Wrapping up the third quarter of 2009:
Good words of advice from Marketing Profs:
Oh, No, Not Her Again!
“Eighty-seven-year-old Gladys has a reputation among her fellow retirement community members,” write Marilyn Shuttle and Lori Jo Vest in the first chapter of Who’s Your Gladys? “She’s known as a cranky complainer who is impossible to please.” But when she called Professional Movers for a quote, the company’s sales rep, Chris, decided to treat her spunk and tenacity with respect. “By the end of his visit,” they continue, “Gladys had bonded with Chris and booked the move.”
As always seems to happen with our most irritable customers, though, something went wrong: During the move, an employee accidentally cracked Gladys’ marble tabletop. Andrew Androff, a co-owner of Professional Movers, braced himself for the tongue-lashing he knew would come. “[He] felt compassion for her while she vented,” note Shuttle and Vest, “and assured her that his company would have the table repaired, and this if she wasn’t satisfied with the results, he would replace it.”
Chris followed up by visiting Gladys at home—rather than making a phone call—and promised a satisfactory resolution, no matter what it took. So when repairs to the tabletop fell short of expectations, he volunteered to drive Gladys to the store, where she chose a replacement.
The extraordinary customer service cost the company time and money, but it impressed Gladys so deeply that her word-of-mouth recommendations have made Professional Movers the number-one choice in her retirement complex. “High and persistent praise from such a hard-to-please person attracts attention,” conclude Shuttle and Vest.
The Po!nt: You just might turn your most difficult customers into your greatest advocates by handling them with compassion and thoughtfulness.
Source: Who’s Your Gladys? Click here for more information.
And now with Social Media, bad PR will spread faster than a California wildfire.
Lorraine Ball wrote this on her blog today, sent out a message on twitter (she has 2,407 followers), and now I’m reposting it here.
The hotel should be grateful that they were not named in what she wrote:
Customer Service Begins With Your Front Line
Posted by Lorraine on September 30, 2009
Are the people who touch your customers most often empowered to make good service decisions on your behalf?
The other day I was in a parking garage, attached to a hotel, which had an automated payment machine. I put in my ticket and my credit card, and should have been charged $8.00
When my receipt came out, I was charged $23 for two hours of parking. And while this may be the going rate in cities like New York, Chicago or LA, this is quite a bit more than we typically pay for a parking spot in Indianapolis, Indiana. And so, knowing I had been overcharged, I took my ticket and my receipt and walked inside the hotel to secure a refund.
I approached the registration desk and explained what had happened to the woman behind the counter. She looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. Clearly she was unaware there was a parking garage attached to the hotel in which she worked and was absolutely clueless as to what she should do about my problem.
After a few moments, I asked if there was someone else who could help me. She went off, and found someone who was aware of the parking garage. The second woman took my credit card, and wandered off again. Despite the fact that they had several credit card terminals at the desk, and a cash drawer, my $15 refund had to be processed elsewhere.
At this point, I had invested more than 20 minutes for a $15 refund, and I was beginning to wonder if it was really worth the continued wait, but she had my credit card, so I stayed.
She returned, with lots of paper work, my credit card, and a new ticket I could use to exit the garage. While I should have been grateful for her efforts, under this incredibly stupid system, I was just annoyed. With lots of downtown parking, it is unlikely I will choose this garage again.
What about you? Are your systems designed to allow your front line to respond to customer requests quickly? Do they know how to handle unusual situations and keep customers coming back?
(cartoon from main.nc.us/cartoons/archive13.html)
This Week’s Tip:
A Question That Can Be Viewed as
Cheesy or Good, Depending On …
Here’s a technique that can be either solid,
or sound cheesy, depending upon where it’s
used on a call:
“What’s it going to take to get your business?”
I had a guy use this on me the other day. This
was the opening statement on a cold call.
Caller: “Hey, Art. Bill at Audio Duplicators. We
duplicate CD’s and DVD’s. I wondering what
it would take to get your business?”
I felt like saying, “A better salesperson,” but I
was just a bit more tactful in saying “I’m not
interested,” which he didn’t question.
Of course, using this early begs all kinds of
comments and questions from prospects and
customers, some spoken, some not. Some
logical, some smart-alecky. All justified. For
“Why should I even consider answering the
“Who ARE you?”
“If you gave it to me for free, maybe.”
“I’m satisfied with the company I’m using.”
