“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it” – Eli Broad In today’s world, the skill of successful negotiation is one that … Continued
“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it” – Eli Broad
In today’s world, the skill of successful negotiation is one that anyone must have. In fact, it is one of the top skills for job candidates since this skill is a combination of two critical skills – interpersonal and communication skills. Negotiation is the result of a lack of agreement on a solution for a problem / issue. Successful negotiation with customers is especially critical – agreement is essential to begin a relationship and work out an agreement that would be acceptable to the company and the customers. The most successful sales and marketing people would be those who know that every deal has scope for negotiation, and that the scope of successful negotiation with customers is a lot wider than simply haggling over pricing and other clauses. Is your company good at creating win-win situations through negotiation? Do the frontend employees have an aura of confidence and control?
Effective and successful negotiation is a factor of many aspects. To start with, ‘negotiators’ must be skilled in analysing problems and determining the interests of every party involved in a ‘deal’. Identifying the issues for all involved will enable successful negotiation by finding a common ground for all. Hence, problem analysis and solving is one of the topmost requirements for successful negotiation. Just as with any business aspect, preparation is quintessential to success for a negotiation deal too. This would include understanding goals, possible alternatives to achieve the said goals, and areas that could create complications. Successful negotiation would require that the negotiator study the ‘history’ of the parties involved, understand the relationship between the parties, any past disagreements or negotiation opportunities and the outcomes of the same. All these factors today would enable the person responsible for the negotiation to be more effective.
Another aspect of business and hence for successful negotiation as well, is active and patient listening. Negotiators must be willing and able to listen actively to each party – listening would involve reading body language (facial expressions, hand gestures, and overall body posture) in addition to the words spoken. This is important since a person may be uttering certain words, while the body language maybe in total contrast to the words – failure to understand both forms of communication could lead to a breakdown in the negotiation process. A skilled negotiator would know the benefits of spending more time listening actively than speaking before required.
For a negotiator to conduct a successful negotiation, it would be necessary to remain in control of her or his emotions. While empathy is important, feeling emotionally connected to any side or solution would lead to unfavourable results. The fact is that the parties involved would already have ‘emotional stake’ in the proceedings, and hence the negotiator would need to be the ‘neutral party’ and steer the ‘conversation’ to a logical and workable end. For a negotiation to be successful there must be no breakdown in communication, instead both parties must feel satisfied at the end of the ‘deal’, and this is possible when the negotiator remains unemotional towards any side.
The next skill for a successful negotiation would be the ability of the negotiator to communicate lucidly, effectively, and without bias. This is important for the negotiator to be able to convey all the points and information across to both parties such that there is no scope for confusion, ambiguity, and misunderstanding. Being able to communicate effectively can enable the negotiator to foster and create teamwork, cohesiveness, and collaboration – an atmosphere conducive for a peaceful and successful negotiation. Everyone involved must work together to reach an amicable and win-win situation. The skills mentioned, would not be as useful if the negotiator lacked the ability of making sound and swift decisions. Acting decisively is essential to avoid a stalemate or ‘dead end’.
A negotiator’s characteristics and personality play a major role in any successful negotiation. The parties involved must perceive the negotiator as being high on integrity, ethics, and reliability. This would promote an environment of trust and the parties would be more likely to accept the decisions of the negotiator, in the belief that she or he will ensure follow through on promises by the other party.
Just as the role of the negotiator is important for successful negotiation, the mind-set of the parties involved is equally necessary. Before going into a negotiation, it is important for both parties to prioritize their goals – especially if a ‘compromise’ is expected as the outcome. Each party must know what they can give up, what they absolutely must have, and the goals they expect to be fulfilled through the negotiation. In addition, in the event the negotiation does not go as planned, each party should know the alternatives and when it would be acceptable and better to walk away rather than settling for a below optimum solution. The parties must come into the negotiation with a mind-frame of wanting to negotiate – this means being open to the prospect of problems, making an effort to resolve them, and ensuring empathy and fairness in the dealings. If both parties and the negotiator were to keep these points in mind, successful negotiation would not be that hard.
The meaning of a successful negotiation would be one, which promotes long-term and substantial benefits to both parties involved. Even if all deals are not able to be won or negotiated, reaching an understanding and a compromise would help salvage a poor situation and help to build a beneficial relationship. The opening of the negotiation is extremely critical to the success of a negotiation – the creation of interest is necessary at the beginning of the negotiation. The opening statement must be precise, credible, and easily understandable – which would lead to the beginning of a dialogue rather than a one-sided discourse. The negotiator must be able to establish who both the parties are, why they are there, and why both parties should be interested in whatever she or he as to say. There are several ways to begin the negotiation, but the best way is when both sides feel comfortable in entering into a dialogue and addressing the questions the other may have.
A successful negotiation would possibly be one that in the beginning is able to pinpoint the problems and opportunities of the parties involved. Without doing so, the negotiation would not be able to proceed further without problems. Everyone should have a chance to speak, discuss, and express their problems – no one should feel unheard and unimportant.
It is important for both parties to do most of the talking. The more they talk, the better it would be for the negotiator – the understanding of the needs of both sides would be a lot clearer. The reason being that talking could bring out some uncovered / undiscovered problems, and reveal some unanticipated yet effective solutions come to the fore. It is necessary to ensure that negotiators keep the conversation away from damaging negotiation mistakes. No one involved must assume that the other party understands the other party’s business, products, and company. It is important to ensure that the other party understands what one’s company stands for and how it is different from competitors. Successful negotiation is therefore, the job of everyone involved. Is your company adept in these skills?
“Always strive to understand your customers’ likely emotional state.” Adapt your word choice and tone accordingly” – Jay Ivey Among the top ways to building sound relationships with customers is effective communication and this is possible when a company is … Continued
“Always strive to understand your customers’ likely emotional state.” Adapt your word choice and tone accordingly” – Jay Ivey
Among the top ways to building sound relationships with customers is effective communication and this is possible when a company is able to tailor its messages to suit the target audience. It is imperative for a company to ensure that the language and tone for customer communication aligns with the customer’s expectations and the culture of the company. When customer communication is effective, it would engage the audience quickly and produce optimal results.
As with everything else, it is necessary for a company to know and understand its audience before attempting to build a relationship with them. Since every company would have all kinds of customers, adapting language and tone for customer communication is quintessential to the success of its communication strategy. The aim of every communication should be to achieve certain goals, get across to a target set of customers, and help customers to get valuable information, which they can use to their benefit. To adapt the language and tone for customer communication to ensure maximum reach, it would be prudent for a company to segment its customers based on certain common needs and address each customer segment individually. By sending out an ‘umbrella’ communication, the probability of converting customers and bringing in more sales would be reduced significantly.
