Category: Client Retention

Harness the Power of WOM

Today we’re going to talk about how to harness the power of word of mouth. Including the six step process to success and the 30 (that’s right, I said 30) ways to harass the power of WOM. So, let’s get started!

There are six steps to harassing word of mouth:

  1. Understand your customers’ values and priorities, this will help you understand why they would buy your products.
  2. Understand the different adopter types: innovators, early adopters, middle majority, late adopters and laggards.
  3. Identify which decision stages are needed for your product to be adopted.
  4. Use the information from steps 2 & 3 to figure out which wording and word of mouth tactics are going to work using the Decision Maker Matrix (we’ll talk about this in a minute).
  5. Put together the resources for the highest word of mouth impact.
  6. Create and implement your word of mouth campaign.

The Decision Maker Matrix is based off years of trial and error by George Silverman. It essentially charts to different concerns you may come across when working with different adopters and putting together a decision process for each one.

We are now going to move on to the 30 ways to harass the power of WOM:

Use Experts

Experts can come in many forms and all their opinions should be taken into consideration when putting together a WOM campaign. Some experts to gather information from include:

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Experts
  • Salespeople
  • Experts’ roundtables
  • Experts’ selling groups

Seminars, Workshops & Speeches

These venues are a perfect opportunity to gather information. People who attend these types of events are used to giving feedback, so you can use a survey or other method to gather information you can look over later. Some events to use are:

  • Speakers program
  • Seminars
  • Group selling
  • Dinner meetings
  • Peer selling groups
  • Teleconferenced experts’ panels
  • Trade show events/opportunities

“Canned” Word of Mouth

The concept of “canned” word of mouth is using hard and online products to get feedback and offer information at the same time. Some ideas for these are:

  • Videotapes
  • Audiotapes
  • World Wide Web
  • CD’s

Referral Selling

As we’ve talked about before a referral program can help with a variety of things in building your business. By using some of the following tactics and opportunities you can find out exactly what you need to do to generate positive word of mouth. These tactics and opportunities are:

  • Testimonials
  • Networking
  • Referral Selling Program

“New” Media

The concept of “new” media is the use of up and coming media sources and opportunities to get the word out about your products and services and listen for the feedback about them. Here’s some of the “new” media options:

  • Hotlines
  • Faxback services
  • Web-based word of mouth, such as forums, e-mail, etc.
  • Call centers

Using Traditional Media for Word of Mouth

Using traditional media is a great way to get feedback. These are still considered main stream ways of interacting with the public and consumers. Some traditional media outlets are:

  • Customer service
  • PR
  • Placements
  • Events
  • Promotions
  • Word of mouth in ads, sales brochures, or direct mail
  • Salesperson programs, sales stars, or peer training,
  • Word-of-mouth incentive programs (“Tell-a-friend” programs)
  • Customer gifts they can share with their friends (articles, how-to manuals)

Internal Word of Mouth

  • Encourage employee word of mouth and sharing feedback with family, friends and others
  • Offer rewards or commission for word of mouth success

As you can see there are tons of ideas you can work with to increase your level of positive word of mouth marketing. If you need help with any of this, please try our GUIDED TOUR to access our exclusive resources that can help you put this whole thing together.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 3

Last time we talked about the second part of word of mouth tactics which help you put together a system to help shorten the purchasing decision time of your customers which can increase your profits immensely.

Today we’re going to talk about the nine levels of word of mouth which gives you a tool to measure the word of mouth circulating around your company, products and services. You can then see where you are getting negative or weak word of mouth and find ways to correct it.

So, launching into the nine levels of word of mouth-it should seem relatively obvious that the negative levels are, well, negative and the positive levels are positive.

Minus 4

This is the worst of the worst and means your product is creating a scandal. Remember, when the popular over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol, were deemed unsafe? Yea, you won’t want that kind of word of mouth.

Minus 3

Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you.

Minus 2

While, not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you they will give a negative response.

