However, that does not translate into active approval of privacy violations, and this discretion should be very carefully noted by email marketers. Permission based email marketing is a covenant between the brand and the consumer: the brand asks for permission to send email messages and the individual agrees. It is also understood that along the way, the brand will be collecting information about the individual\'s preferences for the sole purpose of offering products and services that best suit their proclivities. Most consumers are more or less in agreement with this process as it has become nearly universal, but what they don\'t want to see is their personal information flaunted. This does not only apply to revealing that information to third parties, but even by direct reference within the email marketing message itself. Nuance & Subtlety Are The Keys To Considerate Emails How the personal information is embodied in the email is where nuance comes very much into play. An elegant reference to their item of interest is always preferable to a clumsy direct statement. If we consider the rather extreme example of a pharmaceutical company communicating with a sufferer of a highly contagious disease, subtlety in portraying the clinical information is going to be preferable to \"Hi Typhoid Mary, don\'t infect everyone you know, buy…\" Compassionate consideration of your readers\' personal privacy will be appreciated and rewarded. Keep that in mind when planning your next campaign.


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