The reason for adapting language and tone for customer communication is for a company to be able to design its message appropriately. A company can use the data and information it has about its target audience, tailor the message with appropriate language and tone, and therefore would be better prepared to anticipate the reaction of the customer segments the message goes out to. Based on the reaction and feedback, it would be easier for a company to refine its next communication to do a better job at meeting the objectives of customers and its own business. The fact is that every customer / every target audience is different and unique. To maximize the effectiveness of messages on various audiences, the approach for each must be different – for example certain words that may be appropriate for one set of audience, may be completely inappropriate for another. Failure to modify and adapt the language and tone for customer communication can potentially result in misunderstanding, offence, and serious issues with customers, which sometimes may be irreparable. Rather than taking such a risk, it would be better for a company to spend extra effort and time on its customer communication.
Customers are a demanding lot, and are extremely sensitive to demeanour and ‘attitudes’ expressed through any means of communication from companies. It is therefore, necessary for a company’s service team to receive thorough and consistent training on the nuances and subtleties of language and communication, and know exactly what language and tone must be used for customer communication. Customer communication must never be generalized – it must focus on the recipient’s needs, expectations, and emotions. Choosing the right language and tone for customer communication is not a one-off task – it would need consistent improvement and evolving in order to keep pace with the needs of the varying customer base. Service staff must be empathetic to the needs and emotions of customers – for example if a customer seems upset, all the customer would want is that the problem be resolved swiftly and effectively. All that the service staff need to do is to give the customer what she or he wants.
The point to be remembered is that adapting the language and tone for customer communication is not always as easy as it may sound. There is no way of knowing what kind of language and or tone a customer would be happy with, and getting a grip around these two important aspects is extremely essential for a company, and one that requires constant work and effort. The fact is that the language and tone for customer communication should depend on the situation and the news to be delivered. A light and casual tone will work just fine for a fun new product, whereas such a tone would not work if the company were reaching out to a customer in duress. For instance, if an insurance company were denying a claim, and the communiqué had a casual and breezy tone with jargon-filled language, there is no doubt that the customer would become even more irate, negatively affecting customer satisfaction. It would seem obvious that an informal tone in a sensitive situation would be an extremely poor move, and companies must pay close attention to the kind of language and tone they use for customer communication. It is important to find a balance.
The focus of customer service is and should be to listen to customers and offer them the best and speediest solutions. The best way to depict this to customers is create customer communication that is ‘humane’ and seems adapted to the specific needs and expectations of the customers. A company must strive to show customers through the communiqués that the company considers their feelings, and is committed to supporting them and their business. If a company were unsure of the language and tone for customer communication, a neutral tone would work best. This does not mean that the tone appears robotic and rote – natural flowing language, interspersed with interesting information would be extremely appropriate. In the example mentioned above, the study shows that at least 78% customers would be miffed if their request were denied using casual language and tone. On the contrary, if the request were granted using a formal tone, customers would not really give it much thought and neither would the fulfilment of their request using ‘appropriate’ language affect their satisfaction levels with the company.
Dealing with irate and dissatisfied customers is a lot harder – they would be a lot more sensitive to poor language and tone. Apart from adapting language and tone for such customers, a company would need to rely on other techniques to alleviate the anger and dissatisfaction of these customers. The use of colloquialism and emoticons are a strict no-no when dealing with irate customers, and even other customers. Even though these two traits seem to be common for digital communication, it does not imply that customers find them acceptable. However, if a customer seems to use emoticons a lot, it would be acceptable to mirror the style – in fact, this might even please the customer. It is best to assess the situation carefully before formulating any communication.
Adapting the language and tone for customer communication does pose a challenge, especially since we know that every customer is different, and even if a particular kind of communication style may have worked with a customer earlier, it may not necessarily work in the future. Service staff must know exactly what customers need, the level of discretion they would have to meet those needs, and the kind of communiqués they could send out to customers. Without empowerment, service staff would be unable to satisfy customer requests, making their job even more stressful. Adapting language and tone for customer communication is an important and critical part of service excellence, and everyone in the company must know exactly what is required to please the customers of the company.
The future of customer communication will possibly be through online and mobile tools and companies must streamline their communication process to provide customers with the very best. Adapting language and tone for customer communication is just one of the many things a company could do to keep their customers happy and satisfied for a long time.
“The essence of selling is figuring out how what you’re offering will help customers accomplish their objectives–not your objective, their objectives. Anything else is pointless and self-serving.” – How One Entrepreneur Learned to Sell Building and sustaining a successful business … Continued
“The essence of selling is figuring out how what you’re offering will help customers accomplish their objectives–not your objective, their objectives. Anything else is pointless and self-serving.” – How One Entrepreneur Learned to Sell
Building and sustaining a successful business is not easy in today’s competitive marketplace. The key to keeping a strong business is retaining customers for the longest time in order to foster loyalty and brand affinity. Profitability comes from existing customers – the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of a company’s business comes through 20% of the company’s loyal existing customers. The foundation of a successful business would be to ascertain and determine whom these 20% customers are, and then go all out to cater to their every need and satisfy every expectation. The existing customers, who have stayed with the company for a while, have value – both financially and from a partnership and loyalty point of view. They have faith in the company and its products, and such faith is not easy to build, but is extremely easy to lose, and then a company not only loses existing customers, but several potential ones too.
With time, companies are increasingly realizing that it is a lot easier, faster, and cheaper to sell more and consistently to existing customers than it is to gain new customers. For companies to become and remain successful, they must increase the CLV (customer lifetime value) for each customer by nurturing the relationships and creating bonds with them. In order to retain and leverage the power of existing customers, companies must look at personalizing the relationships, building rapport, remaining available for the customers, and consistently communicate with them. It is therefore, necessary to nurture the existing customers, listen to their needs, and deliver top class customer service in order to retain them for the longest time. Paying regular attention to the existing customers will help a company become more profitable and maintain a sustainably successful business.
In the realm of managing existing customers, the main thing is to know them well. Companies are now spending an increasing amount of resources on CRM solutions to help them deliver better service to existing customers, thereby increasing loyalty and profitability, as compared to selling to new customers. As companies expand, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain an accurate and relevant customer base, with relevant details including customer history with the company. The departments within companies that have access to these details, seem to ‘hoard’ them, working in silos, rather than centralising this valuable information. The combination of understanding customers and using CRM tools will enable companies to appear distinctive and deliver uniqueness, while having the ability to upsell and cross sell.
Many companies make the mistake of first trying to sell and then forging a relationship. However, the starting point of retaining and selling more, to existing customers is gaining their trust. The challenge is that trust does not happen overnight – it takes years to build and would happen only when the company consistently delivers on customer expectations. Customers today receive information and product choices from the many market players, many of whom have not built a relationship with the customer. Hence, while customers are ‘hit’ with information from even reputed brands, they tend to move towards companies that they know, like, and trust, since they would rather remain with such companies than risk expending effort and money on companies they would be unsure about. Existing customers are one of the most potent and effective asset of any company and the more customers a company is able to retain, the better would its revenue and profits become over time.
