Differentiation Is Not About Customer Needs, but Objectives

Differentiation Is Not About Customer Needs, but Objectives

Unique customer chart

There’s a constant push to differentiate in today’s competitive climate.

Companies often invest in new products, services, and technologies to help shrink the divide and get a leg up on the competition. It’s a constant struggle and many organizations even create “innovation teams” and programs to discover that next “big idea”.

Most organizations focus on what might be considered the “low hanging fruit”. They examine what competitors are doing and work to create their own flavor of those products or services. They often believe it’s a safe bet and that they’ll simply “do it better” than their competitor, and the revenue will follow.

Alternatively, companies will look to differentiate through a unique marketing campaign with a catchy slogan and creative promotions. Or they will conduct a series of internal discussions to identify what they believe customers want and select the most cost-conscious, easily implementable idea that pops out.

However, none of these things are real differentiation.

Differentiation, by definition, is to become distinct. Or rather, to develop unique and distinguishing characteristics. And by that definition, differentiation clearly can’t be achieved by following others, applying a glossy veneer, or doing the things that are easiest for the company to do.

True differentiation comes from within the organization, through a deep, intimate connection with customers. It would be simple for a company to be different based on what they want internally, but the goal is to become different and distinct for the customer. This requires a more comprehensive understanding of what customers’ needs, objectives, and challenges are than your competitors. In short, it’s about what the customer is trying to accomplish, rather than what the organization is trying to accomplish.

Companies struggle with this problem each and every day. No matter how many customer surveys, brainstorming sessions, journey maps, or competitive studies, differentiation remains elusive. And it remains elusive because these organizations seek the shiny object, rather than what’s relevant to the customer. Not every opportunity to differentiate is ground-breaking – the opportunities that have the most impact often are small, subtle, and most of all, relevant to the customer’s bigger objective.

Customers’ basic needs are often quite simple – such as wanting a mortgage application process to have minimal steps and be hassle-free. However, they actually have a bigger objective, which is often not tied directly to that application process, and this is where most organizations miss the mark, and in turn, the opportunity to differentiate.

For example, if a customer is buying a house for the first time, one of their needs might be “getting a mortgage”, but their bigger objective is to “get a home”. This is a very important difference. By understanding the customer’s objective rather than simply a single need, there is almost an infinite number of opportunities to discover ways to differentiate and serve that customer on a whole new level.

With the “home” objective in mind, many related objectives can come forth, from getting homeowners insurance, to deciding on paint colors for the living room, to finding a contractor to put on a new deck. These “related objectives” are where companies can use their innovation and creativity to address those objectives and take control of a bigger portion of the overall customer experience.

This is why organizations must re-examine how they look at differentiation, and gain a better understanding of what’s relevant to the customers’ objectives, not simply individual, transactional needs or what the company internally wants to address. Customer objectives and their related objectives provide the opportunity for creating unique differentiation.

In short, instead of simply hyper-focusing on addressing basic needs in a different way, focus on serving the unmet, bigger customer objective and related objectives, which might be tangential to your service or offering itself. These tangents must be relevant to the customer’s objectives, and go beyond simply an easy experience or a courteous follow-up from a customer service representative.

The most important thing about differentiation is customer objectives. You can invest in all the bells-and-whistles that your competitors may have, but likely you won’t see the revenue bump you’re seeking. Taking the time to examine a customer’s objectives and relevant objectives will help you uncover that elusive differentiation you’ve been looking for.

About the Author

Andrea Belk Olson Andrea Belk Olson has a 20-year, field-tested background that provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers. In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

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7 Motivational Tips

7 Motivational Tips to Survive in Sales

To make motivation a daily part of your life, you need practice and perseverance. Below are seven ways to stock your motivation toolbox. Use these tools daily to keep your spirits and goals on track.

  1. Accept where you are. By accepting your own abilities and working within your limitations, you can use valuable energy to create positive life changes. Someone once said, “Your circumstances don’t control you, they define you!” The way you are reflects the sum total of your choices to date.
  2. Dare to think in awesome dimensions. When you think about what you want to achieve, do you think of your self-proclaimed limits? Why stop where you stop? Try thinking in unusual or outrageous terms.
  3. Don’t dwell on defeat. When you give up in your mind, your mind gives up on you. Once this happens, the rest is downhill. Remember, there is no such thing as failure; there are only outcomes. If you don’t like your outcome, try changing your activity.
  4. Tap motivational resources. To counteract negative memories and thoughts, flood your mind with positive input every day by listening to motivational recordings – a podcast or audio book – while working out, on the drive home, on the road, or first thing when you wake up.
  5. Stay committed to your career goals. People have a tendency to be on the lookout for a better deal. Lack of personal career commitment is the greatest source of dissatisfaction with one’s profession. Get committed and learn to just say no to anything that doesn’t support your career purpose.
  6. Do not allow setbacks to control you. If you do, then your supporters may think that you don’t have the resolve to stick to your plans for success. When you face an inevitable disappointment, accept it as a learning experience and find creative ways to work through it. You can choose to react to a disappointment by seeking solace and quitting, thus weakening your ability to do something positive about it. Or, instead of shrinking from challenges, you can choose to learn, resolve to handle a similar situation differently the next time around, and grow.
  7. Never be intimidated. Most success is more perceived than real. It does no good to envy the possessions of others. There is a teaching in Buddhism: “People are not their stuff.” This means that if you take all of your elements, such as your pride, body, friends, money, status, position, job, and anything else you can think of that you normally use to define another, and remove them from yourself, the real you is left. You are as important as anyone else on the planet.

Remember this saying: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” You have to accept responsibility for getting what you want in your life. When you don’t like a situation, take action to change it. Waiting for someone else to make the changes you want decreases your motivation and ability to act. By waiting, you diminish yourself and your cause. Don’t just take notice, take action.

Author:

BY WILL ROBERTSON

https://www.sellingpower.com/

How to Stay Motivated and Enthusiastic

How to Stay Motivated and Enthusiastic

“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.”

– Gordon Parks –

Do you feel enthusiastic, motivated and energetic when starting something new, but after some time, you lose your enthusiasm and interest?

