Business Technology

Your Customers: Les Miserables?

Your Customers: Les Miserables?

I took my three teenage sons to see Les Miserables last night at the Gammage Center on the ASU campus. I've seen it several times now. Besides being awed by the amazing talent of the actors, I love the story told by Victor Hugo. Man can change and can make a difference (not to mention the fact that Jean Valjean was an entrepreneur that went from 19 years of corporate--sorry I mean jail--life to found a successful bead factory.) But I digress, what got me to thinking was I would have loved to be able to tell the cast how much I enjoyed it. Sure I stood up and clapped, but I would have liked to be able to tell them specifics.

We also had a local election here in Mesa, Arizona yesterday. The two main issues had to do with increasing sales tax and adding a property tax. It got me to thinking about exit polls. BTW, the sales tax measure passed. The property tax measure didn't.

My point--and I apologize for taking so long to get to it--is that there is real value in the concept of an exit poll for customers. The exit poll in the election world is meant to give an early indication of how the election will be decided. It is certainly not always accurate, but it is helpful. Wouldn't you like an early indication of what your customers are thinking before they vote with their feet and never come back?

Not only would you gain useful information so that you could make operational adjustments, it is also one more opportunity to build the relationship with your customer. I noticed in the Les Mis program that several of the actors had their own websites and were promoting their own CDs. What if the production had a website where I could go give feedback and in the process click on links to cast member products, maybe send a message to my friends telling them how much I enjoyed the production, etc.? Now I'm engaged. Based on the final ovation, I think several who attended would go give feedback and take the next step.

So will an exit poll work for your business? Lot's of ways to find out. You could position yourself at the front door of your business and ask customers as they leave how happy they are with the service. Or you could hire an independent firm to send some folks over with clipboards to ask for you--sometimes people will be more honest for a third party though you may lose something in the translation and it will certainly cost you something. Another option is to put technology to work for you (blatant plug coming) and use a tool like PromoterZ to collect feedback, email addresses and referrals online.

Remember two goals for the exit poll: get feedback and build a bridge to a more engaged relationship.

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more

Listen First!

Listen First!

Listening is hard. Let's face it, we are all problem solvers. If we weren't, chances are we wouldn't be in business for ourselves. We don't have a lot of time to spend listening to long stories. So we quickly pick out the "important facts," develop (or should I say jump?) to a conclusion, and move on to the next problem. According to Laurent Flores , the founder and CEO of, crmmetrix not listening enough to customers is exactly what is wrong with most marketing today. Here are his steps to go from marketing to consumers to marketing with consumers:

First: Listen to conversations. Learn from consumers and leverage the words consumers "recognize themselves in": a message is about an idea, and the words that support it best.

Second: Listen and engage the consumers who matter in your category. Leadership is not universal, but category related. Look at natural touch-points with your customers, such as the brand website, to find the influencers who want to engage with their favorite brands.

Third: Test the words. As stated earlier, evolving the message with influencers is key. Indeed, rather than just testing the message idea, test the words consumers will recognize themselves in. Let them have a say with a simple online VIP vote, for example.

Fourth: Seed trials and give them the ability to spread. Engage influencers further in trying and testing your product during an exclusive special VIP invitation. Give them the means to spread the word by making samples and campaign materials available (that they actually developed themselves, remember), and they will drive sales for you.

Fifth: Continue listening and keep involving them. Because markets are conversations, continuous listening to consumers during and after the campaign is key. Listening will not only provide the necessary measurement to better manage WOM, but will also naturally boost consumer engagement and relationship with your brand for your next campaign.

Some really great ideas here. When was the last time you asked your influencers or promoters (you know who they are don't you?) to vote on one of your advertising ideas? Modern technology makes the logistics easy. How about exclusive previews and samples for your promoters? You want them talking? First listen and then give them something to talk about.

Promoterz is the hands-free, word-of-mouth marketing service that takes care of the details so you can focus on business. Learn more

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Came upon an interesting post in the Life Insurance Agent Blog. The title of the entry is The Lie About Leads. Buying and selling leads is big business in the insurance industry. Do a Google search on "Insurance Leads" and you will see what I mean. Just like any other business, finding new customers can be an expensive and time consuming process. Here is a quick primer on lead terminology from the Life Insurance Agent blog:

Cold lead—this is worthless—it’s a name from a mailing list broker. The person may meet certain criteria—e.g., age, income or household value. Above that, it’s just a name, like a name from a phone book.