It has become even more imperative for companies to remain a trusted and reliable ‘partner’ for their customers, given the highly competitive market, which is becoming fiercer by the day. Existing customers will remain when a company can consistently help them tide over their problems, add value to their business, and just be there when customers need them. For a company to be able to sell more to existing customers, it should be able to convince them of its reliability and trustworthiness not just in the present but in the future as well. Building trust, as mentioned, is a time consuming process, which must be developed consciously – open and regular communication and a focus on the customer are effective ways to do so. Existing customers and prospective ones too, should be able to trust that the company they are in business with or would want to go into business with. They must be able to believe that the company has their best interests at heart and will do everything possible to help its customers achieve their goals. Research shows that most of the issues that customers have with companies, arise from poor and inconsistent communication and a mismanagement of the relationship with the customer, which ultimately leads to a breakdown of trust and compatibility.
The foremost method of selling more to existing customers is a company’s willingness and ability to listen and act on the feedback provided by customers. When companies listen and act on customer feedback, they would be able to customize their products and personalize solutions for their customers. The idea is to increase the level of satisfaction that existing customers have with the company – the happier these customers would be, the better brand advocates they would become, thereby attracting more customers for the company, and providing repeat business. Companies must deliver on what customers expect – this is the most basic requirement for building trust and a sound relationship with customers, which in turn makes for lucrative opportunities to sell more – a complete cycle, which then becomes a habit.
For existing customers to remain so, it is necessary for them to know that a company would be able to do what it promised and what it is set up to do. If a company portrays itself as a low cost high value service provider, this is exactly what customers will expect not just in the present, but going forward too. The fact however, is that customer expectations do not remain the same – they are dynamic and unless a company can keep pace by altering its value proposition, it would never be able to satisfy its existing customers, let alone prospective ones. The comments and testimonials of existing customers is the best way any company today can gain new customers – the feeling of ease that new customers would get from the opinions and views of existing customers will never happen irrespective of the claims from the company. Hence, not only do existing customers provide repeat and increased business, they can potentially act as highly effective sales personnel for the company.
It is necessary for companies to remember that customers are real people, with the same feelings and problems as anyone else, and hence must be treated as individuals and not sales numbers. Companies may believe that manipulating customers through loyalty programs, incentives, and other such ‘lures’ will keep customers for a long time. This may be the case short term, but eventually what customers expect is top quality service, courtesy, respect, and delivery on the promises a company makes to them. If companies expect to succeed and retain their existing customers, they must align themselves to the customers, giving power to customers to ‘subscribe’ to a relationship which they know would provide value to them. Companies must keep customers at the centre of what they do by first placing themselves in the ‘shoes’ of the customers to gain a well-rounded insight of how customers view them. When a company focuses on strengthening its bonds with existing customers through every possible means, these customers respond whole-heartedly and help companies become successful. How many existing customers does your company have?
“A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better.” – Sir Richard Branson The business world today is the age of the customer, and it is in the best interest of companies to do whatever they can … Continued
“A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better.” – Sir Richard Branson
The business world today is the age of the customer, and it is in the best interest of companies to do whatever they can to improve customer experience on the company website, and every customer communication channel. Reports and research revealed that at least 89% companies would compete on customer experience more than any other factor, and the journey of a person with a company starts a long time before the person becomes an actual customer. This ‘introduction’ to the company / brand for a person would most likely be through the company website, and hence it is necessary for a company to ensure that the customer experience on the company website is top class and such that people want to come back and become actual buying customers. Research shows that even though 80% companies may believe that they deliver top service and customer experience, only 8% customers agree. This gap causes most of the problems between companies and customers.
Let us look at what companies can do to improve customer experience on the company website and further. We know that customers today are pampered with choices and options, and the amount of information they receive daily can become overwhelming. These factors have led customers to become impatient and have a shorter attention span, which means that if they are unable to find instantly the value proposition on the company website, the customer experience would be unsatisfactory and they would leave. Companies must check and re-check whether their website is effective, easily navigated, and whether the essence of the company comes through immediately.
Another popular method of getting the company’s message across and for improving customer experience, especially for repeat customers, is by creating personalized videos. Additionally, using customized, bright, and colourful photographs on the website to communicate the essence and ‘personality’ of the brand can exponentially improve customer experience – so much more can be communicated through pictures and photographs. Several social sites have released new features and tools to enable companies to provide great customer service and improve customer experience – since customers increasingly use social media to connect with brands and companies all the time.
Customers do not like to wait for service or information – if a company does not respond to the expectations, the customer experience is affected negatively. To ensure speedy and more effective service, live chats have become a great way to ‘convert visitor traffic’ to actual buying customers. When live chats work efficiently, customers are able to receive instant answers – almost as soon as they ‘land’ on the company website. Adding live chat to the website not only provides customers with another method of communication, but it can soon become the preferred mode of communication for them given its immediate and timely ‘nature’.
As we have mentioned several times, it is important for a company to understand its prospective and existing customers well before it can do anything for them. The better a company is able to understand from where the visitors to its website come from, and what they would expect, the more it would be able to improve customer experience. Irrespective of what a company’s website may communicate in the present, and how much success a company may get through it, the scope of improving customer experience will always remain. It would be prudent and necessary for a company to test consistently which pages on the website it can change and improve, in order to increase interest, engagement, and enhance the conversion rate.
The good news is that companies today have various tools at their disposal, which would enable them to gain feedback about what works and does not work on their website. These tools not only let companies know what is not working but also why, making it simpler for companies to make amends and thereby improve customer experience of their website. Something as simple as decreasing the number of ‘fields’ on a feedback or order form can significantly increase the customer experience, which in turn would encourage repeat visits and buys.
If a visitor does follow up the website visit with an email for information, it is necessary for a company to respond instantly. Not doing so amounts to poor customer experience, and it is unlikely that the customer would return. In addition, the website must visibly display all the possible phone numbers for the company, including ones for after office hours. The company must ensure that it is able to provide as personalized service as possible even via the phone – integrating the information from the website with the CRM systems would enable the company to tailor the conversations for the customer calling, which in turn would surely elevate the customer experience.
In addition to the above methods, leveraging on the strength and potency of social media to improve customer experience would surely be beneficial for a company. The company’s website ‘visitors’ must have access to all the social media sites the company operates, and these sites must be consistently monitored in order to respond to customers speedily. It is necessary for a company to encourage the visitors to explore the entire website by placing the benefits they would receive in a visible ‘place’ on the website. As much positivity a company can display, it would have a better chance of attracting and keeping visitors longer on the site. In addition, visitors must be able to clearly see and use the CTA button (call to action). The call to action must be clear, visible, and easy to understand – more than one call to action would mean that the company would need to re-look at its website.