This can happen when practicing a self-improvement program, studying a new subject, dieting, exercising, or doing anything else.

Though you acknowledge the importance of what you are doing, know that it will help you, still, you let laziness set in, as well as lack of motivation, lack of enthusiasm, and lack of enough willpower.

This is quite common. After the first spurt of enthusiasm you feel that it is too much for you, too much work and too much effort, and you prefer to quit. You might even if that what you are doing is a burden.

You people who start practicing concentration exercises, meditation, self-discipline exercises, or any other program relating to self improvement expect immediate results. So with losing weight, earning money or learning a new skill. If they don’t experience immediate and spectacular results, they stop and give up.

Quitting is not the solution.

Everything in life requires some work, effort and time.

  • What to do when interest and enthusiasm wanes?
  • How to persevere when there isn’t enough willpower and self-discipline?
  • How to stay motivated when you lose enthusiasm?>

You might acknowledge that a certain goal or project are important, but there isn’t enough inner strength to pursue it. Isn’t it so?

Self-defeating habits, negative programming and lack of inner strength might stand on your way.

This is why people buy books, attend classes, courses, and workshops on a variety of subjects, and yet, find they are not making enough progress.

They discover that enthusiasm and hope are replaced by depression, self-pity and lack of self-esteem.

Often, after reading a book or an article, listening to a lecture or watching a movie, there is a burst of enthusiasm and a high energy level, but this often does not last long.

What can you do to stay motivated and enthusiastic?

Short spurts of enthusiasm or motivation are not enough to accomplish anything of value. You need to keep your desire and inner flame alive and focused on your goal. So what can you do about it?

You need some techniques to help you stay enthusiastic and motivated, so you go on and achieve what you have set your mind to do.

Want to plant seeds of success in your mind?

Learn to practice affirmations!

Affirmations can help you attract money, find love, build positive habits and more.

How to Stay Motivated and Enthusiastic – 9 Tips

  1. Think about the importance of your goal and what it means to you. Devote 10 minutes a day to reading and thinking about the benefits of what you want to do or accomplish.
  2. Every day, find at least a few minutes to read about people who achieved success by being tenacious and persistent. You can find many books and articles about this topic on the Internet and in bookstores.
  3. Find every day a quiet place, and for several minutes visualize yourself acting with enthusiasm and motivation. Make the mental scene as real as possible, and most importantly, in your imagination, feel enthusiastic. Feel the energy and the zest that are awakening within you.
  4. Do not give up easily. Continue with what you are doing, even if you have lost your enthusiasm. Put more focus and attention. Sometimes, continuing with your project with perseverance, reawakens energy, motivation and desire. Remember, every success requires dedication, time, perseverance and tenacity.
  5. There is a well known story about a gold prospector, who, after digging to some depth, did not find anything. He gave up and went away. Then, someone else came, and after digging just a few inches more, struck gold. You need to be patient and persistent, even if you see no progress, because success might be just a few inches away.
  6. Keep repeating affirmations that empower you and inflame your enthusiasm and motivation. For example, “My motivation and enthusiasm are growing more and more every day.” Here is another affirmation: “I have the energy, desire and persistence to continue with my plans.”
  7. Never regard what you are doing as drudgery. With a little thinking and few changes you can turn it into a pleasurable activity. Even the most boring task can become enjoyable with the right approach and state of mind.
  8. Once you decide about anything, go on with it, even after you lose enthusiasm and desire. Don’t give up, even if what you are doing seems to be like a burden and drudgery. Don’t give up, even if you feel bored.

    Keep thinking about the benefits of what you are doing, and visualize how it will be like after accomplishing what you have set out to do.
  9. Find a friend, or better still, a group of people who are enthusiastic about a shared topic, like losing weight, exercising, learning a new language or anything else that interests you. A group supports its members and keeps the motivation going.

Remember, this is your own life, and you are responsible for it. Why succumb to laziness and negative programming? This might not be easy, and there might be obstacles on the way, but it certainly is possible.

Keep thinking about how happy you would be after achieving success. Visualize how your life would change, if you overcome your laziness, negative thoughts and negative programming. Just keep your mind on the goal, no matter what.

Don’t rely on spurts of enthusiasm to carry you to your destination. You need to stand up, not give up, and awaken the dormant powers that are within you.

Never give up, but keep going on, even if the going is tough and you want to quit. Keep going, use affirmations and visualization, and soon your motivation, enthusiasm and energy will grow.

 

Want to Succeed in Whatever You Do? THINK POSITIVE!

Positive thinking is the way to success.

About the Author

Remez Sasson is the author and creator of Success Consciousness website. He is the author of books and articles that motivate and help people to improve their life, achieve success, gain inner strength and inner peace, and become more positive and happy.

 

$1.6 Trillion Is Lost Each Year Due to Poor Customer Service – What You Can Do to Stay out of This Statistic

$1.6 Trillion Is Lost Each Year Due to Poor Customer Service - What You Can Do to Stay out of This Statistic

A huge $1.6 trillion is lost every year due to poor customer service! This statistic is alarming, not just because of its massive scale, but also because it’s entirely avoidable. Poor customer service has many roots, but at its most basic, it comes down to failing to understand your customers and their needs. Are there some problem customers who will always be unhappy? Sure, there certainly are. However, these people make up a tiny minority of your customers.

Most of your customers are reasonable people who just want a good experience from your company. After all, you already did the hard part – you got them through the door and to the checkout. Now you just have to keep them happy! Easy, right? Ok, we know it’s more difficult than that, but we’re going to tell you exactly how to avoid losing money to poor customer service.

Customer Service Statistics You Must Know in 2020

Before we delve into how to offer excellent customer service, here are some customer statistics you should know. The purpose of highlighting these statistics is to remind ourselves why customer service is so important. Sometimes when we’re stuck in the day to day running of the business, we can forget to look at the bigger picture and remember to stay focused on the “why”. The consequences of poor customer service can be severe.

  • 90% of Americans consider customer service when deciding whether to buy from a company.
  • Acquiring new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing customers.
  • Almost 50% of Americans switched companies last year due to poor customer service.
  • Customers will spend 17% more on a company with excellent customer service.
  • Almost 80% of customers would recommend your company to their friends after a positive customer experience.
  • It takes 12 positive reviews to make up for 1 negative review!

