Delivering a Campaign Win Amidst Online Saturation

Fifty years ago, the primary platforms used to communicate to customers were print media, TV commercials, and billboards. Given this, large-scale campaigns were pricey, and only a h andful of major br ands had the resources with which to execute them.

Now flash forward. These days, the results of corporate marketing initiatives are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. As marketers, we still have the commercials, billboards, and print ads to content with, but now we also have to consider things like search engines, social media, and mobile computing. Beyond that, we must deal with the knowledge that just about anyone with a computer and an internet connection now has the capability to market a product or service online, quickly and inexpensively. The issue becomes:

Your customer is st anding in front of a fire hose, but are YOU the one getting them wet?

Every time your customer is hit with a new pop-up, banner ad, or promoted tweet, they become more and more desensitized. They’re getting bombarded with endless potato chips, when what they really want is a substantial meal.  Do you know how to feed them?

Content is the value

In an information-driven market, the companies that will prevail are the ones that underst and the type of information their customers must receive in order to justify their investment in a relationship. Just showing up and spouting what you want them to know about your offering doesn’t do the job anymore. Rattling on about features and benefits will put them to sleep—or worse, yet, make them click away.

Demystifying customer needs

The easiest way to give customers what they need is simply to hear what they’re saying. Have you listened to your customers lately?

  1. Discover relevant online destinations. Set up keyword searches to deliver information on the blogs, web sites, and social media outlets you need to monitor. Actively listen to the online chatter about your br and, industry, and competitors.
  2. Solicit direct feedback. Develop and share an online survey with your customers, giving them an anonymous way to tell you what they think— and what they want.
  3. Identify conversation trends. As you review the information you’ve gathered, you’ll probably be able to identify a number of recurring issues that appear to be the most important to your customers. Turn these into a set of key customer statements (e.g., “I need to stop wasting money on service bundles I cannot use,” “I want to spend less time managing my IT infrastructure.”).
  4. Turn customer statements into marketing messaging. Develop the pillars of your messaging framework around your customer statements (e.g., “We provide all the services you need, and none of the ones you don’t,” “Our products reduce your IT maintenance time by 65%.”), and then spin them further into marketing copy:

Are you tired of paying for service bundles filled with offerings you can’t use?
XYZ Company provides custom solutions that target your unique needs—without a lot of extras you don’t want. . .

Are you spending too much time managing your IT infrastructure?
XYZ Company can cut the amount of time you spend on IT administration by 65%, so you can focus on building your bottom line. . .

Campaigns based upon actual online conversations will resonate keenly with customers because you are repeating to them exactly what they told you. Your content will capture their attention because you are telling them that you recognize what they need, and that you are able to deliver it.

For more information on connecting with customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

 

Three Changes in Customer Care you need to Know

Businesses are beginning to realise that whether they like it or not, their customers are expecting to dialogue with them about their br ands and services, wherever and whenever they choose.

Whilst care centres managed the relationship with customers in the past and often at arm’s length from the business, today’s customers are dem anding more: more responses, more rapidly, more completely, on more channels. In answer to these dem ands, some companies have developed the position of community manager. Many more however, believe that they can continue business as usual, using their care centre personnel to respond to social media “when they are not on the phone”.

For this reason, I thought it would be useful to consider a number of points for those of you that have yet to decide how best to h andle the situation:

1. Talking vs. writing

Care centre staff are extremely good at listening and in many cases they respond by just reading predefined scripts. If they are challenged with a possible health or legal concern, they know to pass the call onto properly qualified experts who will then reply and talk to the caller directly.

In social media however, response is expected almost by return; according to Mari Smith, people expect it within the hour! In the case of sensitive issues, it would therefore be logical to reply immediately saying that an expert would respond in due time with a detailed answer to the customer’s comments. Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm to respond to customers, some companies end up replying inappropriately.

Whilst this was not usually an issue in call centres, since generally only the company was recording the call, responding over the net means that the reply is available for all to see, even when deleted from the site on which the conversation had originally taken place, as Nestlé learned only too well in early 2010. (See here for more on that story)

The people you hire to answer social platform questions and comments need flexibility to respond as a human being, not a scripted employee, but more importantly also detailed training on how to respond. These responses could directly impact company image and reputation, and so should not be treated lightly.

2. Pack invitations

A few years ago, many global companies looked for ways to save money in production costs and the multi-country packs became the norm. This meant that the instructions, ingredients etc. that were detailed on the pack needed to be shown in multiple languages.

