A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

Got this from one of our Promoterz customers (thanks Mark). I apologize for the low quality on the picture, but what you would see if you could see it, is a guy in Subway attire handing a Subway sandwich to a guy dressed up as a Quiznos cup. In addition to the free lunch, the Subway guy handed the Quiznos guy a job application. Turns out the Quiznos cup guy would prefer to make sandwiches at Subway than a fool of himself at Quiznos so he's now working for Subway. Not sure how the picture got taken or the story made it into the paper, but I imagine the Subway guy had something to do with it.

Kudos to the Subway guy. When his competition sent "the cup" over to his end of the parking lot he didn't make irate phone calls to the competition or his lawyer, he took the guy a sandwich and turned it into a news event. Brilliant.

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

To Save or Not to Save?

To Save or Not to Save?

I was talking with a friend recently that works the customer service phones for the company she is with. She mentioned that her company expects her to solve any customer's problem in three minutes or less. That sounds like a policy created by someone trying to save a few bucks while thousands of potential sales walk down the street to the nearest competitor. She did mention, however, that earlier that day she had taken a call from a customer that was a personal friend of the founder. After running into several brick walls with the fulfillment department she mentioned the issue to her manager and was told, "Do whatever it takes. Just make that customer happy." Apparently the policy at this particular company is "3 minutes for customers. Whatever it takes for friends of the boss."

As wrong as that policy may be, at some level every company probably needs to come up with some criteria for deciding which customers are worth saving and, more importantly, ensure that the best customers get all the attention they need. But how do you decide who the best customers are?

The chart that accompanies this post was taken from a recent article in the alumni magazine from my graduate school. The article provides some great suggestions for setting your criteria. You can read it here.

One word of caution: as you try to determine who your most profitable customers are don't limit the analysis only to past purchases. A customer who buys little from you but tells hundreds of friends can mean much more to your bottom line than a customer that spends a lot but never tells another soul. That pauper may actually be a prince!

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

One More Chapter in a Great Story

One More Chapter in a Great Story

About six months ago I wrote about a small, bricks and mortar business that had successfully implemented and was enjoying the fruits of an online system that increased word-of-mouth marketing for their business. You can read the original post here. In a nutshell, the business is a haircut salon for men--a Sportclips franchise to be exact. The owners, Chuck and Joan Matheny, were using Promoterz to 1) Collect feedback from their customers, 2) Establish an "opt-in" email relationship through which they could communicate directly with their customers, and 3) Give their customers an easy way to tell their friends about their store. Top line result: more than a 20% increase in revenue.

Here is a new chapter in their saga:

Corporate SportClips introduced and has been encouraging franchisees to promote a "Season Ticket" concept. Customers willing to pay for six haircuts in advance get a free upgrade to MVP service on each of those haircuts (MVP includes a hot towel and shoulder massage among other things). Because several hundred of the Matheny's customers have asked to receive updates about the store by email, promoting the Season Ticket with an email seemed like a natural. Think about the value of Chuck's email list: because he had reached out to his customers and provided a way for them to opt-in, he could now communicate with those that wanted to hear from him directly and at absolutely no cost. He didn't have to wait for them to come into the store or pay for an expensive ad.

Rather than just encouraging the customers to come in to a store and ask for a Season Pass, we decided to put the technology to the test and offer the customers a quick and simple way to buy the card directly online. The email included a "one-click" buy button. Customers could opt to have the card mailed to them or come into the store and pick it up. The test has been a great success. Several customers have purchased online and the orders continue to come in. Cha-ching! A new online revenue stream for a bricks and mortar business.

Small test--significant implications. Here is a small "old industry/bricks and mortar" business that has figured out a way to use the internet--not as a glorified yellow-pages ad, but as a tool to generate new revenue streams, increase repeat customer visits and collect new leads--all of which have a direct impact on the top and bottom lines.

The real "no-brainer?" The Matheny's used Promoterz to do all of this. The cost: $50 per month per store.

You work hard to make sure your customers are happy. Don't waste happy customers. How easy is it for your customers to share with their friends? Learn more

Self-Multiplying Customers!