Customers love information and content that they can readily use. Companies that provide this are better placed to improve the customer experience on the company website. Blogs and interesting articles add serious value to a website. The topics in these content pieces could range from industry information, to subjects related to the company’s offerings, or any other topic that would help the company to educate its audience, and give them more reasons to ‘visit’ and buy. Just as clearly spelling out what a company can do and provide, it is also necessary to ensure that what the company cannot / does not engage in, is also amply clear. The fact is that just as not all customers are good, all website traffic too, is not necessarily helpful. The idea should never be to try please everyone – this is neither possible nor necessary. Being specific and clear on the website will keep the useless leads away.
Whatever a company does to improve customer experience on the website will never be absolute or enough. It is necessary to consistently upgrade the website and keep it looking and ‘sounding’ fresh. People who shop online are impressed by visually appealing, contemporary looking websites with fresh and relevant content. Sites that seem old fashioned and dated can easily put prospective customers off for good. Consistent upgrading is necessary on a website in order for it to generate the revenue and results for a company as expected. In addition, constantly upgrading the website will ensure that the security features of the website remain intact too. To improve customer experience on your company website ensure that the functionality and features are amply clear, and that navigation is simple, fast, and secure – such a website is sure to gain more attention, customers, and revenue for the company.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook We know how many players there are in the market today, and how much information goes to … Continued
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook
We know how many players there are in the market today, and how much information goes to customers – existing and potential – each day. Often customers are so overwhelmed that they choose to ignore or even block out the information, advertisements, and other promotional materials. In America today, there are probably about 8.6 million people, who use ad blockers, which is roughly an increase of 26% since last year. However, these ad avoidance tactics prove to be an opportunity for companies to reach customers via unforced and more amenable touch-points, which would include brand influencers. It is therefore necessary for a company to find its brand influencers, who would help the company to use its content in a way that would enhance awareness, reach, engagement, and even conversions. These ‘influencers’ can, if ‘used’ judiciously, can create top line content for the company, help with distribution, brand reach, and engagement to an extremely viable and relevant set of audiences.
Using brand influencers is a method of marketing to a targeted set of customers, which in turn can potentially influence a much wider set of potential customers – even those that the company may be unaware. Of course, using brand influencers to market, promote, and sell the company’s offerings is not a new method. Brands consistently use movie stars, sports geniuses, and other such ‘celebrities’ to promote their products – and those companies that are unable to spend the huge sums required to pay these ‘celebrities’ are using other tactics to serve as brand influencers. Today these ‘small time’ but equally effective brand influencers have created a niche for themselves – top bloggers, ‘stars’ on popular social media channels, and other such people – are gaining popularity. Prospective customers tend to trust the opinion of such ‘influencers’, and would be more likely to buy product and or services recommended by them. Using brand influencers is a method of marketing to leverage the trust and confidence these people enjoy, to grow their business, enhance reputation, and build credibility.
Has your company found its brand influencers? How does a company identify them? Experts recommend that a company’s first step should be to identify and get a fix on its target customers. Even though the company’s products may have mass appeal, it is always prudent to focus on a set group as far as possible. The more focused a company can make its target customer segment, the more relevant, personalized, and engaging it would be able to make its communiqués. Once a company is able to narrow down its target customers, the next step would be to ascertain its goals and performance indicators that it would expect to achieve through the brand influencers. Based on the goals and KPIs, a company would be able to decide the ‘kind’ of influencers it would need – higher conversions, enhanced engagement, more brand awareness, greater reach, and other such goals.
It must be understood that unless a company is able to how to measure its goals and put a timeframe by when they can be achieved, goals would be useless. It would be pointless to reach out to potential brand influencers without deciding the goals and KPIs, since these would be necessarily required to measure and improve the company’s efforts in the direction of brand awareness and engagement. Some of the performance indicators would be inflow of website traffic, increase in conversions and sales, enhanced engagement, and higher brand reach. The best brand influencers would be those who would be able increase the reach, relevance, and interest of the target audience – not just work on one aspect of the KPIs. A company should ascertain how many people would see, read, and react to the messages of the brand influencers, how well the ‘influencer’ would be able to align the audience with the company’s values and vision. In addition, the company must be able to know how much importance the influencer places on the company and its offerings such that she or he exerts enough effort to make the brand resonate with customers. It is obvious then, that the aspects are inter-dependent, and it would be necessary for a company to find its brand influencers accordingly.
The tools available to companies today help them make the right decision with regard to which brand influencers to use. Through these tools, a company can search relevant content and find the relevant influencers by searching keywords pertinent to the industry of operation. In addition, some of the tools also provide data with regard to the number of times a post is read and shared, and which influencers seem to have a better ‘hold’ over the minds and opinions of the target audience. The main aim, of the popular ‘tools, is to find a company the best brand influencers who will help it grow its business exponentially.
Once a company has been able to identify the brand influencers it would like to associate with, the company must monitor their activities closely on a daily basis. The company must observe the kind of content and messages these influencers send out, and which of the messages resonate most with the audience. This is a vital and crucial step, which many companies make the mistake of ignoring, which in turn lowers their chance of getting the best brand influencers, forming a long-term association with them, and increasing the potential of their business. Once a company would be convinced of the efficacy of a brand influencer / s for its business, the next step would be to begin the process of building a strong and durable relationship with them. This again is a crucial stage, and companies must remember not to ‘jump’ straight into a partnership, without going through this step. By monitoring the potential brand influencers, a company would know exactly how to engage in a conversation with them, and how best to approach them for the most effective results. While it is important to build a relationship with the brand influencers, there is no single way to approach and engage with them – each company must assess the most effective way.
When reaching out to potential brand influencers there are however, some common methods. The first connection message that a company sends out must be personal, interesting, and engaging. Influencers receive requests and offers constantly, and they would be more amenable to respond to a company that seems extraordinary and with whom they would benefit too. The message should tell them that the company has done its groundwork and research, and that the partnership would be a perfect fit for both parties involved. The message must also reflect the direct and long-term benefits to the influencer – this will enable the influence to advocate the products / brand with more enthusiasm and conviction. Brand influencers too need a reason to help a business grow – they need to know that their time and effort would yield ‘fruits’ for them too. A two-way beneficial relationship always works better and lasts longer.
The use of brand influencers is growing – reports suggest that at least 75% marketers use it, and 47% say that this method is extremely effective and beneficial to their business. As an increasing number of companies look at using brand influencers to grow their business, it is sure to become a front-runner in the list of marketing tactics. However, businesses must remember to conduct research, do the groundwork, ascertain their target audience, and only then identify the best and most effective brand influencers for their company. Not all influencers may prove ‘right’ for a company – so it is imperative that a company directs its energy and focus on getting the right ‘partner’ for their business.
