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Want Life-Long Customers? Design the Customer Experience Through Their Eyes

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, Debra Mendes – Enjoy! 

The relationship you create and develop with your customer is key to developing a successful business. The experience the customer has with your business is a driving factor in developing this relationship. The experience or relationship is not just about how they feel about your product or service; it is the entire journey beginning from the first moment they meet or discover you.

To build a long lasting relationship with your customer, begin with a comprehensive and consistent framework. The Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™ allows you to design the customer experience by identifying and understanding each interaction with the customer and progression in the relationship with you. The Hourglass will allow you to map the journey the customer takes as they get to Know, Like, and Trust your business, into the conversion phase of the Hourglass as they Try and Buy your product or service, and ongoing as a life-long customer who Repeats and Refers.

Defining your customer interactions may seem like a lot of work. It is. But it’s valuable. Customer loyalty and referrals deliver financial dividends and are the result of a positive customer experience – one that is worth sharing with others.

The key to building successful interactions is to predict your customers’ needs and proactively resolve them. Often what we do is think from our point of view of how do we connect, what do we give them. Instead consider questions from their point of view such as:

  • What information do they need?
  • When do they need it?
  • How do they want consume it?
  • What will they want to do next?

Questions to understand what your customer needs and wants will help you create and reinvent a positive experience. Taking the approach from the customer perspective first instead of mapping out the points of contact and how you want to interact with them will give you the fresh look at what it is the customer expects.

Step 1 – Getting Started

In order to design and deliver these customer interactions, you first need to have developed your marketing strategy. Understanding your purpose, difference, core message, and ideal customer makes defining your customer interactions easier for you and more valuable for your customers. Each of your interactions should be designed from the perspective of an individual customer persona.

Step 2 – Understand the Customer Perspective

Begin by creating a customer experience map. In the first column list the following five (5) questions. (Note: you can do this on a piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or a white board.)

1. What is the customer goal(s)?
2. What questions does the customer have?
3. What is the customer expectation? (What expectations to they have in perspective of answering their questions?)
4. What is the customer feeling?
5. What action/outcome do we think best helps customer? (What action do we want them to take?)
6. How can we create the journey to achieve customer goal?

Notice we did not start with points of contact, the idea is to know why they would connect, and then design how to connect with a purpose.

Step 3 – Map the Customer Journey

Create a row above for each stage of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™ begin with Know, Like, and Trust then continuing into Try and Buy and ending with Repeat and Refer. This framework will allow you to answer the questions about the customer experience and envision how they will progress from one step of the Marketing Hourglass to the next. Repeat the process for each of your interactions.

Step 4 – Prioritize and Implement

With your new experience map in hand, you can now prioritize and begin to develop or improve the systems that will provide the most value to you and your customer.

Designing the customer experience with a view to creating life-long customers doesn’t have to be complicated. Using the Marketing Hourglass as the framework and putting yourself in the mindset of your customer will allow you develop customer relationships that have lifelong benefit for you and your customer.

debra mendesDebra Mendes is the Co-founder of Valens Point, dedicated to helping small businesses in the high-tech industry achieve their growth goals in a systematic and practical way.  Debra is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. She currently lives in the beautiful and rich historic area of the Shenandoah Valley near our nations’ capital   In her spare time, she gardens, and hangs out on the back yard decks with friends and neighbors.  For more articles like this, visit the Valens Point Blog, or connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

"What's Rachael Cooking?" Integrating Brand Story and Customer Journey

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, Andy Catsimanes – Enjoy!

Racheal Ray

Tacos, it all comes back to tacos. via photopin (license)

Every workday I sit down with my business partner – who also happens to be my amazing wife, Shawn – for our mid-morning breakfast break.

We have a set routine, including our menu, which consists of steel-cut oats mixed with peanut butter, yogurt, berries, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon and homemade granola (or “crunchies”).

About 35 minutes after the hour, as we sit down to the table, one of us will turn on the television and say, “What’s Rachael cooking today?”

And then we eat our breakfast as Rachael Ray demonstrates her latest shortcut to culinary good times.

The takeaway for your business?

Rachael has made her brand story part of her viewer’s life story and parlayed that relationship into a small empire to the benefit of both her and her viewer.

