Category: Client Retention

Decoding WOM Messages

Today’s lesson will talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and how you can influence those messages.

There are essentially 3 methods of word of mouth:

  • Expert to Expert
  • Expert to Peer
  • Peer to Peer

When experts are talking about your products or service you will usually receive an amazing rush of sales and new customers, so obviously this is one of the best things that can happen. You can also help to facilitate this by offering free products to experts for them to review.

Expert opinion can also bring about new ideas that help to fuel new products, services and operating systems within your company. If you take the time to change or develop the opinions of even a small group of experts, you will have the opportunity to help your market explode.

There is a standard word of mouth delivery system that, in most cases, takes a few years. But, you can speed this up into only a few weeks. The standard system is:

  • First impressions from an expert
  • Organized trial of your products or services
  • Pooling peer experiences

It’s important to know exactly who is advocating for your products and service. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. While, you may already have a customer service system for filing complaints, do you have one for compiling praise? Most likely not. If you take the time to show these people appreciation, they will help take your products and services to the top.

  • Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:
  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to video tape their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback to improve with
  • Offer them a premier customer membership
  • Ask them to join a referral incentive program

There are lots of things you can offer your biggest fans to help spread the word about your products and services.

Conventional media has been around forever and while it can still be effective, it’s lost a little of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • Boring, lacking something fresh and new
  • Too short of a time slot to offer enough information

While these are all true, there are ways you can make conventional media work for you. For the information to be effective it needs to be presented in the right sequence, come from the right sources, be relevant to the target customer, be credible and be delivered at the right time in the medium.

We’re going to switch gears a little and talk about the two phases of the product adoption cycle. Traditional media is great for taking you through the information stage where you can offer the information you need to your potential customers, but it’s not so great for measuring the results of those efforts.

Without these results you can’t fine tune your marketing and therefore can easily miss the boat and lose potential customers and waste a whole lot of money. Once a consumer has the information they need, they’ll go through a verification process as they analyze whether or not the purchase was a good one. They generally get their information through:

  • Direct experience with the product
  • Interaction with peers using the same product
  • Experts’ experience
  • Scientific journals and other resources
  • Independent reviews and opinions
  • You can accelerate this process by:
  • Providing your own demo’s and free trials
  • Offer them indirect experience through the experience of others
  • Offer a good true story that can be passed around

Once you have the ability and are able to work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much better. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

WOM Meets Customers Head-On

Today we’ll cover the idea of shortening your customers’ decision making process with positive word of mouth. There are essentially 5 stages in the decision making process.

They are:

  1. Give the product a chance and transitions from a “no” to a “maybe”.
  2. Check out the options and investigate the different products available.
  3. Observe the product to check for potential benefits, features and operations to see if there is a fit with their needs.
  4. Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be discriminate with their first product as they form their opinion of you.
  5. Purchases again and starts spreading positive word of mouth as an advocate of your products.

So, let’s take a closer look at each one of these.

From “No” to “Maybe”

This stage is really important because if your potential customers don’t even take a second look at your products and services, then you have no chance of sealing a deal. This is why you need to offer credible information and well thought out pricing, guarantees, and incentives.

Investigating Your Products

At this stage they are taking a closer look at your product line to see if there is actually anything that could benefit their life. This is where you need to make sure your hard information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare.

Trial Period

Customers often feel more at ease and ready to purchase when there is some sort of a trial in place. They usually want to try vicariously through someone else, so they don’t feel any risk involved. A good way to offer this is through demo videos, product demonstrations, or a tour of your facilities. This stage may invoke a reaction of “I tried it and liked it. You should check it out.”

Make a Purchase

At this stage, they have taken the risk of purchasing one of your products or services and are now evaluating how easy, convenient, cost-effective, and satisfying your product or service is. At this stage a common reaction would be, “It was really easy to use and learn from. It’s really great, you should get it!”

Advocates for Yours Products

At this last stage of decision-making the customer is immensely pleased with your product and often keeps using it and/or comes back for more products and services. They are likely telling everyone they know how much they like it, that they use it every day, and have already (or will be) back to your establishment for more.

We talked a minute ago about the different types of purchasers. Now we are going to take a closer look at their characteristics, so you can figure out which tactics are best to use at the right stage of the decision-making process.

The Innovator

  • Wants to stand out from the crowd
  • Knows what’s hot and trendy
  • Likes “strange” or “weird” new products
  • Wants to be the first to try and will talk about it animatedly

Early Adopter

  • Driven by excellence
  • More concerned with possibilities than realities
  • Always looking to be a leader
  • Always looking for a new vision

Middle Majority

  • Wants to be perceived as competent
  • Concerned about practicality and easy comparisons
  • Needs an easy way out if not satisfied
  • Wants products that meet the industry standard

Late Majority

  • Generally skeptical and wants to know the risks upfront
  • Needs to shop around for the best deal
  • Needs a support system
  • Wants what everyone else has

Laggard

  • Needs it to be completely safe and traditional
  • Needs reassurance that nothing will go wrong
  • Won’t try new things unless it’s the last resort
  • Will search for loopholes and problems
  • Wants to use it in the standard industry way

As you can see, each type of consumer wants something just a little different depending on their personality type. The key to successful word of mouth is to target and cater to each type of consumer. If you need help identifying the types of consumers you are currently helping and how to attract the types you are lacking, try our GUIDED TOUR for the resources and tools you need to get the job done.

Next time we’ll talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and what you can do to help facilitate that.

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 of Mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking, and all the other online mediums available it’s 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:
  1. Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase
  2. Increase your number of customers
  3. 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 experience in their purchasing that is making their decision time long, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with us 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 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 by 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 FREE test drive 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
  • Call for Back-Up.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 2

In the last post we covered the first two of the 5 biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and highly quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind the scenes operations to get those things done.

  • Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:
  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

There a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill promises you made to your clients.

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. Always have a back-up plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. In order to stay in the game you need to diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do.

  • These things include:
  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. This can generally be measures in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try our GUIDED TOUR to get the help you need fast.

Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 1

There are 5 big mistakes you can do that will kill a deal with a big fish. They are:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle

Any one or combination of these can not only kill the partnership, but have the ability to take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.

Not Meeting Client’s Expectations

It’s essential you give your client’s exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong.

A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.

In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:

  • Think before you speak.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Perfect your process.
  • Pre-format over-deliverables.
  • Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.
  • Define success.

Mishandling a Client Crisis

Crisis’ will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients’. You need to respond quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.

Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:

  • Take responsibility and apologize no matter who is at fault.
  • Act swiftly and effectively.
  • Step in and take control of the situation.
  • Never point fingers or place blame.
  • Stay in constant communication with your client.
  • Stay calm throughout the situation.
  • Keep your eye on the ball.

Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big fish deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and know how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis.

If you need help with any of this, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you could ever need.

Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistake you can make in working with big fish clients.

Deliver + 1

In the last post we talked about how to figure out what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience. Today we’ll talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this post so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.

Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Avoid offering too many customer service options.

We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.

You need to fine tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to consistent of the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

Good training is the key.

Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. While, train is essential for the system to work and for all your people to work together cohesively, appreciation will go a long way.

I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, try our FREE test drive and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and coaching.