“Customers buy for their reasons, not yours” – Orvel Ray Wilson You had a great idea and have been able to cobble together the resources, funding and the wherewithal to create a unique service or product out of that idea… Excellent … Continued
“Customers buy for their reasons, not yours” - Orvel Ray Wilson
You had a great idea and have been able to cobble together the resources, funding and the wherewithal to create a unique service or product out of that idea… Excellent so far! However, you now come to the biggest challenge of all: reaching a target audience. Getting the word out is part of the challenge; ensuring that the word reaches the right audience is the other part of the challenge. So how will you get out the word about your product/ service and ensure that the word reaches those people who are most likely to become your customers? What are the most effective ways to reach your target audience?
The founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company, Milton Hershey had a simple mantra for success: give them quality; that is the best kind of advertising he said. Fair enough -quality does indeed speak for itself. However, we live in far more complex times when competition is cutthroat; where effective communication takes many different forms. The straightforward marketing techniques that worked earlier may well work today; but you will need a lot more to set you and your product apart; to gain a foothold within the crowded mind space of the would-be customer where so many jostle for space.
The first and most obvious step towards letting people know about your brand and to know the most effective ways to reach your target audience, would be to identify the people you want your message to reach. This requires significant amounts of research and data gathering; while you may be thinking that it is worth your while to engage a professional to carry out market research for you, there is much that you can do yourself.
The age, gender, income group, age group, geographical region that you want to target – you probably have a good idea about this given that you know your product/ service, and its utility best. Another way to identify your target audience is to observe your competition to understand the core audience and how the competition serves him. Research, studies and surveys will also offer insight to help decide upon effective ways to reach your target audience.
The type of product or service you offer will largely determine your target audience. A makeup blog holds no interest for the male demographic for instance. If you customize skateboards, you are hardly going to benefit from communicating with senior citizens. A product such as e-cigarettes is not interesting for anyone other than a smoker or someone close to a smoker who wishes that their loved one would give up the habit. An educational product or service is not likely to be of interest to anyone except educators or perhaps parents of school going children. If someone is offering a cleaning service this is necessarily for a specified geographical area.
If your product is generic and appeals to several different demographics, find other ways to identify your target audience. For instance if its clothes you are selling, obviously everyone needs those! However research shows that about 50% of millennial women (as opposed to 36% of older women) shop for clothes on an average twice a month and millennial men spend twice as much on clothes when compared with other generations of men.
Use a funnel approach to arrive at your target by such a process of elimination so you do not waste your time or resources communicating with people who are not likely to be your customers. Once you know whom you want to get across the message of your product or service to, you can decide what means of communication to use. If your target audience is young and tech savvy, you can of course use social media and online resources to send out your message. If fact you ignore this at your own peril!
Older target audiences may be less tech savvy and also more reluctant to receive information from unconventional sources. They may not only be more familiar with print media or periodicals, they may trust these sources more as well. While TV has mass appeal and perhaps the widest reach, it is an expensive medium. Consider radio – a conventional platform with a very wide reach but with lower costs than TV in terms of content creation and dissemination.
For some products and services, events or sponsorship may be the way to creating awareness and brand awareness. In some cases, sales promotions are the most effective way to communicate with an audience because the idea of getting discounts is just that attractive to some consumers. Networking and creating partnerships are other ways of getting your message out there; where your relationship with established brands can be leveraged to translate into sales for you – some of the most effective ways to reach your target audience.
Creating viral content can be a very effective and economical way to get your point across as well. You would of course have to give a great deal of thought to how you would go about creating the type of interesting and original content that people are going to like enough to share willingly; the type of content that is likely to go viral. Consider for instance, the witty Nutella adverts that everyone was sharing not so long ago. The campaign tapped into the popularity of the product itself and the special relationship that so many have with the nutty, gooey sweet brown stuff! Sometimes a viral campaign may simply be that clever or may relate to a social issue so that people feel compared to share it. Witness the huge success of the Dumb Ways to Die campaign. Originally created to increase safety on Melbourne’s Metro trains, the campaign became so popular it took on a life all its own. Similarly, in a viral campaign, your message may be by the way; but it will still be communicated.
Consider a popular toiletries company’s advertisements that showed how makeup, air brushing and other artificial aids that can help people look better. Not only did these ads go viral for the truth they spoke of and the self-affirming impact they had, they helped create a specific type of brand awareness for itself. Consumers started to associate the company with honesty, which had an additional hugely beneficial impact.
You want your product or service to be viewed a certain way: smart, clever, young, wise, mature or whatever. You want that what you say resonates with your target audience to give you a competitive advantage. Think long and hard about what message you want to send out and ensure that you remain faithful to that by being consistent in all your communications. You may tweak your communications to adapt with different audiences, but a certain consistent structure is important to maintain. Timing is vital as well. How well you time your communication will determine how well it is received and how successful it is in creating brand recall.
When you’re creating the key message, don’t forget things like store signage, or website development… the basic look and feel of your business; the first impression that a potential customer gets of your brand.
Happy customers are happy to recommend a product or service. It used to be good old word of mouth; now the reach of simple world of mouth recommendations has increased exponentially thanks to the internet. After you’ve done your best to deliver a quality product or service, encourage or incentivize positive feedback on your own or other websites or your social networking pages. Good online reviews are long lasting recommendations that will stand you in good stead for a significant length of time.
“Digital Asset Management empowers content marketers to deploy the right visual content to the right channel, in the right format, at the right time, for the right audience.” – Widen – Digital Asset Management Digital asset management or DAM is … Continued
“Digital Asset Management empowers content marketers to deploy the right visual content to the right channel, in the right format, at the right time, for the right audience.” – Widen – Digital Asset Management
Digital asset management or DAM is about how a company uses practices, software, and policies to monitor and optimally use the company’s digital assets. According to experts, digital asset management solutions must display the culture, thoughts, and work processes of the company – a collective consciousness. For a company, proper DAM would ensure that everyone working in the company currently and in the future would gain answers to all their questions simply by looking at the data. Digital asset management is so important because it proves to be invaluable for creating engaging and memorable experiences necessary to attract and retain customers. The longer a company can keep customers engaged, the higher the chances of brand loyalty and affinity. Digital asset management solutions and systems enable a company create, manage, and disseminate digital content with consistency across channels, ensuring that it reflects the ‘personality’ of the brand, thereby reaching a wider audience more effectively.
Today most transactions and interactions have ‘turned digital’, which has changed the landscape of marketing, asset management, service, and other domains directly connected to a company’s customers. Given these facts, at least 67% companies have looked at increasing the budget for managing digital content and initiatives. In the digital world, digital assets determine the customer’s experiences significantly, and it would be prudent for companies to ensure that their teams and technologies work cohesively, in order to ensure success through customer satisfaction. By integrating digital asset management with customer experiences, companies can swiftly and effectively, deliver rich content and high quality media. This in turn enhances customer interactions by making them relevant, personalized, and more efficient – all factors that keep customers with a company and make them want to help the company become successful.
