business, customers, Marketing

Your Business is Still About Customers

Poor Service

Consider this:

80% of executives believe their company is delivering a superior customer experience, yet in 2013, only 8% of companies surveyed received a top grade from their customers.”

Interesting. Only 8% got top marks for customer service…why do think that is? With all the tools and data we have at our fingertips today, 80% of executives believe they are giving good service, but somewhere things got lost in translation.

Isn’t social media suppose to give us all the things we need to make our customers happy? All those cool sites to post stuff on so we stay in contact with customers on a daily basis. And what about the other hundreds of “free” ways to get the word out about your latest products and services–customers love all that stuff, right? The kitten posts? All those people who “liked” your kitten photos? Is this really what your customers want?

Social Media is not a replacement for good old customer service and it certainly isn’t going to help the guy who wrote in ketchup. It isn’t a strategy, in fact, when it comes to customer service things haven’t changed at all. Facebook is a tool for business. It can’t help the guy waiting to order his lunch, but it will impact that restaurant when that ketchup photo goes viral. Business is still about the people we serve. That is what counts. The customers we serve. All the tweeting and posting in the world mean nothing without customer service.

So here goes, a simple checklist to get back on track:

1. Website: By the time people come through your door they have made 80% of their decision to buy from you. They don’t want your brochure; they want to see how your product looks or works. They already know what it costs, and they know your price is something they can afford. Customers are doing their homework on the internet. By the time they get to you, they are ready. At that point its how they are treated. (And if they are not coming through your door, it’s time to review the information are you offering them.)

2. Be Where They Are: If you are in business, then you probably already know who your best customers are, you just need more of them. That “new-fangled-social-media-thingy” exists. That is where your customers are, so figure out which sites they love, and then get out there and have a conversation. Don’t know where to start? Find your competitors sites and see what they are doing. It’s ok to look, in fact, its expected. Learn from them.

3. Optimizing Content: One of the worst things business owners do is that they go out and set up all the social sites they can think of and then start posting “look at me” signs. It takes a lot of hours to post and generate content on the internet, so why not step back and figure out which posts work for you, and which ones do not. We call that optimizing and that could be something as simple as using keywords in your descriptions. Don’t just post to post, post to become relevant, searchable and customer focused. If you don’t have time to read how to “optimize”, then hire someone to teach you how to do it. It doesn’t have to be hard, or difficult, but it is necessary.

4. Personalize: This is a part of marketing that has changed. One ad in the local paper does not bring in lots of new customers. Just like one post or one online ad will not make you a millionaire. Find your core customer and offer them what they want. Be laser focused on their needs, who they are, what they like, what they don’t like…and then give it to them. It’s not “all mom’s”, it is “moms with pre-school children who have food allergies”, or maybe its “middle-aged men and women who have lost a significant person in their lives and they want to feel connected again”. That could be a great pizza ad—on one site and a totally different pizza ad on another site. Same pizza place, different, personalized message.

5. Step Back. It is necessary and more than OK to take a step back once in a while. How can you possibly know if your message is correct and getting to the right people if you don’t stop and take a good long look? Being organized, getting organized takes time and a plan; so stop rushing around trying to meet the needs of everyone, everywhere, and figure out where you are. Once you know that, you can move on to where you want to be.

6. Strategize: So where exactly do you want your business to go? Yeah, we all want customers who buy stuff, but where exactly do you want to be? How much stuff do you want to sell? Are you changing lives or just getting rid of inventory? It is not possible to effectively use social media sites if you do not understand where you want to go. People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it. That is part of making a strategy that works in social media.

7. Lead Don’t Manage: And now let’s deal with your low-cost “intern.” How on earth can a 20-something intern possibly know what and where to post your most important thoughts if you haven’t given them your mission statement and a training manual? And more important than that, why would you want a 20-something intern to post things on the internet without a very clear set of rules? There is nothing wrong with having your intern manage your social media, but they need you to lead them. In fact, your whole company needs to operate with a clear mission that has specific goals attached them. That empowers them to do the job you need, and it forces you to become the leader you always dreamt you would be.

So take a moment. A breath. Now figure it out–before your competitors do!

Quoted Data by Forrester Analysis 1/14

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