The problem with this question, used early, is
that it is much too early, and no value whatsoever
has been even hinted at yet. I had no reason to
stay on the phone with him, and he is asking ME
to explain how I would give him my business!
WHEN IT’S OK
Let’s fast forward in a call … one where there’s
a good opening, nice qualifying and need-development
questions, a strong presentation, perhaps an
attempt to close, and the prospect hems and haws
with, “I’m just not sure.”
Then, this would make more sense.
“Pat, we seem to be in agreement that this is what
you’re looking for, and the price is within your budget.
What is it going to take for us to move forward?”
OTHER DECISION-MAKING CRITERIA QUESTIONS
Here are questions I like to ask in the probing stage.
Especially when you are competing with someone
else for a piece of business.
“How, specifically, will you make your decision?”
“What decision-making criteria will you use, and
which areas will be most important to you?”
“If we are at the top in all of those areas, will we
be the one you choose?”
“If you made a decision today, where would we
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Attitudes are more important than facts”
Dr. Karl Menninger
Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!
Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137, (402) 895-9399. Or, email:email@example.com
Click on the links to read more:
A Clip-And-Save Renaissance
Heather Hernandez walked into a supermarket with a stack of coupons last month and walked out with $160 worth of groceries, for which she paid $30.
“With the economy right now everyone wants to make their dollars go further,” said Ms. Hernandez, a stay-at-home mother in Houston who clips and files coupons with the meticulousness of an accountant. “I see all kinds of people using coupons. I see teenagers using coupons. I see grandfathers using coupons.”
It may be the digital age, but when it comes to pinching pennies, most consumers are opting for a method that is well over a 100 years old: the paper coupon. Thanks to the miserable economy, coupons — like board games and family dinners around the kitchen table — have made a comeback. The recession has even made coupon clippers out of some groups that once avoided them, including well-to-do shoppers and young shoppers.
“Coupons were not in vogue during our period of gluttonous consumption,” said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist in San Francisco and an author of “Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail.” “But now that it’s once again cool to be cheap, they’re back.”
Coupon redemption in America peaked in 1992, at the end of a recession, when 7.9 billion coupons were redeemed, according to Inmar, a coupon-processing company. By 2006, that number fell to 2.6 billion and stagnated there through 2008.
As the economy worsened and consumer sentiment plunged, coupon redemption ticked up 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with the period a year ago — the first jump in coupon redemption since the early 1990s. In the first half of this year, coupon redemption climbed 23 percent. Some 1.6 billion coupons were redeemed, leading Inmar to forecast that more than three billion coupons will be redeemed this year.
More of them are being redeemed by consumers who have long avoided coupons.
“The households that tend to not coupon as much are all couponing significantly more this year versus last year,” said Neil Heffernan, senior vice president and general manager for the research company Knowledge Networks/PDI. The group’s most recent figures show that in January and February combined, coupon use among young, single consumers with minimal savings rose 14 percent, in contrast to the same months last year.
Coupon use among another group — affluent consumers born in the late 1950s and 1960s — rose 13 percent in January and February, compared with the same months in the previous year. Data from Nielsen published last month underscored this trend, showing that households earning $70,000 or more a year were among the top coupon users.
Matthew Tilley, director of marketing for Inmar, said that coupon use was growing most among such groups and that they were the ones driving traffic to Web sites with printable coupons, like Redplum.com and Coupons.com. Redemption of printable coupons, which span the divide between old-fashioned paper coupons and newer digital versions, grew 308 percent in the first half of this year, from a small base.
“I believe it’s not coincidental that the spike in coupon redemption began just as some of the worst economic news hit the front pages,” Mr. Tilley said, adding that coupon-cutting is but one more way consumers are changing their habits. “Folks are going back to the basics,” he said, “trying to live simpler lives.”
Coupon redemption was also spurred on by marketers who dangled more valuable deals. Mr. Tilley said there was a 9 percent increase last year in the face value of coupons. That has declined slightly this year, though; marketers know more consumers are using coupons, and companies can afford to pull back a bit.
“It is a sign of the times,” said Kelly McFalls, a spokeswoman for BJ’s Wholesale Club, which accepts manufacturers’ coupons. Underscoring the nationwide trend, more BJ’s shoppers are using such coupons, as well as the BJ’s store coupons.
Digital coupon use, on the Web and on cellphones, is also growing. In the first half of this year about 10 million digital coupons were redeemed, up 25 percent compared with the period a year earlier, according to Inmar. However, paper coupons still make up the bulk of coupons redeemed in the nation, with digital coupons accounting for less than half a percent of all coupons distributed.