How to Offer Great Customer Service

1.  Nail First Contact

First impressions are extremely powerful. Getting your first contact off to a good start can determine how the rest of the conversation goes. You need to make a good first impression to develop a good relationship with the customer. Here’s how agents can create a great first impression on the phone or messaging service.

  • Watch your tone: Without body language, you have to try harder to convey your tone. You want to appear friendly, approachable, and confident. Over the phone, be pleasant and polite, rather than excited (this may seem fake). Over a messaging service, use a smiley face emoji in your opening message.
  • Thank the customer for calling.
  • Tell the customer your name because it helps build that relationship. It also shows that you are accountable and dependable.
  • Ask how you can help.

2.  Actively Listen to Your Customers

Active listening is when you concentrate on, understand, respond, and remember what the customer is saying throughout the whole conversation. Active listening builds trust and rapport with customers. Agents will also be better equipped at solving problems if they fully understand the customer’s perspective. Here’s how you demonstrate active listening in customer service:

  • Give regular verbal feedback to the customer. If the customer is explaining their problem, show them you’re listening by saying “I see”, “go on”, “what happens next”, “That must be frustrating”.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let the customer explain their issue without interrupting them.
  • Repeat the customer’s problem back to them. This shows that you were paying attention and will also ensure that you’re both on the same page.
  • Ask relevant clarifying questions at appropriate times. Don’t try to rush the customer onto the next part where you find the answers you need to solve the problem. Ask questions when it seems natural.
  • Summarise their problem and suggest a solution.

3.  Empathize

When customers have a problem, they often feel confused, frustrated, and lost. They are looking at the customer service agents for help with their issues. Effectively showing empathy towards your customers will have a huge effect on shaping their experience. It’s simply human nature. We all want to feel validated and understood.

There are two types of empathy, affective empathy, and cognitive empathy. Affective empathy is when you sincerely “feel” for the other person, either through physical sensations or by becoming emotional. Cognitive empathy is when you understand someone else’s perspective and emotions. Affective empathy doesn’t play a significant role in customer service. After all, agents would find it difficult to do their job if they were constantly struck with negative emotions. It would be overwhelming. However, cognitive empathy plays a huge role in customer service and this is what we’re referring to when we say “empathy”. Agents must be able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand what they are feeling. Here are some phrases you can say to convey empathy:

“I understand how frustrating it is”

“I’m sorry to hear that”

“I will get this sorted for you”

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention”

“I’m going to pass your suggestion onto the relevant team to see if we can avoid this in the future”

It’s also a good idea to make the customer’s problem your own. Take ownership of the problem rather than treating it like some abstract issue that you are not responsible for. You may not be personally responsible, but your company is, and you represent the company.

4.  Provide Excellent Agent Training

Customer service agents are almost always positive people with great communication and problem-solving skills. However, there’s always some room for improvement. The customer service agent must know exactly how to respond to customers in a range of different scenarios. They must be able to keep calm under pressure or when they encounter a unique problem. They must always be polite, even when the customer is being rude.  The best way to ensure your agents are always their best is to provide excellent quality training. Training should also be updated and added to over time. Your agents should never be done learning.

5.  Utilize Automation

One of the major reasons customers have a bad customer experience is because they were waiting a long time to get help. Another major reason is that the agent was not adequately knowledgeable about the product to solve the issue. Automation can help greatly here!

You can use automation and AI in the form of chatbots to take the pressure off customer service staff. Some customers have a simple problem that needs a quick and straightforward answer. Chatbots are perfect for these customers. Why make these customers wait in a queue for longer than it would take to solve their problem? This will only make them more frustrated and dissatisfied with your company.

You can also use automation and AI to route customers through to the most appropriate agent. For example, an agent might have a lot of experience in one element of your product or service. There might be an agent which excels at fixing technique issues. Or an agent who’s great at calming down distressed customers. Whatever skill they have, you can ensure that they are matched with the customers who need them most. This is good for both agents and customers. Agents get to do what they excel at and feel that they are making a positive difference. Customers get the problem solved quickly and effectively.

6.  Be Solution Oriented

When customers contact your customer service team, they are looking for solutions. They have a problem, and it’s your job to fix it. You must offer solutions as quickly as possible and check that the customer is happy with the solution. You need to get the customer on board with how you want to fix things. Sure, you might know best. You know the product better than anyone! Even so, the customer has to be engaged with your solution otherwise they won’t be happy with the end result.

What is Bad Customer Service?

So, we’ve covered how to offer great customer service, but can you also spot what bad customer service is? This part is crucial to avoiding poor customer service experiences.

When You Get Bogged Down in Company Policy

Popular publication Business Insider ran a story about a large retail company that prioritized company policy over customer service. The customer found a product they wanted, but it was priced higher in the store than on the company’s website. The customer asked the agent to match the lower price and the company refused due to policy. This story then went viral and damaged the company’s reputation.

Company policies exist for a reason, but they shouldn’t be considered law. Agents should have the flexibility and autonomy to override company policies in situations where it might win the customer over or avoid damage to the company. If your agents are bound by restrictive and rigid policies, at some point they will frustrate customers.

Ignoring Feedback

Customers leave feedback for a reason. They’re not doing it because it’s their favorite hobby. They leave feedback to inspire action and inform other buyers. You should aim to respond to all customer complaints, whether that’s via your complaint form, on social media, or via reviews.

Lack of Initiative

It’s the agent’s job to provide a solution, not the customers. If your agents always wait for the customer to explicitly say what they want, then customers will be left feeling abandoned. Some customers know exactly what they want, but it’s still for the agent to weigh in and confidently suggest the most appropriate solution and explain why that solution will meet their needs.

Taking the initiative is also important when it comes to proactively responding to customers online. If someone tweets you an angry message about the issue they’re having with your product, don’t just send them a stock response. This will only anger them further. Instead, create a unique response every time and try to get to the bottom of the problem. Taking things offline is always a safe option, but equally don’t be afraid to talk to customers publically, if they’re comfortable with it. This is your chance to show off how great you are at solving problems.