The font sizes used were necessarily much smaller and the text became almost illegible. Many organisations then solved this problem by adding pictures to explain how the product was to be used or cooked, which was fine. However, for contact details this was not possible, so businesses had to choose between providing all contact options – telephone, website, email, mail – making the font extremely small, or at best a compromise between the two. Some even removed the contact information altogether, which I would definitely not recommend.

If  – or should I say because? – you want to connect with your customers, then you need to make it easy for them. If you can’t place all contact options on pack, then at least provide a 1-800 number and website address in a clearly visible way.

3. Double opt-in no longer enough!

If the European Commission has its way, double opt-in, which means asking consumers if they want to be contacted and then checking again that they, themselves had indeed asked to be put on a br and or company list, will no longer be sufficient.

In this week’s Marketing Week, it was suggested that The European Commission was about to propose that companies would have to tell consumers “clearly, underst andably and transparently” how their data would be processed and used by them. There is still a lot of trust in the web, especially amongst younger users, perhaps frighteningly so to some of my own “older” generation. However, this does suggest that companies will have to have a clear plan on what they will do with the information they gather.

Now this is not such a bad idea in itself, since I know many organisations that gather Gigabytes of data and do nothing with it for a long time, and then complain it is invalid or out-of-date when they get around to trying to use it. By the sound of it the days of this freedom are soon over.

Therefore, since changes will surely come, and sooner rather than later, to protect customers from online abuse of their information, why not start to really plan what data you need, and why and how you are going to use it? In this way customers will remain open to providing it and we all benefit, since they will be getting appropriately targeted information. Reviewing these changes in customer care practices it is clear that adaptation of most current processes is badly needed and yet so many companies are still slow to see the need to do this. As I said, things are about to change, whether you like it or not!

Do you have a question or challenge about improving the processes of your care centers? I am sure I can help; just contact me here  and I’ll respond personally.

What changes are you planning in your connections with your customers? Please share your ideas here.

For more information on connecting to your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media

I remember going through a meeting with a client and remembering that they didn’t want to be on social networking sites because they didn’t want to get negative feedback. The thing is, whether or not your company is using social media, someone is talking about your br and on social networking sites like Yelp to review their experience with your br and.

In case you’re wondering whether or not your br and should respond to this feedback, allow me to shed some light on these interesting facts. Firstly, according to a study done by The Retail Consumer Report last year, 68% of consumers that posted a complaint or a negative comment on social networking sites, about their negative experiences, got a response from the retailer. From that, 18% of them turned into loyal customers and bought even more. If you think that is all, you’re wrong. 33% of them turned around and posted a positive review after that, and 34% of them deleted their negative review that they had left earlier. This shows that, if h andled properly, negative feedback can indeed be a powerful tool to gain loyalty from your customers and enhancing, not only their experience with your br and, but also the experience of other customers who view your br and’s online persona – since they would be reading some of the positive reviews that the returning 33% had posted.

And for smaller businesses, gaining loyal customers is extremely important! Question is, how should you respond to negative feedbacks?

1. Respond as fast as possible: According to a study (yes another one) 25% of customers expect a response within an hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. Having said that, how fast you respond depends upon the industry your business is in.

2. Don’t follow the script all the time: I just hate it when social media managers or the person behind the br ands follows a script. If you don’t know, most customer representative online or offline have a script to follow depending on what customers say on social media sites. Follow a guideline and not a script. Be different and sincere. Be HUMAN.

3. Give customers more information: I remember seeking help via social media and I receive a “we’re sorry about your experience” response without any help and the br and gave the same response to others as well. Remember don’t follow the script earlier? Despite them responding quickly, they did not answer my question or solve my problems, and I had to comment again. Having said that, it’s not only important to respond quick but also how you respond  that matters.

4. Have a separate email or contact: It’s frustrating when you tried emailing customer service without any help, and when you reach out to them via Facebook or any other social networking sites, they tend to give you the same exact email contact. In my opinion, the better choice would be to have a separate email address for Facebook IF email is need. Another alternative would be to reach out to them by sending them a message on Facebook so that you can get more information.

5. Be honest and transparent: Don’t try to hide or give any excuses; instead be upfront with your customers and apologize and admit that it’s your fault if it is. Having said so, if you don’t have an explanation, apologize to your customers and let them know that it will never happen again.