Minus 1

At this level, people are mildly dissatisfied and while not outwardly talking about it, they will have an opinion if asked. Now they may purchase from you despite their negative feelings, this can be a little confusing.

Level 0

This is sort of a neutral place to be. Customers are using your products, but don’t really talk about it. People rarely ask them about it, so they aren’t sharing their opinion with others. This can be a bit of a slippery slope, because you don’t want to turn that neutral experience into a negative one. In fact, you should work to make it a positive one.

Plus 1

At this level we are finally starting to work our way into the positive word of mouth about you company, products and services. Plus 1 signifies that people are generally pleased with your products, but unless asked, don’t really say anything about them.

Plus 2

When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products.

Plus 3

Customers will go out of their way to talk about your products, services, company and their shopping experience with you. This is most evident when you see how people recommend movies to their friends and family.

Plus 4

Your product is the toast of the town. There is an obvious buzz going around and your business is the place to be. People are not only talking about your great products and services, but they are talking about their shopping experience, your customer service and how they perceive the company to help them in the future.

Some great examples of Plus 4 companies are:

  • Lexus
  • Harley Davidson
  • Saturn Cars
  • Netscape
  • Apple Computers
  • Celestial Teas

We’re going to leave this lesson for you to mull over and take a look at what kind of word of mouth you are generating. If you need help with this process, try our GUIDED TOUR to get help from our experienced business coaches.

Next time we’re going to talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 1

Today we’ll start a new series talking all about Word of Mouth and how it can make or break your business in an extremely short amount of time. In this first lesson we’ll get a feel for what exactly word of mouth is.

Word of Mouth is easily the most powerful form of marketing and is absolutely free. People talk about ads they see, experiences they have and the products they purchase. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services in a positive way, you’ll attract the right customers and client who will sustain your business for a long time.

Now, as positive as word of mouth can be for your business, the other side of the coin is how negative it can be as well. Bad news seems invariably to travel faster than good news and if you have a less than high-quality product or weak customer service system, then your customers will tell everyone they know to not buy your products and services.

The age of technology has proved to be an amazing benefit in the world of word on mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking and all the other online mediums available and making it easier and easier for consumers to share their experiences. And, remember this is all free advertising for you.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the importance of shortening the customer decision cycle to help customers/client choose more quickly and easily. There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle. They are:

Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase

Increase your number of customers

Increase frequency of purchases

Let’s take a deeper look at decision speed. Offer simplicity, ease and a fun purchasing atmosphere and you’ll help your customers make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this happens your customers will buy more frequently, spend more money than usual, refer friends and make the decision to purchase more quickly. This can raise your market share by over 100 times.

The time it takes your customer to decide and purchase far outweighs any other component of marketing. When you focus on customer decision speed it forces you to take a hard look at your company and brand image, positioning, value, customer service, guarantees and product quality.

The next area I want to talk about quickly is how to minimize the friction, or stress, involved with decision making. No matter how easily people find decision making there is a certain amount of anxiety we all experience when making a purchase, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help to minimize this emotional response, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.

There are a few secrets to accelerate the customers decision making progress:

Your benefits, features, claims and promises must be obvious, clear and concise.

The information you offer must be complete, easy to understand, credible and balanced.

Use comparisons that show a marked difference.

Your guarantees must be rock solid and more than the customer expects.

Make trial periods easy.

You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.

Testimonials need to be relevant and positive.

Your support, delivery and other operational systems must be perfect.

Your website can be as good as you make it. You can offer more than information, you can offer an experience that guides your customers gently through the decision making process to make it easy for them to buy. Take it a step beyond by offering toll-free support numbers, software downloads to help with the process or other classy and informative ways to reassure your customers that you are there with them every step of the way and have nothing to hide.

This wraps up the first post in our series on word of mouth. If you need help identifying your target market and the issues they are experience in their purchasing experience that is making their decision time long, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our coaches to come up with the best way to smooth out your purchasing experience.