Putting Customers on Hold for Too Long

No one likes to be kept waiting! There’s no good reason to ever place your customer on hold for several minutes unless it is explicitly agreed on with the customer. If the problem is going to take a long time to fix, then organize a time the agent can call the customer back. That way the customer can get on with their day instead of waiting aimlessly.

Using Negative Language

Agents should be upbeat, friendly, confident, and polite. If agents use negative language, sound unsure, argue back with the customer, or suggest it’s the customer’s fault, then the customer will be left unhappy.

Transferring Calls Too Many Times

Customers shouldn’t be passed from agent to agent. This is especially true if you don’t have an omnichannel platform with integrated AI that will carry the customer’s ticket details through the chain of agents. If the customer has to explain their issue multiple times, they will become dejected, frustrated, and feel hopeless. Don’t let this happen!

Author:

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30 Customer Service Tips

30 Customer Service Tips

In this guide, you’ll learn 30 original customer service tips to step up your customer support in 2020.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to provide exceptional customer service. These are real-life tips to double your customer loyalty and customer retention rates!

Did you know that companies across America lose $75 billion every year due to poor customer service?

So it’s fair to assume:

  • Businesses that don’t pay attention to poor customer service are going to struggle in 2020.
  • World-class customer service spikes and sustains customer loyalty and customer retention rates. Thus, improving your customer reviews and ratings.
  • Exceptional customer service training will be a game-changer for both small business owners/enterprises.
  • Top-notch customer service skills will be invaluable to customer support managers.

These four reasons are why right now is the perfect time to revisit your customer service strategy.

Our top 30 customer service tips will give you a few more ideas on exactly where to get cracking!

30 Customer Service Tips Backed by World-Class Support Teams:

  1.  Treat Your Customers like Gold. The Service Issue is Secondary

Successful reps know that shoppers/customers aren’t chasing immediate resolution. They love it when:

  • The customer service representative is kind and empathetic
  • Reps are transparent and offer genuine steps to resolve the issue vs. actual resolution time
  • Agents go above and beyond to offer personalized customer service

The WRONG way: Taking things personally

The customer sees you as an extension of your company. Unhappy customers may make abrasive remarks. They aren’t attacking you; they’re in response to a situation.

The RIGHT way: You don’t argue/compete, you smile and help instead

Focus on understanding the customer’s problem and creating a positive interaction. Besides, getting defensive isn’t the most productive use of your time here.

But, our top 30 tips won’t be useful unless you hire the right kind of people for your Customer Support team.

2. Personalization Goes Beyond First Names

“The golden rule for every business — put yourself in your customer’s place!” ~ Orison Swett Marden, Founder, Success Magazine

A personal touch is the best way to let your prospects know that they are a priority. When you talk to a customer, remember their name and use it throughout the conversation.

To show that you’re listening, mention something they said earlier. Your regulars will appreciate this personalization and will likely rave about your company.

The WRONG way: Not valuing your customer’s time

Your customer has a busy life, just like you do. Keep that in mind, especially when you’re initiating contact with unhappy customers. Here’s an example.

  • GOOD: “I’ll have this issue fixed for you soon. I can give you a call around noon tomorrow with an update. Or would you prefer an email?”
  • BAD: “I’ll have this issue fixed soon. You’ll receive an email update in 1-2 business days.”

In the good example, you’re inviting the customer to either suggest a different time or opt for an email. This personal touch allows the customer some control over when you intrude on their day.

In the bad example, you’re not allowing the customer any control over when or how they receive an update. Worse yet, you’re telling them they might have to wait two days.

The RIGHT way: Remember your customer’s name

This seems pretty obvious, but it still doesn’t happen as often as it should. No one wants to hear “Sir” or “Ma’am” (or worse yet, “Madam”).

Being professional and being friendly are not mutually exclusive. So, make it a point to remember and address your customers by their name.

Related: Why Your Customers Aren’t Giving You Referrals

3. Lead with Positive Language and Reaction

It’s all about how you say things. Even if you’re delivering bad news, there is a way to sugar coat it for consumers. If you’re levelheaded and serious, they will calm down as well.

Think about when a customer is looking for an out-of-stock item. Sometimes, they become irate when they find out that a store doesn’t have what they needed.

Rather than saying, “we don’t have that part/product right now,” turn it into a productive solution. Instead say: “It will be available next week. What is the best way to contact you once it arrives?”

Do you see the difference? The first response is dismissive and does not offer a solution. But, the second is informative, confident, and proactive.

The WRONG way: Stating facts

The customer wants to change her service package, but you can’t make the change until tomorrow. Your initial response is to give the customer the facts: “I can’t change this today. I won’t be able to do it until tomorrow.”

Below is an example of T-Mobile Austria admitting to storing passwords (sort of). They were quick to state facts about password storage, but their delivery doesn’t cut it.

The RIGHT way: Setting expectations

Take a quick moment to get rid of the negative words (can’t, won’t) and instead, tell the customer what you can do.

“I’m happy to make that change for you first thing tomorrow morning.” It only takes a split second to reword your response and use positive language. This is a great opportunity to let your customer service skills shine through!

4. Let Customers “Discover” Solutions

If your product is tactile, make it easier for customers to discover what your product can do. If it’s more conceptual, walk them through a demo and pause for questions.

Also, send any extra onboarding material you that may. FAQs, videos or a recording your demo will do!

A help desk or live chat tool are other ways you can keep supporting your customers across channels.

The WRONG way: Ignoring in-product onboarding

Appcues data on how user retention rates drop with time.

A lot of small business owners tend to ignore the importance of having in-product prompts. While the “build first, then improve” works, you may have a leaky bucket if your product isn’t sticky.

Take this example from Appcues. According to them, you lose ~75% of your new users within the first week. Imagine how you could spike your customer retention rates with clear onboarding then!

The RIGHT way: Having a strong knowledge base

Asana does a great job of showing users helpful annotations. They also have a comprehensive knowledge base to guide current and prospective customers.

You’ll see upsell opportunities tucked into the product without that “in-your-face” feeling. Users can browse general help topics and search for more in-depth solutions.