Self-Multiplying Customers!

I received a newsletter today from the folks at Nova Mind. Nova Mind makes a great mindmapping application that I use quite a bit. They also have a project management package for the Mac that looks good. I have yet to give it a try. Anyway, one of the lines in their newsletter caught my attention:

We often find that there is a single license sold in a particular place, and then within a couple of weeks there is a huge cluster of licenses sold within that same area, and we would like to thank all of you who think of your friends and associates now and recommend NovaMind to them.

What a beautiful thing! Isn't that what we all want? Self-multiplying customers! Nova Mind has some great products. They work well and have a significant impact on your productivity. It is hard not to talk about them (ask Joe and Dan how many mindmaps they have seen from me).

As we all know, in today's chaotic marketplace new customers are hard to get. Once you get them, it makes a whole lot of sense to not only keep them, but keep them so happy they multiply.

Need some help? See our sponsor Promoterz

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

Complaints Happen

Complaints Happen

If you are in the service business--for that matter if you are in any business--no matter how hard you try to be perfect, sooner or later a customer is not going to be pleased with the service they receive. The inevitability of it shouldn't discourage you from trying to be perfect, but when a mistake happens the recovery should become job #1.

That dissatisfied customers tell their friends is a fact. How many they tell on average varies depending on the study referenced but it is somewhere between 4 and 10. One study notes that those they tell are 5 times less likely to come to your business than the original dissatisfied customer. Ouch.

But there is hope. According to Restaurant Hospitality "Rule-of-thumb numbers show that roughly 60 percent of complaining customers will eat at your restaurant again if you resolve their service issue, and almost all customers (96 percent in some studies) will come back if you solve their problem to their satisfaction and do so quickly."

What is the best way to resolve issues? Hospitality cites a study called “An Examination of Guest Complaints and Complaint Communication Channels: The Medium Does Matter!” out of Cornell University School of Hotel Management. It concludes that nearly fifty percent of unhappy guests want to talk to the boss. Free drinks and comp meals are nice, but what they really want is to let the boss know.

So how easy do you make it for your customers to let you know about the service? You can't always be in your business. Do you make it easy for them to contact you? You might be surprised what you learn and you will certainly have the opportunity to "save" good customers.

Plug from our sponsor: The Promoterz system is one easy way to make sure customers always have a direct link to you and you have a direct and convenient way to respond to them. The system invites every customer to provide feedback online and immediately notifies you and your managers of feedback as it is received.

The Happiest customers tell on average 8 other people. Who are your happiest customers? Promoterz knows. Learn more

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.
Chris Anderson's recent book, The Long Tail, has gotten a lot of press over the last few months. His main premise is that with modern technology it is now financially feasible, and even rewarding, to ...more.
Imagine that your local grocery store just implemented some new policies. Here they are: We don't want just anyone coming into our store so we are going to make all of our customers get a photo ...more.
For those few of you out there that don't like tomatoes you know what I'm talking about. "Why don't you try this fresh one from the garden? They are so good!" But the result is always the same, once ...more.
Yesterday my bill from Cingular arrived. Two months earlier I had added my daughters phone to our family plan. For the first month a new phone gets free, unlimited text messaging which allows you to ...more.
Did a little substitute teaching this morning at a local high school ( Go Toros! ) Think you are a good presenter? Go volunteer at your local high school. If they're not interested, they don't even ...more.
Quick, how many words can you come up with to describe this photo? If you said pool, child, kid, water, goggles or blue you and I would have just made 100 points at one of Googles latest projects. ...more.
So this morning I was scheduled to give a presentation on how to create word-of-mouth using Promoterz to new Entrees Made Easy franchise owners. While the participants were on break ...more.
A couple of great blogs highlighted Promoterz this week (and yes, we thought they were great before they mentioned us--now we think they are even greater). Steve Rucinski at Small Business CEO , p ...more.
Received a little red book in the mail from Target today. It was a flipbook full of coupons. Once I showed my two young children (3 and 5) they had lot's of fun with it. Will we use the coupons? H ...more.