Many companies today (84%) believe that one of their biggest challenges in digital asset management is locating files. This becomes even more critical with regard to customer data and information – imagine being unable to locate information because it is scattered across files, hard drives, and possibly ‘the cloud’. The other major benefit of digital asset management is that it conjoins with customer experiences, and provides a company with in-depth expertise related to compliance management, removal of legal hassles usually associated with negotiation rights, and of course expertise in managing every customer experience and interaction. Digital asset management for customers is about a company being able to protect its assets across every campaign, which in turn would be beneficial for customers too. The complexity of managing so many assets is simplified through the ‘marriage’ of digital asset management and customer experience management. The conjoined system ensures that the relevant content becomes approved, available, and protected effectively across every channel and customer touch-point.
A company’s digital asset management generates the most value for customers, because it the company is able to deliver consistent, engaging, and personalized customer experiences. A happy combination of DAM and customer experiences enables a company to use the content that works best for customers, and can be presented in the right context to customers. This essentially means that a company would be able to serve customers better since they would have access to the customer’s history with the company and the details of all interactions customers may have had with the brand in the past. Customers expect the very best and the most relevant products and it is the job of companies to ensure that they provide customers with what they need. Through an integrated digital asset management and customer experience process and strategy, the company would be able to offer its best assets in a way that meets and maybe exceeds their expectations. A company may have the fanciest technology and the flashiest advertisements for its products, but it would not be taking full advantage of its assets without a proper integration of digital asset management and customer experiences. It would not be able to deliver the relevant assets to the right customers at the time that they expect.
In the business world today, both the marketing and IT departments are responsible for digital asset management and for personalizing the customer experience. Companies today understand that they must invest in the latest marketing technology and the IT department has a pivotal role in helping companies decide on those technologies. These two departments must work closely to align digital asset management and customer experiences, ensuring that the technology remains relevant, durable, helps to meet the customer’s and business’ requirements. The technology must help the company by being reliable and applicable at a global level. Neither of the departments must waste resources especially time to search for the assets of the company, or in fretting about permissions, or manually aligning the digital assets to customer interactions – the combination of digital asset management and customer experience will ensure ease of operation.
There are several companies today doing remarkably well in creating top class customer experiences, simply by aligning digital asset management and customer experiences. However, it must be remembered that it is not only the ‘big boys’ who would need such alignment and integration. Customer behaviour and expectations are unique and they are demanding from every company, and hence brands must formulate effective selling and marketing strategies, and be able to present their digital assets – read content – to their customers.
With the rise of digital content across all industries, competition has become tougher making companies look at modernizing and automating their processes and methods of communication. Companies understand the importance of online reputation management and the management of content – this enables them to work towards creating seamless methods for designing and distribution of content. Of course, it is necessary for this content to appear similar and relevant across different channels, platforms, and electronic devices. Successful companies know that content is not only about relevance but also about being compliant, and even though digital asset management is a new area and businesses are taking time to understand it, failure to adapt will result in issues around customer data and the company’s asset security and privacy, leading to serious problems for the company.
Through digital asset management a company is able to secure the relevant and required permissions and rights to effective content such as text, videos, images, and other multimedia. Digital content has to be compatible and compliant – across all channels, without compromise. Today the number of businesses that have adopted digital asset management continues to rise. There seems to however, be a lack of skilled employees to use these systems and leverage its strengths to help enhance customer experiences and help the business to progress and reach its goals. Since digital asset management and customer experiences are tied together closely, companies without in-house capability must collaborate with professional agencies to effectively manage the alignment. Today innovation and efficient implementation of communications is a necessity for all companies spanning all industries and markets. By using digital asset management, a company would become quality and compliance assured, and would be able to increase their ROI on customers, thereby improving their revenue and profits. Companies would be able to focus on more important and strategic business processes, and be able to serve customers better, leading to happy loyal customers. Is your company using digital asset management?
“In your business, do what you love and outsource the rest. Remember you’re the boss” – First Step Virtual Assistant We know that today, marketing is an inextricable part of service to customers. Marketing efforts cannot survive in isolation and … Continued
“In your business, do what you love and outsource the rest. Remember you’re the boss” – First Step Virtual Assistant
We know that today, marketing is an inextricable part of service to customers. Marketing efforts cannot survive in isolation and must reflect the efforts of a company to look at things from the customer’s perspective. However, given that marketing is a time-consuming activity and companies today have their hands full with keeping customers happy, running their businesses, outdoing competitors, and constantly developing products and services. With so much going on outsourcing marketing efforts seems like an attractive proposition, but most companies want to keep control and do not look at outsourcing. For those stuck between these opposing needs, making the decision of whether they should look at outsourcing marketing efforts or not becomes a herculean task.
In the interest of a healthy and constructive discussion, let us look at the reasons for and against outsourcing marketing efforts. The underlying premise is that companies can benefit, and at the same time ensure that their customers benefit too. Let us first analyse the reasons for looking at outsourcing this critical to success activity. As mentioned, time today seems more limited than ever, for all and hence becomes one of the most forceful reasons for a company to look at outsourcing marketing efforts. Creating, distributing, and analysing top class marketing content in the form of words, graphics, colours, and videos takes up a great deal of time and effort. Additionally, a company would need to keep in constant touch with and would need to interact with the readers of the blogs and ‘followers’ on social media, which is again a time consuming activity. If a company lacks in-house capability to make these actions a success, outsourcing marketing efforts could prove to be a viable and resourceful solution – it would free up the human resource to focus on high-priority activities.
Today there are several professional marketing firms and agencies with dedicated teams of experts specializing in all facets of marketing, including top class content, branding, promotion, and distribution. These professionals would be well placed to develop and put into action, marketing campaigns with expertise, such that the campaigns would translate to better results and high ROI. In this then, outsourcing marketing efforts would make business sense. Studies show that when a company used a professional marketing agency for its marketing efforts, the company was able to double its revenue in four months, the company witnessed a 12-fold increase of revenue per email, and the average CLV rose by about twenty-nine percentage. The other advantage of using a professional marketing firm is focus and concentration on the work at hand. As professionals, they would know which strategy and tools to deploy such that the ROI for the company is optimum. If a company does not have the in-house capacity and still endeavours to put together marketing tactics, the efforts would largely fall flat. Since the agency would be directly responsible for the results, they would remain focused and would keep the company focused on achieving the desired goals. The expertise of such agencies allows a company to look at outsourcing marketing efforts with peace of mind.
Outsourcing marketing efforts to a professional agency brings the element of objectivity. From a company’s standpoint, it would be overly focused on creating hype and would be from the perspective of making a sale, and doing so could compromise on the effectiveness of advertisements or even content – what might sound great for the company may not necessarily be so for the target audience. Outsourcing marketing efforts on the other hand, ensures that the marketing agency would use analytical tools and proper methods to ensure that the campaigns are designed from the customer’s perspective, which would prove a lot more effective.