Want access to 100 customer service statistics that we collected this quarter? PS. It’s not gated!

5. Use Easy Feedback Templates

Most customers dislike surveys especially those that involve logging into an online portal. As much as customers love to rate your products and services, they won’t do any extra work for it.

Yet, you need their feedback to improve your customer insights.

One way to get customer feedback is by sending emails with a link to a survey. Customers are more likely to complete studies when there is a link right in front of them to click. You’ve also got to make sure you’re asking the right questions. Another workaround could be checking off the “Include form in email” option.

Source: Make Tech Easier

The WRONG way: Using a complex survey/Making it hard to give feedback

Be sure that surveys are also short, sweet, and to the point. These should take less than five minutes for customers to complete. Any longer and you risk customer disengagement or a lot of incomplete surveys.

The RIGHT way: A short survey + incentives

It’s also important to offer incentives to customers who choose to complete a survey. For example, Starbucks offers ten stars as an incentive for customers on completion. Or look at this Taco Bell example below.

They enter you in a sweepstake in exchange for filling out their survey.

Related: Why You Need a Customer Reviews Strategy in 2019

6. Address Problems Right Away

Addressing a horde of complaints or negative comments seems overwhelming. But, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. There are ways of dealing with hold-ups, even if you have to tell your customers you don’t know the answer.

The WRONG way: Assuming there are only bad questions

Imagine your customer points out a flaw in your company’s process or a problem with a product.

Instead of getting frustrated by how redundant or simple the question may be, offer to solve it. Remember that your customers didn’t have the same training you did.

So, in their defense, there are no bad questions. That’s the mindset your customer service team should be in before starting their shifts.

The RIGHT way: Put yourself in their shoes

  • Acknowledge the customer’s issue – even if you think the mistake might be on the customer’s side. Be sure the customer knows you’ve heard and understood the issue.
  • If you can solve the problem right away, do it. The old quote is famous for a reason. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
  • If you can’t solve the problem immediately, tell your customer when you can solve it. When they know you’re working on a solution, even if it’s behind the scenes, it will bump up customer satisfaction.

Related: Why Collaboration Only Happens With A Customer-Centric Culture

7. Give Your People Power

The biggest complaint from customer service agents is their inability to solve problems due to company restrictions or policies. Customer service professionals understand that their primary function is to handle complaints.

But, they also need to be in a position to go above and beyond with their service. If they can’t hand out offers or incentives, that’s bound to be frustrating.

The WRONG way: Holding back your employees in the name of regulations

Negative experiences daily also lead to high turnover rates. This then increases customer service training costs, decreases productivity, and thus, reduces revenue. If your customer service team can make offers that don’t cost you much, then why not give them that power?

The RIGHT way: Letting your people go the extra mile

Ritz-Carlton is a near-perfect example of employee empowerment. Each employee may spend up to $2,000 per guest/per day to solve problems and meet their customers’ needs. Read that again – $2,000 per guest per day!

This means the Ritz-Carlton staff don’t need to “ask a manager” or “get permission” to make things right. When they see a problem, they can address it on the spot. This is a major reason Ritz-Carlton has such a sterling customer service reputation.

8. The Best Time to Reply was Yesterday

Never underestimate the importance of “showing up early,” or quick replies to customers. Again, although a customer’s complaint may not be a priority, it’s important to understand that it’s #1 for them.

The WRONG way: Waiting on resolving the issue before responding 

Even if you respond to the customer to saying you’ve received the message and are working on it, this goes a long way.

Responding within business hours is always the best practice. If the problem is easy to fix, that’s even better. Don’t put it off. You could miss out on making another sale right then and there.

The RIGHT way: Clear KPIs

Your KPIs should be specific and measurable. “We answer calls as soon as possible,” or “Email responses in order of receipt,” are a no-go!

Set KPIs like, “Answer calls within 20 seconds,” and “Process emails within 2-hours of receipt.”

Publish your customer service KPIs within the company and hold your team accountable. If you really want to wow your customers – share your KPIs with them too. Post them on your website so your customers know what they may expect.

9. Pay More Attention to Your Tone

Whether it’s to emails or chats, your tone and how you respond is even more important than with an in-person chat.

A good rule of thumb is to craft a written message, reread it and pay attention to tone and copy twice. Read it at least twice because you can only hit SEND once!

The WRONG way: Dismissing your customers

If a customer service agent has a forceful or dismissive way of speaking, that can escalate fast. Practice active listening and figure out a plan to help customers right then and there.

The RIGHT way: Would I talk to my grandma like this?

Here’s an old customer service trick that will you with your tone. And this goes for phone calls, emails, chats or any customer interaction. Before you speak (or write) in a snippy way, ask yourself, “Would I talk to my grandma like this?”

10. Choose the Right Reputation Management Tools

We recently compiled a list of the best customer service examples (good and bad). The #1 thing that stands out here is how powerful your customers are on social.

Those customer posts online can sometimes make or break your reputation. Most reputation management tools help you track online mentions — both social and otherwise. Here are Search Engine Land’s top 8 online reputation management tools you may want to check out.

The WRONG way: Being on the defensive

When an unhappy customer reaches out with an issue, the last thing you want to do is provoke them even more. For example, when a Dark Horse Espresso customer tweeted about their electrical outlets..

They didn’t take it well.

The RIGHT way: Offer help no matter what

If there are persistent, then contact the customer directly and try to find a solution. If you reach out and offer a handful of solutions, and the customer still isn’t happy, then you have done all you can.

At the very least, the customer can look upon your attempt as a good faith effort.

11. Take Control of First Impressions

It’s easy to lose touch with what customer interactions are like if you’re a CEO or manager so, check in often.

Don’t wait for these red flags —

  • Your reps are always blaming customers
  • You notice your reps ignoring customer requests

The WRONG way: First impressions are for long-term retention

If you ignore first impressions, you’re already hurting your retention rates. When that’s not clear, your customer service reps may take shortcuts or not be their best selves.

For example, this research from TARP Worldwide shows you what increases customer retention.

The RIGHT way: Focus on body language and presentation

Body language, smiling (even if you’re on the phone,) and a warm greeting are all key. But it doesn’t stop there. Read more about first impressions here.

