Archive for the ‘customer satisfaction’ Category

An Effective Use of CRM

March 24, 2008

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of keeping in touch with your customers after the sale is made. Shortly after publishing it, I received an email from Hotel La Meridiana in Sorrento, Italy doing nothing but wishing me a happy Easter. My wife and I stayed there for one night last summer during our holiday. The hotel was nice (nothing fancy), and upon our departure, we decided that we might stay there again if we ever return. I can’t say that this email changed our perception of the hotel, but it has changed our perception of the type of people who run the place. Making the effort to stay in touch with a couple from Cincinnati, Ohio who stayed there for a single night because it was cheap and had a vacancy means something to me.

What does this mean for your business? Clearly, staying in touch with people matters. How do you do that? Make a minimal investment of time and expense in a Customer Relationship Management system. You can sign up for an account with any software as a service CRM package today. Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and Hinutech CRM (shameless self promotion, I know) are best of breed and can help you quickly keep track of all of your customer interactions. You can track important dates, create marketing campaigns, capture support issues and establish sales pipelines that help you guide your contacts to prospects to customers. Moving to a CRM solution takes some effort on your part, but when done properly, a system like this can really help you make an impact on your customers and allow you to be an excellent resource for them.

Who knows? Some random person might even link to you in their blog some day because of a thoughtful email you sent them through your system.

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Video Delivery and Meeting Consumers More Than Half Way

March 13, 2008

While reading a post at Dan Miller’s blog, I began thinking about the changing models of entertainment delivery, and it occurred to me that Hollywood Video is going to go away because they weren’t able to respond to customers fast enough. They held onto the old model of entertainment delivery for too long and are being replaced by iTunes and Netflix. I am a Netflix subscriber and will soon be doing away with the subscription in favor of iTunes (as soon as iTunes gets more movies…). Netflix delivers physical DVDs with astounding efficiency, but I prefer immediate and cheaper. I have a Mac at home, and Netflix’s reaction to the iTunes download service only works with Windows. I will be a Netflix missed opportunity.

Companies need to meet consumers more than half way. Companies can no longer rely on the consumer coming to them any more. Interruptions are no longer needed. Why interrupt my life to go to a video store when I can download a movie? Interruption marketing is no longer a working model. Million dollar commercials don’t sell me — the opinions/comments of millions of people on Amazon and in various blogs do. This is permission marketing at its finest. You and your product must be ready for me when I need you to be. Not before, and (as in the case of Netflix and Hollywood Video) certainly not after.

Whether you run your own business or are working for someone else, the old model of selling and marketing will continue to produce diminishing results. Find, embrace and enhance a new model that puts the people to whom you hope to sell in control. Serve them well. Get them talking to their friends. Deliver something amazing, and they will handle 99% of your marketing for you.

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Creating A Social Network Around Church

March 12, 2008

My younger brother is a Brethren Minister in Northeastern Ohio. His primary focus for the past several years has been to plant churches in new areas and bring people to church who are “tired of the idea of church.” I have been to a few of his services, and they are very compelling and non-traditional. The message is usually very personal and relates directly to my brother or one of the people who has joined the church family.

My brother’s church is growing. People feel connected to him and each other on Sunday morning — and during the numerous get-togethers they have throughout the week. The personable way that the message is delivered coupled with the genuine caring that has been fostered in this community has resulted in a committed church.

I had lunch with my brother today, and we discussed the growth and the challenges that he faced as a church leader. I challenged him to think even more differently about how he could continue to engage his community and get his message out to even more people. I can think of no organization that would benefit more from a well done, interactive web presence. I encouraged my brother to start blogging routinely to share his insights with the church. Gather their responses. Foster dialog about beliefs, current events, daily living. The members would invite friends to join in the discussion through sharing of posts, and though there would not necessarily be more butts in seats on Sunday morning, the church and the church’s message would reach a huge number of people.

Just like non-profits are changing their models (think Kiva.org) to engage people with their marketing versus interrupting them asking for money, churches (along with every other people-based venture) need to re-think how they are connecting with their flocks. Are churches keeping current members engaged? Are churches engaging enough to attract new members? Are churches meeting people’s needs and enabling their personal growth on their terms?

If you know of any churches who are doing this kind of stuff well, please let me know.

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Apple’s Time Machine Debacle

March 3, 2008

Apple royally messed up their support for wireless backups via Time Machine by not allowing their customers to backup to a hard drive that is connected to their Airport Extreme Base Station. Many people purchased an Airport Extreme just to be able to take advantage of this capability when Leopard was released. Insult-to-injury time came when Apple release Time Capsule: an Airport Extreme Base Station with a hard drive included. So, what you have is some of your early adopters feeling taken advantage of (see the complaining at MacWorld).

For all of the good things about Apple, they have a habit of making their early adopters pay. Lessons can be learned from Apple’s behavior: treat your customers like gold. Treat the ones who put faith in you early on by giving you money before you’ve proven yourself even better. If you don’t, the instant feedback mechanism of the web will hurt you tremendously.

Rate Increases

February 26, 2008

I just signed an invoice for an annual rate increase from a vendor. They have provided no additional value for us over the past 12 months, but they feel that we should pay more. Interesting concept. Companies need to work in such a way that their customers will gladly pay more on an annual basis. Give me automatic updates. Give me features that I didn’t know I couldn’t live without. Make your service so outstanding that I feel a little bad about not paying you more.