Given the reasons for outsourcing marketing efforts, if a company does decide to use an agency, it must consider whether it would want to outsource all activities or a few. The broad range of activities in marketing would be search engine optimization, content creation, graphic design, video production, social media management, email marketing, TV advertising, radio advertising, print ads, direct mail, telemarketing, public events, and others. A company would know which of the techniques it would like to use and the agency would be in a better position to identify which options would fit best for the company and the offerings. In addition to understanding which activities to outsource, a company must find the best and ideal marketing agency to handle its marketing efforts. It would be prudent to shortlist a few agencies, check their previous assignments, ask them relevant questions around their specialities and strengths, and the kind of vision and values they would bring. Remember to check references, online reviews, and make a comparison of their price quotation before finalizing any one particular agency. A sound work contract would be necessary too.
A company can use any of the several online resources and marketing agency directories to find the most reputed and established agencies to handle their outsourcing marketing efforts. It is necessary for a company to have KPIs and a fixed budget for the particular marketing project, and ensure that the marketing agency will keep the company updated of progress, glitches, and other relevant information.
On the other side, there are reasons why companies should not look at outsourcing marketing efforts at all. The fact that hiring a professional marketing agency will be costly is certainly a deterrent, and is one of the main reasons that companies hesitate and are reluctant to work with a marketing agency. It would be prudent for a company to weigh the actual cost of outsourcing marketing efforts to an agency with the potential benefits of doing so. If the company has in-house marketing teams and they could handle the project, it would be wiser to use these resources instead. If the in-house team seems unable and ill equipped to handle the magnitude of work and effort needed, then outsourcing marketing efforts would make sense.
The loss of creative control when hiring an external agency is yet another reason that goes against outsourcing marketing efforts. For companies that need a higher level of security and confidentiality, outsourcing anything would never be a good idea. Since the marketing agency would have the creative leeway, the company would need to concede some of autonomy and discretion to the company – meaning some loss of control. If a company has a problem with or would feel unconfident about providing information to a third party, it should just manage the marketing efforts in-house. Additionally, the company may not be able to find the right firm or the firm it hires may not meet its expectations, and the reasons could be many, then outsourcing marketing efforts would be a complete waste. In addition, since an agency would only be working for the money, it would not be as passionate about the business as the company would be. For the agency, a company would be one of many clients, who would need their expertise – professionalism and passion would therefore be missing for any one particular client.
Outsourcing marketing efforts to an outside agency should be thought out well and must be planned meticulously. It is a risk, but if a company prepares a robust plan, it would be a risk worth taking. We do recommend looking at all the reasons – both for and against outsourcing marketing efforts, and only take a step after carefully analysing every aspect.
“Customers are defining themselves less by how many things they own and more by how curate their lives are in terms of possessions and experiences.” – IFS Blog In the dynamic world of business today, nothing seems stable. Even customers, … Continued
“Customers are defining themselves less by how many things they own and more by how curate their lives are in terms of possessions and experiences.” – IFS Blog
In the dynamic world of business today, nothing seems stable. Even customers, who a while back had fewer expectations and limited preferences, have become more demanding and their needs and inclinations change rapidly – with which companies seem unable to keep pace. However, companies have no choice but to increase their capabilities and must adapt to the changing preferences of customers or risk being overtaken by competitors, who might understand the customer’s preferences a lot better. We know that the balance of power has shifted in favour of customers today – they are the ones who determine the success or failure of a company. Without customers, there will be no business – period. Customer service is about keeping to the promises and coming through for customers each time. However, a company can only do all of this when they completely understand and anticipate the needs of customers and deliver beyond what they expect. Amongst the top changing preferences of customers, getting value over the business relationship ranks high.
We have mentioned earlier that before trying to understand customers and meet their needs, it is necessary for a company to segment their customers based on various factors. This ‘breakdown’ is essential for a company to identify the groups of customers within their customer base who would immediately need the products and or services offered by the company. Through understanding which customers a company is targeting, it would be able to serve the customers better and gain a better understanding of the changing preferences of customers. Most companies fail at understanding the changing preferences of customers and forget to leverage the strength of technology to serve their customers better – for example putting together an online store where customers from far away can order, and making provisions for doorstep delivery. Given the role of technology, amongst the changing preferences of customers, are changes in shopping mode and payment processes – understanding these variations will ensure that the company’s customers remain happy and stay with the company for long.
Another sure shot way of understanding the changing preferences of customers is by making time to listen and address their issues and complaints. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”– Bill Gates and if all companies were to understand this they would get a lot better at keeping their customers happy. When customers complain, it means they are making the effort to provide feedback, and are in essence affording the company with an opportunity to get better. Those companies that ignore or negate such ‘feedback’ are essentially closing doors for further business.
Learning and understanding about the changing preferences of customers becomes a lot easier by gathering market intelligence and conducting research. Through a CRM system, companies would be able to collate and store important customer statistics and data, which would prove indispensable in monitoring any changes in customer behaviour and preferences, and allow the company to make corrective action in case there seems to be a drop in buying. The market today has a constant influx of competitors – each one more aggressive and competent than the previous and those companies that cannot keep pace with the changing preferences of customers are sure to be relegated into oblivion. Constantly asking customers whether they are happy with what the company provides and offers, enables a company to improve and strengthen what it does well and rectify what customers determine as a weakness. Customers constantly leave feedback and listening to their comments and words provides a company with insights into what they expect, the kinds of brand they prefer, what makes them feel special, and which aspects of a company delight / annoy them. As part of understanding the changing preferences of customers, it is essential for a company to ensure that their employees treat customers well too and display the company’s values and culture in the overall demeanour. The importance of staying in touch with and ‘speaking’ with customers cannot be underestimated – it is part of the top preferences of customers.
The fact is that without understanding the changing preferences of customers it will not be possible for a company to put together relevant marketing strategies. Without pertinent strategies a company’s chances of yielding good and high results would be grim. With thorough knowledge of customers and their changing preferences a company would be able to formulate the most relevant messages and distribute them through the most viable and relevant channels. The choice of messages and channels is extremely critical since these would determine whether the customers actually receive the messages, and if they do, whether those messages are relevant for them. The messages must resonate with the customers – they should be exciting and engaging. Customers are a sea of knowledge and insights, and companies must use their knowledge to develop their brand and products in a way that they would meet the constantly evolving tastes and preferences of customers.
Through a thorough understanding of the changing preferences of customers, a company would be able to keep their existing customer base happy. We know that it is significantly harder to gain new customers as opposed to retaining the existing ones. When existing customers remain with a company for long, they become loyal over time. Loyal customers translate to numerous repeat sales, testimonials and referrals, all of which prove to be extremely advantageous to a business. Loyal customers buy from a company irrespective of price and other products available in the market – but expect that the company would constantly meet and exceed their expectations. Understanding customers enables a company to understand why a customer would leave or stop buying. The fact is that satisfaction and happiness means different things to different customers, and hence customer satisfaction is a complex subject, which companies have a tough time in articulating and measuring.