The primacy of paper over pixels is partly because new methods of digitally distributing coupons have yet to fully catch on. It is also because many grocery and drug stores still offer coupons inside weekend newspapers. Indeed, in the first half of this year there was a 29 percent increase in coupons distributed for food products, in contrast to the period a year ago, according to Inmar. As Mr. Tilley put it, that “is going to boost redemption because everybody’s got to eat.”
Consumer psychologists posit yet another reason for the popularity of paper coupons: Because it takes more work to acquire them, the people who do so feel they have outsmarted other shoppers.
“Saving money so often means not doing something, as in not buying something,” Ms. Yarrow said. “Coupon-clipping has a proactive quality to it that appeals to bargain hunters.”
And though some consumers know about mobile coupon services like Cellfire, scholars say shoppers still have concerns about privacy and security. “In the same way it took a while for A.T.M.’s to catch on,” Ms. Yarrow said, “I think it’ll take a bit longer for the mobile coupons to become mainstream.”
Coupon devotees see the enterprise as vast game of saving money, and they share tips through increasingly popular Web sites.
One of their strategies is to hold on to their coupons until the store puts those items on sale — typically a month or so after the coupons are first offered. Coupon clippers who regularly save about half of their weekly grocery bill say it is because they watch store fliers to find out when items will go on sale and then use their coupons on top of the sale price.
“Sometimes the coupon brings you down to nearly zero dollars,” said Susan J. Samtur of Scarsdale, N.Y., who is known in bargain-hunting circles as the coupon queen.
While some consumers dismiss coupon-cutting as too time-consuming, adept coupon users contend it is a matter of getting into the habit, though it does require discipline.
Longtime coupon users, for instance, do not keep coupons crumpled up in their wallets. They opt for small accordion folders with tabs for shopping categories that correspond to store aisles, like “baking” and “frozen foods.” They keep scissors on hand. They clip coupons on Sundays and file them while on the subway, or while boiling water for spaghetti. And they paper-clip coupons to their shopping lists so they do not forget to use them.
Another way coupon clippers save is by shedding brand loyalty and buying whatever is on sale. Ms. Samtur, who hunts for coupons for consumers at Selectcouponprogram.com, is so good at it that she also shops for her adult children — including the girlfriends of two of her sons.
“I’m paying 30 cents for the yogurt, and they’re not fussy,” she said, “so long as it’s the low-fat ones.”
Also, coupon mavens point out that even if a coupon expires, stores may be flexible about the rules for their own coupons. Ms. Hernandez of Houston, who chronicles her deals at freebies4mom.com, recently spent more than $50 on groceries, then found out she missed a deal for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more. She went back to the store with her receipt and got $10 back.
“It never hurts to ask,” she said.
(Source: NYTimes.com, 09/24/09)
Email Marketing has increased and as we get ready for the holiday season, more and more business marketers are using Email. Here are some tips from MarketingProfs.com on what not to do:
OK, OK, so I Screwed Up
Despite your commitment to following best practices, you might still commit minor email-marketing sins on occasion. Well, take heart: You are not alone. In a post at the Email Experience Council blog, Marco Marini recounts asking his staff to create a list of the 10 most frequent mistakes they have observed in campaigns deployed by their ClickMail clients.
“The good news,” he says, “is that they only came up with nine. And the even better news is that these are all easy best practices to adapt and adhere to.”
Here are a few of the reported transgressions:
Sloppy copy. Each and every message should be closely vetted for spelling errors, incorrect grammar or such sins as the notorious use of their when the writer meant they’re.
Obscure “from” labels. Choose the name in your “from” line with great care, and once you use it, stick with it. Remember: Subscribers who don’t recognize a name in their inbox might delete your message without reading it—or, worse yet, mark it as spam.
Competing links. According to Marini, you’ll muddy your results if you link to more than one location. “Unless it’s a newsletter,” he notes, “most emails should be single-subject with a single call-to-action. If it’s a sale, link to the appropriate sale items. If it’s an invitation, link to the registration page.”
The Po!nt: Always try to do your best—practices. “In an industry where a half a percentage point can make or break a campaign,” says Marini, “it’s our opinion that tweaking and optimizing every possible factor is worth the effort.” Go ahead and nitpick!
Source: Email Experience Council. Read the full post here.