How do you integrate your brand story into your customer’s journey?

Customer Journey

June 18, 2013 Basque in the Glory / Northern Camino de Santiago Tour #frescotours via photopin (license)

The first step is the most obvious. It’s also where many businesses stumble:

Have a story to tell and a point of view from which to tell it.

Of course, “point of view” refers to much more than your take on things; that’s just an opinion.

Your point of view should encapsulate the total value you bring to your ideal customer, otherwise known as your brand hero.

What is it about your own business’ journey that your brand hero finds compelling?

If you aren’t sure, ask! Or better yet, have a skilled interviewer ask for you.

Jonah Sachs, author of Winning the Story Wars, describes this process as “finding the moral of your story.”

Your moral, writes Sachs, is a truth about how the world works.

Rachael Ray’s moral could be stated as “Cooking is more than nutrition. Cooking feeds the body and soul and brings us all closer together.”

And Rachael promises to show us how to make that work, even with the most time-starved of schedules.

Once you have the moral of your story, weave it into your content at every opportunity.

Equally as important, you must also understand your buyer’s story.

(Notice throughout this article, I refer to your “buyer” or customer in the singular case. That’s a habit I learned as a direct response copywriter, and one that the Duct Tape Marketing System places great emphasis on.)

As marketers, we have access to mountains of data. And the most effective way to organize that data is to personify it.

As Brené Brown likes to remind us, “Stories are just data with a soul.”

That’s why a buyer persona needs to be more than just a profile. It’s your window into the soul of your customer.

How to breathe life into your buyer persona:

In Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch recommends that you not only name your buyer, he suggests you might want to make a “Fathead” style cutout and seat it at the conference table during your next marketing meeting.

Ask your persona questions. Enter into the conversation going on in your customer’s head.

Rachael Ray’s marketing team can track how many hits a particular recipe gets online after it has aired on her show.

And like the smart marketers I’m sure they are, they’ll take that information and all the other data they have to not only enter the conversation in their customers head — they’ll use it to enter the story going on in their customer’s life.

Here’s the format we use to begin sketching out a buyer persona. If you haven’t already done so, use this as a first step before you create another piece of content.

persona1

Andy CatsimanesAndy Catsimanes is the founder of DayByDay Marketing, dedicated to helping SMBs, churches, and non-profits identify and implement workable marketing systems for predictable growth. Andy’s a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, direct response copywriter, and experienced WordPress professional. In his spare time, he volunteers as an ally for Circles® USA. For more articles like this, subscribe to the DayByDay Marketing Blog, or connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

5 A Simple Approach to The Customer Journey

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, David Smith – Enjoy!

customer journey

Photo Credit: OneDollarPhoto, gustavofrazao

If you are a small business owner, you instinctively know it’s a wonderful thing when a customer receives value AND has a very positive experience when they deal with your business.

If the journey is hard and the experience is on par with your peers, or worse, unpleasant, you’ll have no chance of building a lasting relationship (loyalty) with the customer. You’ll miss out on the repeat business and referrals that delighted customers bring.

Plainly speaking: The better the experience with your business, the more opportunity you will have with the customer.

That is why Customer Experience (CX) has become a much talked about element for building a successful business.

The major consultancies (Gartner, Forrester, etc.) define Customer Experience in a common way: customer feelings and perceptions caused by interactions with your business. Large companies are advised to have coordinated and consistent experiences across their multiple channels and business units. Many large organizations have an entire department focused on nothing but Customer Experience.

If you are a small business, the complexities of multiple business units may not exist. Your sales transaction, support, service, training, and other opportunities to craft customer experiences go through a small set of people and systems within your business. With limited resources, effectively designing and managing the Customer Experience can become overwhelming to a small business.

By taking a simple approach, a small business can achieve the same results as a large organization that has a Customer Experience Officer or Department.

Using a small business perspective may be the best way for you to think, plan, and implement interactions that achieve positive feelings about your business.

Instead of thinking Customer Experience (macro) think Customer Journey (micro).

Simply put – break it down.