6. Don’t take it personally: Last but not least, don’t take negative comments as personal attacks. Instead, take them as feedbacks as you’re able to see things from a customer’s point of view. However, if you feel that the customers could be wrong, you could try to defend yourself in a polite way.

Have you had any experience with negative comments? Do share with us how you have dealt with it.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

The 7 Essentials of Customer Centric Websites

I was recently reviewing corporate FMCG / CPG websites and what a shock I got! These are organisations with the consumer in their name, so they should be consumer-centric, right? Well yes of course!

However, very few of them seem to have taken the consumer’s perspective when creating their websites and even fewer delighted me sufficiently to make me want to return to their website, at least any time soon! 

 

From what I have seen so far, it appears that most organisations build their websites to share information with their customers. However it is the information THEY want to share, not the information their customers might want to have. So I thought about what would be important from a customer’s perspective. Here is my list, but please share your own ideas or additions:

 

The 7 things that MUST be on your website

  1. A clear structure that is intuitive – but still include a sitemap for those that need further help or are less logically minded
  2. Contact links or details on the home page, including telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses and social media account links; it is why many of your customers will go to your website in the first place.
  3. A list of your products, br ands and services you offer, with details of ingredients, limits to usage, distribution or other details that might be of interest and relevance to your customers
  4. An About section showing the company details, including its management, geographical areas covered, mission statement, values, strategy and culture, as well as the latest news, both for investors  and customers
  5. Valuable content from the customers perspective, which is regularly updated and has cross-browser compatibility with web-friendly images. Since videos are one of the most popular elements researched on the web, it is a good idea to include them, as well as your latest TVC and print advertising – people love to watch and comment on them.
  6. FAQ section with most often asked questions, which should be constantly updated with new information as customers connect with queries
  7. Utilities such as search, sign-up, subscribe and RSS feed for them, tracking and statistical analysis for you

 

A good example for inspiration

One of the better ones I recently came across, and which is also a lot of fun to interact with, is the corporate site of Reckitt Benckiser. It really interested and engaged me for quite some time and in many different areas. For example, instead of the usual list of its br ands and their logos, it shows what it calls its Powerbr and line-up displayed on a retail shelf or in the rooms of a virtual home (I admit the supermarket bell irritated me somewhat but you can turn it off). You then click on the picture of the product to get more information on it, including its latest advertising.

This way of inviting interaction actually made me want to click on all the br ands to find out more about them. There are also interactive demonstrations of the corporate world, through games and challenges, that add further appeal not only to their consumers but also their employees, past, present or potential.

Take a look at their site – it’s linked to their name above – and then compare it to your own corporate website. Which would you like to spend time on? Is your site a corporate or customer-centric one?

If you have your own favorites of most customer-centric websites, then please share them below. If yours is less than perfect then share what you will be changing so that we can go back and check in the near future. 

For more ideas on how to better connect with your customers: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post first appeared on C3Centricity Comments page on September 1st 2011

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

Does your Company pass this Simple Test of Customer Centricity?

Business must respect its customers to win

Over the last few weeks, I have been going into the webites of a number of major companies, not just CPG / FMCG, but also Finance, Leisure, Transport, Retail and Pharmaceutical companies to name but a few. It has definitely been an interesting and often frustrating occupation, especially if like myself, you wanted to actually contact them.

I quickly learned that there are generally two ways to contact a company using the information on their website: through their investor relations group, or through their “Contact us” button – if and when you find it of course – usually top left or bottom right corners of the screen (so no-one can find it?)

The frustrating example of a connection journey

Let me describe a typical example of the connection journey. Clicking on the contact tag of a company’s website usually brings up a form to be completed, starting with the ominous question “Why do you want to contact us”. The choices proposed, from a list or drop down answer menu, include job interest, investment relations, sponsorship requests and – hopefully but not always! – customer services.

If you want to contact customer services, this choice takes you to another form that must be completed before you can start sharing the reason why you are contacting the company. The number of questions asked on this form suggests that the company is more interested in getting as much personal information from you as possible, just in case you leave before adding your details and comments!

In my case I wanted to write a letter to the company; I was surprised at how rarely this was given as one of the methods of contact. Phone number almost always, Email address often, but “snail mail” or a street address for a face-to-face meeting, no thank you! In fact there is often quite a list of telephone numbers for different purposes from which to choose, but usually the only postal address shown is for investor relations, which is generally managed by an outside organisation.

