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Customer Service

Covid-19 and our changing habits

Insights from those nearest and dearest to you, often ring home with a certain resonance. The daily chat with my Mum, she was telling me about one of her friends who called her today. They were chatting about the local small shops at the top of the road. Pam (friend) said her son reported the Butcher was saying he hopes to keep some of the business he’s recently gained. My mum went on to tells the mixed stories about the previous service she had from the said butcher.

Of course, customers gained through this experience of lockdown and resorting to local businesses need the experience to exceed their expectations continually. Ask any hardnosed salesperson they will take about under-promising and over-delivering to maintain an edge with a customer. 

Of course, knowing your customers is the key here. Building the relationship is absolutely key, however gaining the information can be the challenge. Developing your offering is important to gaining knowledge of your customers. I’ve met many a serious salesperson who kept a card index with key bullet point notes about when and where of their key customers. Knowledge is power, especially about tailoring the sales offer.

So how do we implement tools to help us gain more knowledge about customers. 

The classic one for customer knowledge acquisition is the loyalty card, Championed by Tesco’s with Club Card, and the likes of Nectar and to the contemporary likes of Screwfix and their use of customer profiles. They build the knowledge bank on each customer and offer offers and experiences relevant to them. One of the crux behind these are regular communications, whilst yes electronic tools work within this portfolio, use of selective physical mailers as the mix and change of communication methods keeps the response levels fresh.

However, you engage and build a relationship with a customer it’s worth remembering you don’t have a one-track relationship with your friends. Using a mix of methods will provide you with a rich source of nuggets of conversation pieces, which show you care and value them.  

A bit about the author…Stuart is Operations Director for HAD-PRINT, passionate about customer service and meaningful marketing, dabbles with various marketing tools and ideas, and likes to integrate them into a meaningful progression for us and our customers.

Customers: Perpetual continuity

After many conversations with some of our marketing friends, almost every time their first port of call is the question around existing customers. Something which many businesses can easily miss a focus on keeping existing customers engaged. So much attention is focussed on new business, that once a customer has been gained, they almost go by the wayside.

Customer retention or loyalty as it’s called by some is a progressive art form. However, the crux behind it is communication, remember communication is two ways. The art of listening will always provide insights, that sometimes you don’t want to hear, however, the deliverer of feedback might be looking for the right signals to open up. 

The culture of your business or organisation is so critical to building the persona which enables growth and retention. This culture and personality are at the heart of your brand, it’s worth remembering that a brand just isn’t your logo, visuals, font and straplines. A brand is so much more than this, personality and how you engage, through voice, actions and tone. This is linked to non-verbal communication and even starts to touch on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), which is the science of your actions and how they influence your audience.

So where do you start? We are all at a point where we will need to build, further engage, reinforce our message and sell ourselves in the best light. Here are our top tools which help communications on your customer journey

  • Ensure that you use small tools such as review cards, which have an open language which allows constructive feedback. A simple card which can be inserted in with an order of products, or with the bill if you’re a restaurant. These also come in useful when you have low days, looking back and reflecting on what you have achieved.
  • Ensure you use multiple channels to communicate with, remember Visual Auditory kinaesthetic learning styles which people take on things in different ways. So a good mix of digital, physical and face to face marketing. Linking these tools is essential to provide the best longevity and take up.
  • Have a communications plan, be regular, utilise social media, do physical items which add value. Using a varied mix of communications will reap rewards as customers will remember the one, some or all of your communications.

Where can we help you? If you don’t have a plan, we can point you in the right direction of skilled practitioners who can help you formulate a plan. If you need to find ways of understanding how you engage, we can advise you on some good reading on understanding people. If you need specialised support with NLP, we can recommend a few people. If you need to enhance your brand position, again we know the right people to unpack your brand messages. As a print and graphic solution provider, we can help you develop physical resources to engage and develop a relationship, at whatever level you need.

If you are reading this during the Covid-19 lockdown, now is a great opportunity to start planning for the future. Yes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So why not start your planning, we’ll happily do Facetime, Google Hangouts / Google Meet, conference calls whatever you want to help you formulate your plan.

We love customers….

Customer service is one of those experiences which everyone says they excel at. However, the word quality is very subjective. What does it really mean? How do you go to quantifying something which is partly an intangible?

It’s probably fair to say that small businesses probably do make more of an effort on customer service. It means more to them, it’s a lot more personal, the person you are dealing with, it most likely the business owner and want to ensure the best experience for you as a customer or user of their product or service.

Even within 24 hours and recent days, I’ve seen polar opposite examples of how having the right communication can go a long way. Making it easier for your customer to see, find and engage is so essential, in creating the right experience.

A few tails….
… An associate of ours popped in and was discussing a project and common experiences came into the conversation. We both mentioned a salesperson who we’ve come across at various networking events. Needless to say, the perception was highly the same. The body language, tone of voice and conduct had made a similar impression, which was quite brusque and loud.
…Unfortunately my schedule this week has been manic, and realising I needed to use my Saturday morning more smartly I decided to try a gym session earlier. Much to my disappointment didn’t open to much later (weekdays it is 0630). Again the tone and body language of the member of staff who greeted me was curt and abrupt.
…Our Plumber was in the area, following a recent online conversation about upgrading our shower, popped by and give us the information we needed. Un-prompted, courtesy call, soon found out the specification and the boundary of our old shower, which provided enough information for the boundaries on the specification for a replacement.

It’s really simple to see, the value adds, don’t cost anything. Simple premises of choosing your attitude, being there for the customer, making their day is great to add bring a smile back in return. Longevity wise, the benefits of the extras do pay off, referrals are more likely with great positive experiences. Mediocracy results in no action, as nothing memorable sparks a trigger. However, the negative experiences become “old wife’s tails” which unfortunately spread too much. So if you’re marketing budget is limited, canny customer experiences can result in great word of mouth referrals which bring greater trust levels from new customers, as you’ve already partially won them over.

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