CRW Graphics

Creating customer focused cultures.

With all the choices that a customer has today about where to place business, customer focus has again become a major concern of most businesses. But where does one begin to evaluate if a company is truly customer-focused?

Maybe the place to start is not that different from if you were considering a new product line. You take inventory and ask a few questions. What do you already have? Where is your company now? Do you treat this as an add-on and not a part of everyday life? What are your customer touch points and how do you measure them? What is your result?

Rethinking the customer experience is not a one-time push but rather a concerted everyday effort. If it is on an add-on, not a fundamental change to the way that they approach everyday commerce, the new initiatives to establish customer centric cultures will fail. If it is treated as if it is the company’s needs and not the customers’ needs that are being served, then the commitments for people, resources and other competing issues required for the company to become customer centric will eventually fail due to lack of budget, internal conflict and lack of leadership of senior management. A daily priority push will move these initiatives back. It needs to be a part of everyday working environment, just like reading email or attending meetings, something that everyone just does.

How do we build a case for making customer focus important?

One thing that I have noticed is that if something in business has a strong financial impact on the company it gets dealt with quickly. When most companies try to create a customer-focused culture they don’t pay enough attention to the financial impact and business logic of customer focus. It is often seen as something nice to do, not as a potential profit center. Reduction of complaints leads to reduction of customer loss. If a case were made that the ROI experiences a direct correlation with customer satisfaction and a positive customer experience is profitable and measurable, then establishing a customer-focused culture would become a management mandate.

How much is it going to cost to reduce customer complaints and what is the comparative cost of the loss of lifetime income from those customers? This one question answered with financial and business logic has the power to change how a company approaches the world outside its doors. Rally initiatives around this question to create a better customer experience and to develop a roadmap to capture key customer experience metrics and improve the customer experience, then watch the ROI climb.

 

Respect your customer’s time and sales should follow.

Good direct marketing has become a rare commodity, but done well it can boost brand image and sales. The advent of the Internet has changed direct marketing forever.  The Internet and smart phones have become a very convenient way to buy. Smart phones allow customers to be reached all the time and that has become a tempting target for marketers. But is always the right way to proceed? Digital response rates remain dismally low.

In an article in Ad Age it was stated:

“Even though response rates haven’t risen, the report shows that direct mail is 10 to 30 times more effective than email, and other digital channels have similar low rates. To quote the report, “for every 1,000 existing customers receiving a direct-mail piece, 34 will respond on average. For email, the average response — measured by taking the click-through rate and multiplying the conversion per click — is 0.12%.” That means that only 1 customer out of 1,000 would follow the email solicitation through to sale.”

People are busier than they ever have been before and many buy online. Email, social media and mobile messaging reach the customer with unprecedented frequency but often at the expense of the customer’s time and privacy. Spam, pop ups and mobile GPS messages can be intrusive and often are considered junk. One of the most important reasons this happens is that the messages are continual and poorly targeted. Consumers are interrupted throughout their day by their mobile and social media platforms, so that much of what comes through is viewed as spam. Digital media has not been well used, and this type of messaging just annoys the audience. Well-thought-out direct marketing such as quality print can provide a viable alternative.

Direct mail by its very nature allows the consumer to read the content at a time and place that is convenient for them. It also has the additional benefit of having tactile appeal. A beautiful sheet of paper with rich colorful artwork can stand on its own, or have the added dimension of a scent or a voice chip. Print appeals to multiple senses, and can lead to a richer experience for the consumer. Direct mail also gives customers the ability to be relatively anonymous.  They never have to interact with a person during a purchase, have data gathered by a website or a cookie placed on their computer.

Direct mail, like any media, is worthless unless it speaks to the needs of their customers.  A winning approach would be to create a meaningful printed piece that speaks to the target audience, reframes the category to deliver a functional and emotional benefit, develops a solution that fits the customer’s need, and is executed and delivered in a physical tactile and timely manner. The unique advantage of direct mail is that it is respectful of the customer’s time. It does not interrupt any activity. We read our mail when we choose to.