12. Build Easy-to-use Help Centers

Redundancy destroys morale, and your customer service team is no different. If they have to solve the same problem day in and day out, they are bound to burn out.

81% of customers attempt to troubleshoot before reaching out to a live representative. So, the most obvious route here is to build in self-service options for your customers.

But, also make it easy for them to get in touch if they hit a roadblock.

The WRONG way: Force customers to do something that will take you less time to do

Imagine you called your Internet Service Provider asking about connectivity issues. Instead of looking up all your details based on your customer ID, what if they asked you to send an email?

You’d have to dig up your ID, plan, current speed/bandwidth, etc. and then expect a resolution.

The RIGHT way: Create a clean and easy-to-find help center

Source: Wistia

If you take Wistia’s help center example, you’ll see that they have:

  • Only the most essential navigation options
  • A prominent search bar
  • Visible buckets of help center guides
  • A Clear CTA to reach Sales or Support
  • The Wistia application status update

They make it very easy for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for with their optimized UI.

13. Drop the Fine Print

This may be an unrealistic task for some businesses. But the last thing you want is for your customers to feel duped.

When your customers nitpick on, say, the legalities of your contracts, don’t ask them to read the fine print. You can be sure that they think you’re trying to hide something.

The WRONG way: Not being upfront about clauses

Depending on your industry, there are various provisions that you may need to add in a sales contract:

  • Warranties (Express and Implied)
  • Breach of Contract
  • Confidentiality
  • Severability

Based on your meetings with the customers, point these out if they seem concerned about any one topic. Should they sign the contract and later cancel because you weren’t up front, that’s on you.

The RIGHT way: Make it easy for customer to review your policies

Source: UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey

Especially with e-commerce transactions, 68% of customers review the return policy before they buy. Want fewer customer service inquiries?

Make sure shoppers can navigate your policy pages and find relevant information.

Check out the 2020 Business Communication Report

Actionable insights from 1,000+ professionals.Get It

14. Use Automation ONLY Where it Makes Sense

Everyone’s talking about automation in 2020. But customer service? You can’t automate that. At least, not every part of it!

The WRONG way: Letting your chatbot do all the work

Here’s an excellent example of why your chatbots might not always work. It’s cases like these when you need a secondary option for your customers to get in touch.

Source: UX Collective

Most chatbots today don’t have this escalation protocol according to UX Collective. This page is hilarious, BTW.

The RIGHT way: Automate the back-end process

Instead of automating customer interactions, try automating how your team collaborates. Most new helpdesks let customer service agents:

  • Work on the same ticket at the same time
  • Send auto-updates of open and close cases
  • See updates within in-product chats

15. Gauge the “Last Impression”

Once you close a customer service ticket or a sale, think about your CSAT surveys for a second.

  • Do your surveys create more “wow” moments?
  • Are you sending these surveys segmented by customer responses?
  • Do you follow up on bad customer reviews/survey responses

The WRONG way: Forgetting about the customer after closing the customer support ticket

This is a missed opportunity! There are plenty of tools in that market that let you nudge your happy customers to leave a review for you. Take Advocate for example.

It connects with your Net Promoter Score tool and sends a note to your customer asking for a review.

Advocately connects with your NPS tool and also sends updates each time a customer leaves a review.

The RIGHT way: Use your post-sale/service surveys to introduce new features

In business, people rarely complain about “too much customer service” or follow up. And, NPS and CSAT surveys aren’t restricted to online transactions.

Apple, for example, sends a detailed survey after every in-store sale. What’s smart about this is that they use it also to introduce new features/offers that may not have known about:

16. Ditch the Production-Line Type Customer Service

People tend to hold onto bad memories than the good ones. Research backs this up too.

That puts customer service agents in a tricky spot, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

The WRONG way: Making your customers repeat their issue

Most dated customer service organizations follow a production line type of support. So, once you escalate issues, you’ll find yourself repeating things to different reps.

Doing this is only going to reinforce the customer’s frustration.

The RIGHT way: Combine forces in customer support

The best way to save time for you and your customer? Adopt customer service software that lets you collaborate on the same ticket. No more one-ticket, one-rep.

Nextiva’s Customer Service CRM is a good example of this type of internal chat between agents.

17. Create a User Community to Drive Adoption

Most businesses believe community management ends with social media. We’ve all seen Twitter handles with one-sided Q&As and AMAs. What are they doing wrong here?

The WRONG way: Having no focus with your social media community

CMX recently released a report Community Value and Metrics where they answer these:

  • What should your community do?
  • How do you know your community is working?
  • Is your community driving the top line?

Most online user communities start without this kind of focus. Thus, you get little customer engagement whatsoever.

The RIGHT way: Combine support, advocacy, and product feedback

Source: CMX

26% of the companies use their community for customer support/success based on the report. Advocacy and acquisition are second to this.

For example, OptinMonster’s onboarding nudges new users to join their Facebook user community. They’ve identified that their top priority here is conversations around conversions.

Source: OptinMonster

This kind of a laser-sharp focus drove almost 2000 active members to their user community.

18. Want to Work on Your Empathy? Read More Fiction

You read it right. Reading fiction makes you a nicer person according to studies.

Heck! Even Barack Obama explained that reading fiction made him a better leader.

The WRONG way: Not teaching empathy in your customer service training

We’ve all been there with a customer service representative. They:

  • Run through a script with no emotion whatsoever
  • Bounce you around to other reps
  • Ask you to repeat everything. Over and over again
  • Don’t take responsibility or offer an apology

The RIGHT way: You can’t teach empathy, but you can try!

“We want our customers to feel like they we have their back. That’s in our philosophy.” ~ Oscar Tobar, Lead, Global Customer Support at Culture Amp.

“We want to be there for them in the platform and meet them where they are before they come to us.” Watch this video below to learn more about Culture Amp’s approach to empathy in support.

19. Don’t be Frugal with Your Thank Yous

How often do you send personalized notes to customers? Do you remember their birthdays? How about when they first bought your product and have been a repeat customer since?

The easiest way to get your shoppers to buy more and refer you is making time to say thank you. It’s that simple! The how is what makes all the difference.