Next time we’ll move forward with word of mouth and talk about the power of word of mouth and what exactly this powerful tool is and can be used for.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 3

Over the last few posts we talked about how to multiply the resources that you’ve worked hard to maximize. So far we’ve covered:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients
  4. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  5. Open Water Fishing
  6. Call for Back-Up

Today we’ll cover the next three:

  1. Go Big Online
  2. Bartering with the Best
  3. Give Away the Farm

Go Big Online

There are businesses who solely operate online, there are those with only physical addresses and there are those who do both. Those who do both are by far more successful than the previous two. When you take the time to establish an online presence you open up your business to the entire world, through a few clicks of the mouse.

To successfully sell products online, you need to:

  1. Offer high-quality products/services that people want.
  2. Build an attractive, effective website that’s user-friendly.
  3. Generate high-quality traffic at a low cost.
  4. With all of these things in place you can find success with you online exposure.

Bartering with the Best

If you’ve ever gone to a yard sale and paid the sticker price, then you need to up your bartering game. Everything is negotiable and you need to take the time to barter with your suppliers. Companies are always open to bartering and when all is said and done you could find yourself saving significantly on the things your business needs to operate smoothly.

Give Away the Farm

Ok, so not literally, but you have to be willing to stay in contact with prospective clients and offer them products and services they are going to need. You don’t know what they need until you offer them everything you’ve got then work with them to put together the perfect package the fit their needs.

When you take the time to put yourself at the front of their minds, they are more likely to work with you going forward. You can do this by offering free newsletters, a free consulting session or other valuable tool.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying on the resources you’ve maximized. If you’re not sure where to start or are feeling a bit overwhelmed, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches who can help you navigate these peaceful waters.

Next time we’ll finish up this series with the last three ways to multiply your maximized resources. We’ll cover:

  1. Finding Your Pot of Gold
  2. Stay at the Top of Your Game
  3. Wealth from the Inside Out

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about how to start multiplying on the resources you worked on maximizing. We covered the following areas:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Today we’ll talk about the next three:

  1. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  2. Open Water Fishing
  3. Call for Back-Up

Olympic-Size Sales Staff

Now we all know you can’t have a sales staff of 10,000 who work around the clock for free, but there is a tool that will do exactly that-direct mail marketing.

Direct mail is a written piece of sales and informative copy that offers information about your company and your products/services to potential customers/clients. You can sales letters, brochures or proposals that can be mailed out to a list of leads.

This approach can not only open your door to thousands of new customers/clients, it can save you thousands of dollars in advertising.

Open Water Fishing

You have to be careful not to waste your time on clients who are simply not interested. You have to focus on bigger fish. Remember, the lessons we talked previously about how you should always be targeting higher-quality prospects.

To do this you have to take the time to research and learn about your potential clients to make sure you are targeting the right companies to work with. Make sure they are companies who will benefit from your products/services over a long period of time.

If you’re not sure where to start in finding big fish clients, go back over our previous lessons or look into purchasing a direct mailing list that specifically targets the clients you need. You can purchase or rent lists with name, title, job specs and contact information. This gives you a jumping off point in finding high-quality clients.

Call for Back-Up

Don’t be afraid of telemarketing. It’s a powerful tool than can be done tastefully and be highly effective. However, keep in mind, when not handled correctly can bring about negative reactions. To be successful with telemarketing you need to use these tips:

  1. Your first line of defense should be mail marketing.
  2. Test before you start a telemarketing campaign.
  3. Set the price for your offer.
  4. Use a progressive approach with your campaign.

Progressive contact helps build trust and allow the potential customer/client to establish a positive relationship with you. These are the progressive steps you should take:

  1. Put your prospect at ease.
  2. Present your offer in a natural, conversational way.
  3. Avoid being argumentative or pushy.
  4. Always be honest.
  5. Perfect your 30-second elevator speech.
  6. Clearly state your name, business name, reason you’re calling and where you got their information.
  7. Offer the benefits of your products and services.
  8. Mention one of the features that back up the benefits.
  9. Ask preliminary questions that gives you information about the prospect.

