As a modern business, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the mechanics of lead generation, to become preoccupied with “pipelines” and “funnels” and “nurturing strategies”. The digital age has ushered in many extraordinary time-saving advances and technologies, but it has also created complexity.
At the same time, it has formed an unavoidable distance between buyers and sellers.
Today, an online retailer may never have met one of his or her customers in person. Logically, then, the lead generation that was mostly unnecessary for their bricks-and-mortar precursor (maybe 20, 50 or 100 years ago) is vital for them.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they should spend all their time, resources and money on it.
Dana DiTomaso is the President of and a partner at Kick Point, a Canadian digital marketing agency. She says that, traditionally, businesses either don’t spend enough time on customer experience or they spend ample time doing it adequately at best.
Her suggested alternatives are relatively simple to implement but can make a huge difference to the way existing customers view your business. Perhaps equally important, though, as DiTomaso says, it’s “[w]ay cheaper to keep an existing customer than get a new one.”
Avoiding common customer experience management pitfalls
In her recent vlog ‘Building Better Customer Experiences’, DiTomaso says that many companies contact customers in one or more of four main ways. With a(n):
- Sales email
While none of these communication methods are inherently wrong (indeed an invoice is essential), she cautions that there are potential problems with each one.
Surveys can be too open-ended and vague. Invoices can be “impersonal” and come across as “weird”. Improvements with either of these can be a simple matter of finetuning – perhaps you can give some more thought to design or copywriting.
Newsletters and emails are a slightly different matter. DiTomaso says sending customers who have just bought or signed up for a product or service “hard sell” information on that product or service “makes it look like you don’t know what’s going on”. It can, she says “really destroy trust”.
And then there’s the problem of carefully making sure there’s no sales info in your newsletter or email to new customers only to have a sales or sign-up pop-up still appear on your website (in the case that you’re linking through to blog posts).
Annoying for customers but all easily fixed.
Pay attention to your customers on social media
DiTomaso says businesses who do customer service well find a happy medium between taking a vague interest in what customers say on social media and being unhealthily obsessed by it.
Full Contact lets you “take everyone's email addresses, run them through [the tool], and it will come back to you and say, ‘Here are the social accounts that this person has’. Then you go on Twitter and you follow all of these people, for example.”
Nuzzel helps you answer questions about what people share or are engaged in on social media. You can find out about all the people you follow or just a particular sub-set. Then, DiTomaso says:
You can see what your customers are really interested in, which can give you a good sense of what kinds of things [you] should be talking about.”
Nipping bad experiences in the bud is also important, and this is a great way of doing it. The trick is looking beyond what DiTomaso calls “branded mentions” – in other words being creative with your searches so they capture complaints or concerns that don’t specifically name your business.
“It's not particularly hard to monitor a specific list of people and see if they tweet things like, ‘I really hate my… insert what you are… right now,’ for example.
Become one of your own customers
DiTomaso recommends creating a fake customer – or many, if you have multiple sales personas – to conduct what she calls “post-sales monitoring”. Get an idea of exactly how it feels to be marketed to by your own businesses once you’ve gone from being a lead to a customer.
You should make sure this “person” gets all your emails, invoices and everything that “a regular customer [who] fits that persona group should get”.
It’s a great way of taking a step back from the daily grind of producing the marketing and looking at it from a different perspective.
DiTomaso’s has a warning, though. Once you set up such a customer (or customers), don’t give them “preferential treatment” – don’t be “extra nice” because you want to provide them with the very best experience you can. That will only skew results and ruin your experiment. To make this method work, you need to give your fake customer exactly what you’d give any other customer.
Look at content differently
DiTomaso’s final piece of advice is to consider your content from what might at first seem like an unorthodox angle.
Right now, we have a huge focus on new content, new content, new content all the time.”
But, as she points out, brilliant old content is still brilliant content. It may just need to be refreshed or adjusted to reflect a different season or slightly new circumstances. And the fact is, many new customers (and some existing customers) simply won’t have seen it the first time, anyway. The nature of this content is important, as well.
“It isn't just marketing messages that customers should be seeing,” DiTomaso says.
“They should be seeing all kinds of messages across your organisation because when a customer gives you money, it isn't just because your marketing message was great. It's because they believe in the thing that you are giving them. By reinforcing that belief through the types of content that you create, that you share, that you find that other people share… you can certainly improve that relationship with your customers and really turn just your average, run-of-the-mill customer into an actual raving fan.”
It’s all about behaviour
What we’ve covered above is some of the ways you can alter what you’re doing to improve the experience for your customers. In essence, changing the behaviour of your business. But what about the behaviour of customers… or potential customers?
Much research has been done on consumer behaviour over many decades. Indeed, RMIT’s Master of Marketing – offered entirely online – now incorporates Consumer Behaviour as one of its twelve constituent courses. As a student of the course, you’ll get an idea of how consumers’ decision making, biases and mental shortcuts affect their behaviour and so might inform the way you approach marketing and strategy.
Contact our Student Advisors today on 1300 701 171 to find out more about our online Master of Marketing degree program.