The WRONG way: Saying thank you with strings attached

Saying thank you is not complicated. But, you can complicate things when you push for that “social share” or referral in return for your gesture.

The RIGHT way: Get creative! Find little moments to say thank you

There are several fun ways to say thank you:

  • Personalized videos
  • Discounts
  • Hand-written notes
  • Meeting customers in person
  • Giving them a shout-out on social media

John’s Crazy Socks, for example, sends a thank you note with every sock order!

Source: Twitter

20. Have a Separate Social Media Customer Service Process

Throughout this post, we’ve emphasized using social media to drive new sales. So, if you’re still stuck doing only post-sale customer support on social, you’re missing out.

The WRONG way: Trying to cram both support and brand on your official company handle

If that is the case, your support reps, PR manager, community manager, and QA all need access to your Twitter.

You’re also going to get all kinds of tweets — refunds, billing, shipping, brand mentions. Phew! Imagine the chaos.

The RIGHT way: Steal Spotify’s social media support strategy

Here are the top five customer service tips you can borrow from Spotify:

  • Create a dedicated Twitter handle for all customer support questions and help.
  • Offer specific instructions to your customers. For example, “For tech queries, let us know your device/operating system. And for payment queries, drop us a DM!” says Spotify.
  • Weave in your product/service (in a cheeky way!). Spotify does this when they reply with a playlist.
  • Only let trained customer service agents reply on social media. Even consider having writing tests like Spotify does!
  • Document this process, so all your social media support reps know exactly what to do and when.

21. Ramp Up Your Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs or rewards programs are quite common in e-commerce businesses. In simple terms, these programs offer incentives to repeat/loyal customers.

They bump up your bottom line in many ways:

  • Spike customer retention rates
  • Improve referrals
  • Decrease payback period
  • Prolong customer lifetime value
  • Drive product/service adoption

The WRONG way: Your point-based loyalty program is confusing

Point-based programs have been around for a while, but if you see engagement dropping, this is why:

  • You’ve added new rules and conditions that are hard to understand
  • It takes a long while to rack up points and hence, rewards
  • You don’t have smaller milestones and incentives to keep users engaged

The RIGHT way: Create a dedicated page explaining the loyalty program

Source: Parachute Coffee

For example, Parachute Coffee has this dedicated page. They’ve described all the reward program in a step-by-step manner.

Their navigation is simple and doesn’t distract. You’ll also see CTAs spread out through the page. The home page banner, too, has relevant information on shipping details in this case

22. Fast Service May Not Always Be Ideal

It’s true we keep touting how much speed and fast replies matter in customer service. But..if that’s your only focus, you’re compromising on other customer service metrics.

The WRONG way: Measuring speed because it’s easy

Seth Godin calls this the False Proxy Trap. Seth explains this is why TV advertisers measure how many people saw an ad as opposed to how it affected them.

It’s the same within customer service too. Measuring the speed of service is easier than measuring customer satisfaction.

The RIGHT way: Define your goal and focus on measuring that

Say, your goal is to measure customer engagement, then tracking these might be helpful:

  • Activity time (on the app/service)
  • Visit frequency (daily/monthly etc.)
  • Core user actions

23. Decide What Metrics Matter More: Operational vs. Organizational

It’s important to try and measure metrics that matter most to your team. Or it’ll be data galore with little time make adjustments based on all the data you’ve tracked.

The WRONG way: Letting operational customer service metrics outweigh the organizational metrics

In this scenario, you’re obsessed with:

  • Ticket count
  • First response time
  • Resolution time
  • Tickets closed
  • Touchpoints per ticket

The RIGHT way: Let your organizational metrics guide everything else

Source: Geckoboard

So, here your primary focus is on:

  • Net Promoter Score
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • New upsells and cross-sells
  • Customer churn

Related: Digital Transformation Is Over: The Digital Normal Is Already Here!

24. Move From Reactive to Proactive Customer Service

The best customer service tips show you how to identify issues and preempt them.

The WRONG way: Covering up service issues

Uber’s data breach is the perfect example here. Instead of offering security measures to customers, Uber chose to be discreet.

Until..

VintageWingnutAtHome (Monica)

@vintagewingnut

Just closed my Uber account. Uber sent me an email asking me why.

THREE WORDS:

Data. Breach. Cover-Up.#Uber #UberHack #ShareSomeGreatNews

9

3:19 PM – Nov 22, 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

See VintageWingnutAtHome (Monica)’s other Tweets

The RIGHT way: Take control of all your customer service issues

Slack’s example here, speaks for itself. They took the initiative to clarify what’s going on, when they’ll resolve it, and that they’re working on it.

Slack

@SlackHQ

We are working on an issue where private channels and direct messages  are missing from the quick-switcher, and the channel sidebar. Sorry for  the trouble! We’ll keep you posted on the situation here: 

https://

status.slack.com

 

. Thanks for sticking with us

Slack System Status

Resources for real-time and historical information about the Slack service.

status.slack.com

34

2:12 PM – Dec 1, 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

See Slack’s other Tweets

 

25. Keep Improving Your Customer Service Skills

Most managers actively look for customer service skills before they hire. But ongoing customer service training falls on the rep as much as it does on the company.

The WRONG way: Ignoring ongoing customer service training

This is pretty self-explanatory this far into our top customer service tips. Most aspects of customer service are people-oriented. So, not honing these skills are going to hold you back from building a good rapport.

The RIGHT way: Have company-wide/personal upskilling sessions

This is easier if your customer service department enables ongoing training. If not, take it yourself to check your:

  • Communication
  • Attentiveness
  • Patience
  • Product knowledge
  • Time management and more

26. Gamify Customer Service (OR Incentivize Good Performance)

Gamification in customer service improves:

  • End-to-end employee engagement
  • Transparency
  • Feedback
  • Training best practices
  • Peer recognition and more

The WRONG way: Making it too competitive

It’s in cases like these that you can imagine reps robotically check off tasks for incentives. This goes against the core goal of such programs.

You’ll start finding your reps gaming the system vs. benefiting from these programs.

The RIGHT way: Nail your gamification metrics and incentive/recognition

The metrics you track can be anything from CSAT and upsells to first response times or close times.