These step-by-step methods can help you be successful with a telemarketing campaign and avoid a negative response which could stigmatize your business forever.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying your resources. We’ll continue with this series for the next two posts to give you all the resources you need to get the most out of your current resources.

If you need help working through any of these processes or areas, try our GUIDED TOUR to get access to our wealth of resources and tools.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 1

The next series of posts will cover how to take maximizing resources and multiply them for even bigger results.

In this first of the four part series we’ll cover:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Call in the Troops

Finding and securing new clients can be exhausting and expensive. Instead work with other companies to help you find new clients. Find solid companies with secure, positive relationships with their customers/clients. Also, ensure that their products/services are not directly competitive with yours.

Contact prospective partner companies and talk with them about helping promote your products/services to their clients. Always offer them a commission on the sales that come from their client lists.

Make sure to include these key points in your proposal:

  • Ensure that your products/services don’t compete with theirs.
  • The partnership will not take away from their current or future sales.
  • The partnership will increase their profits.
  • They won’t have to do nor spend anything on the partnership.
  • You will produce all needed marketing materials.
  • You will offer an unconditional guarantee on all products/services.

Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork

If you take the time to put together a solid referral system you’ll draw new customers/clients out of the woodwork through everyone you already know. You can start doing this through first showing all your current clients how much you care about them.

Then show them how your products/services can significantly improve their lives or businesses. If you can do this consistently, they will naturally and comfortably bring new clients right to you.

Black Sheep Clients

One of the best ways to rejuvenate business is to find your stray clients and offer them something amazing. First you need to understand why they strayed and are no longer purchasing from you. There are generally three reasons why customers/clients leave. They are:

  1. Unrelated causes that have nothing to do with you
  2. A problem with their last purchase
  3. No longer benefit from your products/services

The best way to bring these clients back is to simply contact them. If you don’t make the first move, they’ll never come back. You make an appointment to visit them or call them if it’s not possible to meet in person.

Talk openly with your stray clients. Let them know you noticed they were no longer working with you and that you’d like to talk with them about their experiences with you and how you can improve things to work together again. Take the time to make them feel special and work hard to make sure their experiences with you going forward are the best ever.

This wraps up the first three areas on how to multiply your maximized resources. If you need help working on any of these ideas or processes, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with an experienced business coach.

Next time we’ll talk about the next three areas of multiplying your resources. They include: Olympic-Size Sales Staff, Open Sea Fishing and Call for Back-Up.

The Perfect Bait

In the last post we talked about how to learn about your big fish and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them. This first contact is essential to your success. You need to instill confidence in them. They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price and at the quality you promise.

Today we’ll actually go through the big approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to choose with big fish you’re going after. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Position Your Business
  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Select the Best Target

Position Your Business

You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, id and list your operational procedures, where your fish is initially positioned, your big-customer research, and putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be big fish in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best fish to start with. You need to consider a couple of things:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s real need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean and concise.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and hopefully a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with a coach and have access to a wealth of great resources and tools.

Are You In The 1%

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this you must have your consistency perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a huge increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at one or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!

While, rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you’ve learned a lot out good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons try our GUIDED TOUR and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.

In upcoming posts we’re going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.

Another Secret Revealed

In the last post we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.

Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are and you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a working class man in his 50’s.

There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:

  • Listen to Your Customers
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Ignore Them

These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if you customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should!

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service, they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Ignore Them

You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality you can’t give them everything and someone people you will never make happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.

These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.

If you get stuck, try our GUIDED TOUR and let us help you through the process.

Shhh… I Have a Secret

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers.

Which these thoughts in mind you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

Now, that you know what you want you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.