Practically speaking, the Customer Experience is made up of many Customer Journeys. The Customer Journey is the path customers take to solve a particular problem or need. In some cases, the journey results in a transaction for a good or service, which is why the Customer Journey is sometimes also called the Buyer’s Journey.

Customer Journeys are repeated for every instance where the consumer is purposely engaged and looking to achieve a value outcome. The cumulative effect of these interactions creates the Customer Experience.

By breaking it down, moving from the macro view of Experience to the micro view of Journeys, you can begin to simplify and design the interactions of your customers one at a time. The Journeys are simply the interactions and opportunities you have to deliver value and build positive feelings in your customer.

There are potentially dozens of major points of interaction within a small business. Examples include interactions from:

  • the initial purchase
  • returning customers
  • support or service
  • training or instruction
  • billing or administration

If you use a consistent framework, such as the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™, you can define the customer progression toward value and positive feelings. The Hourglass will allow you to map the progress the customer takes from discovering they Know, Like, and Trust your business, into the conversion phase of the Hourglass, Try and Buy.

The Customer Journey doesn’t have to be complicated. Breaking it down into small parts allows you to successfully build systems that deliver value and create positive interaction.

David Smith Valens PointDavid knows first hand the strains of expanding a small business while continually delivering optimal customer and financial results. He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and understands the ability to gain additional customers and revenue has proven to be the critical element of small business. David helps customers install effective sales and marketing programs via his firm ValensPoint. He earned a degree in Business Administration from Faulkner University (Montgomery, AL). He resides near Anniston, AL.

Customer Journey Through The Tourney

Happy March, everyone! It is my favorite time of year. Spring weather is here, and March Madness is just around the corner.

While many of us are focusing on buzzer beaters and bracket busters, business owners should be focused on improving the way their businesses get their customers to Know, Like, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer their product. We call this the customer journey, and we visualize it with a tool called the Marketing Hourglass.

But ignoring basketball this month is easier said than done, I thought I might visualize the customer journey a different way – through the lens of a college basketball fan.

First Four – Know

The First Four is the official kick-off to March Madness, and it begins the Wednesday before the first weekend of the main tournament. This may be the first time you have heard of any of these teams, let alone watch them play. This would mirror the first time a customer encounters your business.

While you watch these early games, be aware of all of the ways new customers may encounter your business for the first time, and imagine different ways to reach more people.

Second Round – Like

The next step is to get this customer to like your business. New fans of basketball teams begin to like the team if they know enough about them to correctly predict a second-round upset.

For your business, you must strive to give potential customers great first impressions. Think about all of those customer touch-points in the previous round. Are there ways to improve the experience to create better impressions?

Third Round – Trust

Getting your customers to trust you is an important step towards turning them into paying customers. The Cinderella team you have been following earns your trust by winning another game. Not only are you rooting for them, but you are starting to believe they have a chance to win it all.

Like the team working hard for an upset, show your customers you are working hard to earn their trust, and they’ll start to believe in your business.

Sweet 16 – Try

Say your favorite new team has made it past the first weekend of the tournament. Games are now stand-alone, so more people are watching and cheering for every team. This is the first time a new fan can truly feel like a fan, a part of this team’s community.

The same goes for your business. Give your customers an experience to try and show them the value of your product. If they like what they experience, they will take the plunge and buy your product.

Elite Eight – Buy

Now it comes time for your customer to buy your product. During the tournament, this may be the stage when a new fan buys a t-shirt or some other memorabilia from the now improbable Elite Eight run.

For businesses, some of you may think this is the ultimate goal. It isn’t. You want to now shift your focus to turning these customers into continuing business.

Final Four – Repeat

Not every team makes it to the Final Four, just like your customers don’t always become repeat customers. The thrill of your chosen team making the Final Four is your reward for your support so far. Win or lose, this is exciting enough you’ll likely want to experience it again in the future. Your business is no different. Reward your customers for their business with great customer service or continued support, and they’ll keep coming back.

National Championship – Refer

This is the biggest step a customer can take for your business. Customers that continually refer your business to their family and friends are the best for the long term viability of your company. For the basketball team, win or lose in the national championship game, you’ll be telling your friends you were there to see their run to the final, and they should be fans too.