 

Connect on your Customers’ terms, not yours

All of this to say that if you want to be truly customer centric then you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you – and on their terms, not yours. Give them the opportunity to connect with you by phone, Fax, email or “snail mail”, and even give them your street address so they can pop in and speak to someone in person, face-to-face if they prefer. Connecting with the people that spend their money on your products and services should be viewed as a priviledge and defintely be on their terms not yours – they are doing you a favour, not the other way round!

 

How Customer centric is your website?

Now take a moment to have a look at your own website to see just how easy you make it for your own customers to contact you. Are you frustrating them by the labyrinth of pages they have to navigate to find the way they prefer to contact you? If you don’t make it easy, they may just interpret this as being a lack of interest in them and their comments on your part and in turn they might just lose interest in you, your products and services.

So the quick test of customer centricity for you:

1. Do you encourage and actively invite comments, complaints and feedback from your customers, consumers and clients?

2. Can your customers, consumers and clients easily connect with you, from the front page of your website?

3. Do you offer them all possible forms of contact, so they can choose the one with which they feel the most comfortable?

4. Do you take their perspective when proposing topics or the reasons for wanting to contact you?

5. Do you ask for information that is relevant and useful in order to respond to their contact only and nothing more?

If you don’t answer yes to all five questions, perhaps you need to take another look at improving your website and also your customer centricity.

 

Do you have any other ideas to add to my list to ensure web pages are customer-centric? If so, then please share them.

Need help in improving your own customer care? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here or check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on C3Centricity’s Comments page on July 28th 2011

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

How to use Social Media to Improve Customer Centricity

Are you looking for a way to shift your day-to-day business from a br and-centered way of thinking to a customer-centered way of acting? If so, look no further. This article will reveal how to use social media to show your customers you really value them.

If your organisation wants to become truly customer centric, you need to improve the engagement with the very people who make your business grow! The success of your business depends upon building relationships with your customers. Show your customers that you really value them. Start connecting with them: satisfy their needs and excite them with solutions to their problems.

Social media like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn is taking over from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in offering more people more ways to voice their opinion, good or bad, about the products and services they have tried.

Here are four things to review when improving your customer centricity using social media:

#1 Define how social media fits into your marketing and communication plans

Review all forms of connection with your customers. Think about direct contact via retail outlets, call centres, CRM activities, events and websites, or indirectly through retailers, advertising and market research. Think about how to integrate social media platforms effectively to engage with your customers.

Social Media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter offer you the fastest and most personal ways to get closer to your customers. In order to optimize their use, you need to define how they will fit into your marketing and communications plans. They can support and complement your other forms of communication, but to do this they must be integrated seamlessly into them.

#2 Experience where to engage with your target audience

Next you need to choose the most appropriate platform(s) for your target audience. Do they spend most of their time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or another social platform? Then once you have chosen the most relevant ones, start sharing valuable content via the different channels and monitor the results. Which channels generate the most engagement with the content you share?

Don’t expect your own br and pages to attract your customers if they are not supported and amplified through engagement on social platforms. A leading CPG company, with which I worked, found that more than two-thirds of their br and websites were being visited by less than 20 people per month! How is that for a huge waste of resources?

#3 Listen to what they want to hear

Every connection you make with your customers provides an opportunity for you to also ask questions or provide information back. This is particularly true with social media, where more people are likely to complain or ask questions than elsewhere, at least in developed markets. Although you may not like hearing negative comments about your products and services, it is better to find out and correct the issues quickly, than to discover the problem through falling sales, or worse, comments posted on the internet. Whilst you must respond and fast to criticism, better to take it offline than to start a lengthy discussion in public.

To attract your customers to engage with you on social media, there has to be something in it for them. Therefore it is essential to ask yourself “what do they want to hear, see or learn?” rather than “what do we want to tell them”. Social media provides an almost instantaneous contact with your customers, which means that you must always be open and ready to respond to the; they expect it! If you are only interacting with your customers on your terms you will quicly lose their interest and perhaps loyalty as well.

#4 Discover when they are most engaged in social media

The real challenge for your business is to discover what time of the day your costumers are most engaged in social media via the different channels. If you are doing business on a global scale, you’ll need different teams for each region. Gather smart data on a global and local scale to learn which parts of the day best support your engagement and customer centric behaviour.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions or comments? If so, please share them in the box below.

Need help in improving your own customer care? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here or check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

First published July 19th 2011 on MirrorYourself “The Social Media Coach to Launch Your Business”

 C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

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