Warm lead—the person has requested information by completing a card, an Internet form or expressed interest with no coaxing. Your best prospects will always be the ones that take action on their own, with no one convincing, no coaxing, no call from a telemarketer.

Telemarketed lead. This is supposedly a warm lead with interest in meeting—they tell you that the prospect is waiting for your call. I doubt it. Few people have the time and inclination to talk to telemarketers on the phone and sales people.

Set appointment—this can be a very valuable lead but ask how the appointment was made. Did the prospect first call from an ad or direct mail offer and then a telemarketer set an appointment? That’s good because this prospect took the initiative.

I think he makes some great points but may have left off the most important lead of all: a referral from a happy customer. Even the most qualified lead listed above has no clue about you--your honesty, your integrity, your ability to deliver great service. On the other hand, a lead that comes from a happy customer, that lead comes with your customer's reputation attached. That is, your customer likes you enough that they are willing to put their reputation on the line with their friend on behalf of you and your business. Countless surveys have shown that referrals are without a doubt the most powerful influence on just about any purchasing decision.

Does that mean that there is no place for buying leads? No, not at all. Especially when you are getting started. You have to keep your funnel full. What it does mean, is that every lead that you successfully turn into a customer is a golden goose. Your highest priority should be to take care of that goose so that it continues to lay the golden eggs of referrals well into the future.

Think it doesn't work? Tyler Slade of Canyon Lands Insurance, one of our PromoterZ™ customers, gets a 9 or 10 from 95% of his clients when asked how likely it is they would recommend him to a friend. Not surprisingly, he has received referrals from 60% of his clients. It works.

So here is my blatant PromoterZ plug: Apply some modern technology to your client care tools to make sure your geese are being well tended. PromoterZ™ will make sure they are happy, send information to them regularly, send them a birthday greeting, and collect referrals. Check it out: www.promoterz.com. End of blantant plug.

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

The latest newsletter from PromoterZ:

PromoterZ NewZ--May 5, 2006

---------------------------
---------------------------

In this issue:

- Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
- It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
- Increasing Response Rates
- Tell Us What You Think

--------------------------------------------------
Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
--------------------------------------------------

Where can you learn about fishing, gas for $2.55 a gallon, and what they both have to do with growing your business? We've launched a new blog that is focused on discovering and discussing the principles that help businesses grow. Nothing too serious, but hopefully some good tidbits that will generate new ideas and help you with your business. You can check it out at http://www.seedsofgrowth.com. Leave some comments and let us know what you think. We've also changed promoterz.com--see what you think.

--------------------------------------------------
It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
--------------------------------------------------

One of the most valuable benefits of using PromoterZ(TM) is the list of opt-in email addresses that it collects for you. You can use the list to build your relationship with your customers, share information with them, and encourage them to return. The list, however, does no good unless it is used. Remember, these are your customers that want to hear more from you--don't let them down.

One of the beautiful things about email is that it can be current and immediate. (You can read more about that here). As you think about the month of May, here are some ideas for specials:

- NBA playoffs--If your local team is still in the running, let your customers know you are a fan. (Game 7 Special! Go Suns!)

- Mother's Day--Lot's of options here. We can never do too much for our moms.

Those are the "biggies" but there are lot's of others. The best are those that are local and current. Here are a few others to get you thinking:

May 6th-International No Diet Day (my personal favorite)
May 9th-National Teacher Day
May 10th-Clean Up Your Room Day (we are definitely celebrating that in our house)
May 14th-National Dance Like a Chicken Day (huh?)
May 15th-National Chocolate Chip Day (my other favorite)
May 20th-Armed Forces Day

You get the point. Do a web search on May Holidays and then be creative. Also don't forget that you can get an email out in literally 5 minutes. If there is something very current happening, take advantage of it and get the email out. Your customers see countless generic commercials every day. Send them something refreshing and they'll appreciate it.

If you need help with art work or getting your special set up for May, send us an email. We're happy to help.