Referrals are the culmination of all of the steps that came before, and it is the championship trophy you should be seeking for your business.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

Building Relationships Through the Customer Loop

Today’s Guest Post is by Sam Balter – Enjoy!

The customer journey is a simplified expression of the complex thought process of a customer looking to purchase something. A quick Google search for ‘customer journey’ brings up a myriad of complex diagrams full of hundreds of metrics. The truth is that every company has a unique customer journey; each marketing channel has a unique customer journey, and every product has a unique customer journey. All customers go through a different journey and engage with a brand in a unique way.

The customer journey model relies on seeing a buying decision as linear and a one-off interaction. Brands that will succeed in cross-channel marketing are building a relationship with their customer in every stage of the journey. When thinking about mobile, specifically mobile messaging, it’s all about creating a frictionless and compelling experience for the customer.

Let’s take the basic model of the customer journey: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Retention -> Advocacy. The most successful businesses will foster a relationship each step of the customer journey, and along the way, delight their customer.

waterfall, the customer journeyAwareness:
Using physical signage or online advertising is a great way to create awareness of your brand. Visual advertisements capture customers’ attention and use the present moment to start building a relationship via mobile. Here’s an example of a simple text Call-To-Action (CTA) on a billboard:

Get 20% off your next purchase
Text KRUSTY to 55155

Using a text call-to-action on outdoor signage helps get more from marketing dollars because the billboard creates an impression, and the mobile messaging gives you a way to speak directly to your customer. Mobile messaging adds a CRM component to an awareness campaign.

To take this a step further, a brand might want to ask their customer for their zip code so that location-specific offers can be delivered. If you want to see some great CTAs, check out our site where we’ve compiled examples of successful CTAs, Art of the CTA.

Consideration:
To optimize the efficacy of mobile as a channel, it’s imperative to send the right message at the right time. If Krusty Burger wants to increase lunch traffic, it makes no sense to send a message at 4:15pm. Instead, achieve optimal results by sending a message one to two hours before a customer is encouraged to take action. That way, when their stomach starts to growl, they know they’ve got a Krusty Burger coupon in their pocket.

To take it to another level, consider using a share-with-friend function that will allow more people to get in on the savings while capturing more phone numbers in the process.

Purchase:
This is an incredibly powerful step of the customer journey. I am very cheap, so sometimes purchasing things can make me feel a little guilty. It is important to offset these feelings of guilt with heart warming offers. For example, offer customers the ability to receive a receipt via Multimedia Message, thereby saving paper, or the chance to enter a sweepstakes, to win a prize. If you have connected unique coupon codes with your point of sale system, you can even deliver the customer a coupon just moments after their purchase.

Retention:
An excellent part of mobile messaging campaigns is that in the awareness stage, a customer can opt-in to a loyalty program, and from there, consistently receive coupons and deals. For mobile messaging loyalty programs, we suggest the offers vary; mix SMS and MMS, and collect different pieces of information every few messages. Ask questions like: What is your favorite meal? When is your birthday? What is your email address, etc.? Encourage customers to provide information with incentives, and only ask for information if you will use it to delight your customers.

Advocacy:
It seems like only a few years ago, the only way for people to advocate for a brand or product they believed in was through word of mouth. Now, every customer has access to a digital bullhorn. Capitalize on customers’ social media connects with mobile messaging by embedding ‘click to tweet or post’ within your message copy. At Waterfall, we are big fans of viral sharing campaigns. Dropbox built an enormous user base through a viral sharing campaign in which every referral you signed up added additional storage to your account. This is a great way to provide value to your most helpful customers by leveraging the power of social amplification.

Customer Loop – The future of the customer journey
The customer journey has long reigned as a keystone of modern marketing. As we move into a cross-channel world, where brands are advertising to, providing content for, and engaging in conversations with customers, the journey will be replaced by a loop in which each interaction strengthens the bond between brand and brand advocate.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Customer Relationship Management.

Sam Balter WaterfallSam Balter is a Marketing Manager at Waterfall, a mobile messaging and CRM provider that helps companies engage their customers on their phones. Sam writes about mobile strategy, industry trends, and how to create successful cross-channel marketing campaigns.