Rather than trying to fix a problem only when it occurs, a company must look at proactively eliminating the root causes of the problem and avoid defection. Customers would have their particular preferences, needs, and even idiosyncrasies – and it is the responsibility of a company to keep pace with all the expectations of customers. What companies need to understand is that relying on traditional measures and historical data will not suffice to anticipate future customer issues and needs. A company cannot gain the trust and confidence of customers without innovating, moving forward, and understanding the changing preferences of customers. Companies must consistently collect and analyse customer data, and use it to study current and predict future variations in customer behaviour and profitability.
Paying attention to customers is no longer an option – it is a business necessity. While it may seem like a humongous and onerous task, no company today can survive without making the effort of understanding the changing preferences of customers, and making internal changes to comply with those preferences. While it may be a tall order, the rewards are great. The company’s overall reputation improves, the company receives repeat sales, glowing testimonials and effective referrals. The opinion and verdict of customers holds a great deal of importance today – people are relying constantly on the comments and feedback of their friends, family, and existing users of a company’s products. One negative experience published can drive away hordes of prospective clients. It makes sense therefore for any company today to invest in methods to understand the changing preferences of customers and make the necessary improvements and changes in the company and its processes.
“Don’t find customers for your products find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin We have discussed this before – customers of today have a seemingly endless number of options and choices ranging from the companies in the market to … Continued
“Don’t find customers for your products find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin
We have discussed this before – customers of today have a seemingly endless number of options and choices ranging from the companies in the market to their offerings. Each one is constantly competing with each other vying for the attention for almost the same customers, and the amount of information and choices they send to customers can leave customers confused and ‘paralysed’ from a decision stand point. Customers tend to stop making any buying decisions, which does prove detrimental to companies. To save customers from confusion and increase sales, it would be prudent for companies to help customers choose products by providing complete and unbiased information. After all, if customers choose not to buy, companies would not have a business for too long.
Helping customers choose products has become essential given that the overload of information and choices has become a very real issue – spanning all industries, businesses, and customer types. Companies, it would seem, are now looking into solutions that would enable existing and prospective customers to ‘discover’, select, and decide on the most appropriate and beneficial products for their lives and business. In fact, today helping customers choose products with the least amount of hassle is no longer a choice or an option for companies – there are far too many competitors vying for the same customers and would gladly offer their services in a bid to ‘steal’ customers away. It is essential for companies to realize the negative consequences of information and choice overload on their business, and think of something quickly to help them appear unique and improve the perception that customers have of their company.
We constantly repeat that understanding customers is quintessential to success today. In doing so, a company can consistently and effectively customize the experience users have, which in turn would keep them interested and engaged in the company and its products. The success of companies today is intrinsically associated with their ability of helping customers choose products and solutions relevant to their lives and business. The customer of today seeks ease, convenience, and speed. They prefer that companies offer them with pertinent product choices such that they would not need to sift through a ‘sea’ of options, which may not be appropriate for them at the end of the search. By helping customers choose products, a company would encourage customers to trust the company by displaying their knowledge and commitment towards the customer’s interests. Investing time in making the lives of customers easier will reap rich rewards in terms of increased and repeat business, and over time loyalty and brand advocacy.
One of the best ways to build confidence while helping customers choose products is that a company communicate what its products would have in common with competitors, as also the differences and uniqueness of its own products. Customers should know and feel that they are in control to choose the products that would suit them the best, and companies that remain open and transparent when helping customers choose products have a better chance of attracting and retaining an increasing number of prospective and existing customers. In helping customers choose products, it is imperative to show them the features of the products, and let them exactly why those features are important and how they would benefit the customers. Companies must remember not to assume that customers would understand the features of the products, especially if the features were new in the market. Customers need time to understand any new innovative designs and features, and customers should be afforded the time to evaluate each product individually. In helping customers choose products, companies must encourage customers to avoid comparing products, but rather focus on viewing the benefits and features of each individual product.
Another interesting and engaging way of helping customers choose products is through quizzes and surveys. The questions in these quizzes would encourage customers to think about products based on their style, business, lifestyle, immediate needs, and more. Providing customers with such interesting and engaging ways to choose products would not only make it easier for them to find the ‘best fit’, but also turn them into active buyers sooner, and consistently.
As mentioned, in order to be truly helpful to customers to choose products, the first step would be to assess exactly what they need and like. Today ascertaining customer needs is essential, such that the company can reduce the complexity of the decision-making, guide customers to take the next steps, choose from the most pertinent options available, and keep control in the hands of the customers. The customer dynamics have changed – they do not have the time to go through a wide selection of products that would have potentially confusing features and those that may not suit their needs in any way. Companies could offer digital advice that would be about understand their needs, and providing them with pertinent and manageable number of choices. The advice must not be aimed at getting the customer to buy instantly.
Companies receive customer reviews all the time. By displaying these on the company website and other relevant visible online platforms a company can help prospective customers choose products based on the experiences of current users. By displaying both negative and positive reviews, a company would display honesty and confidence, and would allow prospective customers to explore any potential pitfalls or disadvantages before they actually make a purchase. The reviews from existing customers lend a feeling of security and satisfaction, making it a lot easier for prospective customers to decide. These reviews would be independent of the company’s attempts at marketing and promotion and hence would be a lot more believable and convincing for prospective customers.
As mentioned, customers expect companies to be available when they want, and round the clock digital live chats creates an authentic, real time, and helpful experience for customers since they would be interacting with a real person. IVRs and other digital self-help interactions are robotic and sans the personal touch, and customers are less likely to buy from a company that uses these methods to convey product features. Through online live chats, a company is able to form a connection with customers – greeting the customer would be the first step. In the event that all agents are engaged, a quick auto responder with a message conveying that someone would connect shortly, would work wonders in assuring customers that the company is truly interested in serving them and meeting their needs.
Whether it is helping customers choose products or some other kind of service, it is necessary for a company to maintain a positive and helpful attitude. Serving customers should be of paramount interest for companies – it would instil confidence in customers, keep them engaged, and be always open to taking suggestions from the company. The fact is that customers constantly seek companies that would keep their best interests in mind, and would not hesitate to make their negative experiences with companies, public. The more companies can do to help customers to make their lives easier by helping customers choose products and other such services. The company’s website must never be the only source for any product or information for customers. Customers could easily be confused by the information that other players may have put, and hence it is the job of a company to help customers choose products better than its competitors are. Providing customers with informative and innovative product descriptions and features is necessary in helping customers choose products according to their requirements. Whatever the method and approach a company may use, it would be essential to tailor the brand and the products to the customers. The goal for any company – help customers choose products and make swift and intelligent buying decisions.