--------------------------------------------------
Increasing Response Rates
--------------------------------------------------

PromoterZ(TM) is a great tool that can help gather feedback, referrals, and opt-in emails. As we just discussed, it is also very powerful for proactively communicating with your customers. But none of it happens if your customers aren't participating. So how do you get more of your customers to participate? Here are some ideas from your fellow PromoterZ(TM) users:

1) Get personal--if you are handing out an invitation card, make a personal request. Don't just leave them on the counter or shove them in the bag, hand it to them and say "I would love your feedback. Would you mind taking just 60 seconds to let us know how we did?"

2) Be persistent--Tyler Slade of Canyonlands Insurance invites his customers by email. But, he talks to them on the phone before he sends the invite and lets them know it is coming. Then he sends the invite and if he needs to he follows up by phone. His response rate is high and, not surprisingly, so are his feedback scores.

3) Share the feedback--This isn't obvious, but the best way to get your employees excited about asking customers for feedback is to share the feedback with your employees. Chuck Matheny of Sport Clips swears by this. He says his stylists take more pride in the their work and are motivated by the feedback they receive.

4) Reconsider the incentive--If you are not offering an incentive, consider offering one. If you are offering one and your response rate is still not what you would like it to be experiment with other incentives. In general a "Free" offer is more motivating than a discount. Christine switched her Subway stores from $1 off a sandwich to a free cookie with great resutls. Also, and this ties back to number 1, don't forget to offer an incentive to your employees to encourage them to ask for feedback. Run a contest and give movie tickets to the employee that gets the most feedback.

If you have other ideas or questions about improving your response rate, send us an email.

--------------------------------------------------
Tell Us What You Think
--------------------------------------------------

Speaking of feedback, we are always looking for it. If you have ideas or suggestions for improving PromoterZ(TM) we would like to hear about them. Over the next few weeks we will be adding new features based on requests from users like you. If you have ideas, let us know. Here is our feedback link:

http://feedbackworks.com/1327

Also, just like you, we are always looking for referrals. If you would like to send a free month of PromoterZ(TM) to a friend or colleague please use this link:

http://promoterz.com/app/referrals/1327

That is it. Thanks for reading and thanks for your business!

Happy No Diet Day!

Dave Free
President
PromoterZ

The growth of your business will be determined by what your customers say about it. Do you know what they are saying? Learn more

Gas $2.55 a Gallon!

Gas $2.55 a Gallon!

That's right, you can still buy gas for $2.55 a gallon. Only drawback? You have to drive to Evanston, Wyoming to get it. Nothing against Evanston, I've been through there several times. Problem is that it is a long way from most places people live. Why is gas so cheap there? There appear to be two reasons. First, Wyoming fuel levies are the cheapest in the country and second a family of entrepreneurs by the name of Call.

Ruel Call started in 1937 with a small gas station and then in 1960 launched his own gasoline brand, Maverik, which now has about 175 stations. They helped pioneer self-service pumps and gas station convenience stores. In the mid sixties O. Jay Call launched another discount fuel retailer called Flying J. It did $7.3 billion in sales last year at 160 truck stops.

In 2003, Kristen Call, 36, a daughter of one of the Maverick Calls decided she could apply internet technology to cut more costs and keep prices even lower. The concept: pay for your gas online or at an unmanned kiosk at an unmanned station. The company is called iFuel.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, iFuel didn't stay open long. It opened in Evanston offering fuel at 10 cents per gallon less than Maverick, but it didn't catch on with the locals. Many weren't on the internet yet and seemed confused by the concept. In addition iFuel used indoor key pads for their kiosks but didn't install them indoors. Ever been to Evanston in the winter? The key pads froze up and wouldn't work. Kristen is now focused on selling the internet payment software to big box chains with gas pumps.

So what is the take away? First, let's hear it for entrepreneurs! Want a real solution to gas prices? Turn a bunch of entrepreneurs loose on the problem--not congress.

Second, timing may be everything on a concept like this. I could be wrong, but I think if a chain of gas stations offered a 5 to 10 cent discount on pre-paid fuel purchased online they could do very well. Where do I join?

Syndicate content

Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

Blogroll