Mid-Year is when marketers should take a breather and spend a day on some fundamentals. Stepping back can give you proactive insight and make your marketing plan far more important and useful.
Do a day of role playing “Today I am a customer of my own organization” and you might ask 5 friends or members of your team to do the same. TIP: Choose a time at the end of that one day to come together and compare notes. Don’t skip this step as it is where the value of this day comes together. Your compilation will provide a powerful look at what you need to know and what your boss or client might need to know too.
Here is a 15 question road map for maximizing this mid-year ritual:
1. Are you easy to use? You won’t know until you try. Try your own website without your auto-log in. Is it easy? Or a pain? Come in the front door and see if the door swings open easily, or whacks you on the shoulder. What is the first thing you see when you enter a website or walk in the front door? And so forth.
2. Do you offer self-service options for your customers?
If you are in retail: Many customers want them today: unless you’re open 24/7 or at least all conceivable business hours in all time zones in which you have customers, you need such options. And even if you are open ‘round the clock, many times customers today just want to handle it, or at least be able to check up on it, themselves.
If you are a service business: Think about a component you can do immediately, tell the client and then give a plan for the rest of the task. Do your self-service options include escape hatches? For when the self-service isn’t working or the customer isn’t in the mood–there should be an easy way out, to reach a human. Make it obvious, like hitting “O” on the phone.
3. Do your customers have to ask you to answer questions for which the answer should be obvious? Customers don’t like to be burdened to contact you for items that could easily be provided for them on a self service basis. Do your FAQ’s actually include the questions that customers want the answers to? Or were they written six years ago by your web developer? Do they get an auto-confirmation when they order or do they need to call to ensure their order wasn’t lost in the ether? And so on.
4. Timeliness: Are you considerate of your customer’s time? This is a big, big, big one. A perfect product or service delivered late is a defect.Commit to continuous customer service education.Education is an investment in your marketing success and in organizational development.Define a simple service recovery process. Things will go wrong. Either objectively (whatever that means) or in the eyes of your customer. Either way, you need a plan. What would you do right now if something went wrong to demonstrate your leadership and love of the customer?
5. Fight actively–every single day –against getting in a rut. The principle of hedonic adaptation means that your hundredth day on the job, naturally will not be as intense–as exciting, stressful, and so forth– as the first day. This is good to some extent, but it means that you have to actively strive to remember that this same day is the first interaction your customer has had with your company, and you need to keep your attitude fresh to match theirs.
6. First impressions matter.Walk up to, and into, your establishment with the eye of a customer. A customer perception is his reality, and a first impression is important because it tends to linger in a customer’s memory. Ditto if that first interaction is on the phone, via chat, or via mobile. You know smiles can be felt online too right?
7. Impressions before the first impression matter. Of course, there is no “before the first impression.” But the first impression is very likely happening before you realize it: how you’re portrayed online, how your grounds look well before the front door. Disney even obsesses over the route to their parks for this reason.
8. Last impressions matter.It’s so easy when you’ve “completed” an interaction with or project for a customer, to rush on to the next one with the next customer. Doing so can erase all the goodwill you created. The “goodbye” is an important stage, one of the most important, because (like a first impression) it tends to linger in a customer’s memory.
9. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.
12. Reward and Recognize.Acknowledge the contributions of individuals and teams with formal and informal recognition.
13. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.
14. Benchmark outside your industry.If you sell furniture, don’t just benchmark other players in the furniture industry to figure out how fast, easy to use, nice your company should be. Your customers’ expectations for manners, timeliness, quality… come as much from Starbucks, Apple, and other great consumer brands as they do from the others in your particular field. This is where working with an agency has real power – on any one day I am talking to a theme park client, someone in real estate, a mall operator and a futurist – it all comes together every day.
15. Commit to continuous improvement. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “What is the thing I’m going to do tomorrow to make my team better?” Make this the last question you present to your team at the end of the check-up day too.
P.S. By taking the time to do a check-up you will go farther, be a better marketer, better leader and exemplify what it takes to think around corners. Great job!