Another aspect to cover is how/what your incentives here are. The usual suspects are features in company newsletters or redeemable karma points. You can get creative here!

27. It’s Okay to Say You Don’t Know (But Offer Alternatives)

If you were to give an outright “No” to a customer’s question, that diminishes the value of your service. Of course, you won’t always know the answers, but, it’s a 100% about how you manage the “No.”

The WRONG way: Offering a bland “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

Imagine saying this, and you have the customer give you a blank stare. If you don’t offer to be helpful to a customer in need, that only frustrates them more. Thus, making your job harder.

The RIGHT way: Focus on alternatives

  • “That’s a great question. I want to be sure I give you the right answer, so I need to double check with someone. Can I call you back?”
  • “Before I answer your question, I need to check a few things on my side. Can I follow-up with you later today?”
  • “My colleague is an expert in that area. Could you hold just a moment while I check with him?”

28. Re-engage Your Old Customers

By now you know that the cost of retaining current customers are lesser acquiring new ones.

But, why do we then do such a poor job of engaging with the current customer base?

The WRONG way: Trying to upsell without context

You can mess this up a number ways:

  • Upselling when they haven’t been an active user
  • Pushing them to buy a product they don’t need
  • Offering discounts on a service you know they will churn from
  • Expecting them to reply just because you’ve reached out X number of times

The RIGHT way: Combine your upsells with tip #19

Remember how we spoke about not being frugal with your thank yous? Well, imagine you were good at maintaining a personal relationship with a customer.

How easy would it be for you also to track their activity within your product and then offer to unlock a new feature?

This way, they know:

  • You care about their success
  • They can get more from your product but without strings attached
  • You have earned their trust with the rapport you built
  • There is data to show that the upgrade will add value and has context

A good example here is Amazon and how they show you other accessories that you could get with your current buy. Here, when you search for a Drybar hair dryer, they show that other buyers also bought these items with it.

Source: Amazon.com

This is a good way to get a buyer to consider adding these options before they check out. Because, if you got a hair dryer, chances are you need a round brush too, right?

29. Arguing Never Led to Anything Good

The example we have is a good one! So let’s jump right to it.

The WRONG way: Arguing. Period.

The last thing you want to do is argue with an already frustrated customer. And if you do end up unleashing the rage (please don’t!), Twitter’s definitely not the right place.

Look at this example below. This customer service rep/community manager is asking for trouble with that tweet.

Source: Digital Marketing Institute

The RIGHT way: Diffuse tension with humor

So, smartUSA got this tweet: “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it.”

To which they replied:

Official smart USA

@smartcarusa

Replying to @adtothebone

Couldn’t have been one bird, @adtothebone. Sounds more like 4.5 million. (Seriously, we did the math.)

469

5:48 PM – Jun 19, 2012

Twitter Ads info and privacy

586 people are talking about this

Well, you can’t beat science, now, can ya?

30. Try Event-triggered Customer Service Tips

Ever thought of combining those cart abandonment emails to actual customer service touchpoints?

You have plenty of opportunities to touch base with customers along a buyer’s journey. Here are a few common examples:

  • Series of follow-up emails about how to use a product after a new sale
  • Cross-sell emails/follow-ups like the Amazon example above
  • A time-based email pushing to replenish a product they may have bought earlier
  • Countdown messages, say, for a delivery

The WRONG way: Overwhelming your customers with overlapping communications

This is where unifying your marketing and customer service comes in handy. These scenarios we described above could be marketing messages too.

Unify your communication not to have overlapping pushes to customers from both departments. If you do, that’s a shortcut to an unsubscribe.

The RIGHT way: Start by mapping your customer journey

Once you map this out, you then have more clarity on where you can reach out to customers and how. For example, how about you replace your cancellation survey with other options too?

Source: YesInsights

This way, you’re not only getting churn but more data to improve your product. You might even win multiple customer service awards like Nextiva.

Want a better business phone service for your customer support team? Try Nextiva!See How

Gaetano DiNardi

Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva and has a track record of success working with brands like Major League Baseball, Pipedrive, Sales Hacker and Outreach.io. Outside of marketing, Gaetano is an accomplished music producer and songwriter – he’s worked with major artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy and loves making music to stay turbocharged. To get in touch, follow him on LinkedIn.

The Key to New Leads

The Key to New Leads Every Month

There’s a rampant problem in the real estate industry right now…  

According to the NAR 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 89% of home buyers and 85% of home sellers said they would at least “probably use their agent again” or “recommend them to others.” And yet, few followed through: only 12% of home buyers and 23% of home sellers used an agent they had worked with in the past to buy or sell a home.

Moreover, the typical seller has recommended their agent twice since selling their home. A full one-third of them have even recommended their agent three or more times! But has your business doubled or tripled? If your clients are making all these referrals, why aren’t people reaching out to you left and right? 

Why are we losing all this sphere-of-influence business?

The simple answer is because we’re not doing a good enough job of showing our value. Many agents think that providing a good service once is all they need to earn repeat and referral business, but the truth is, it’s not even close to enough. Massive companies likeCoca-Cola still spend massive sums on advertising… even though its product is so well known that an entire region of the U.S. uses the moniker “Coke” to refer to soda in general!

Let’s think about this in terms of real estate. The latest studies tell us it might take up to ten years before a client is ready to buy or sell their home again… can you really say that you’re staying in contact with your past clients consistently over that time?

And for referrals: a Consumer Insights Survey by Google said that 2 in 3 real estate searchers researched prospective agents online prior to working with them… when your client referred you to their friend or family member, and that person looked you up online, was what they found good enough to convince them to reach out? Statistically speaking, probably not.

While we certainly don’t need a marketing engine on par with the big brands like Coca-Cola, we do need to consistently and constantly demonstrate our character and competence. This is called “omnipresent marketing,” and it’s a fancy way of saying “staying top of mind.” 

This campaign is an easy, practically done-for-you way to stay top of mind with your database. Executed successfully, it will keep you in touch with your sphere and give them the tools they need to refer you. 

5-Step Marketing Campaign: How to Use the “Monthly Value Program”

In simplest terms, theMonthly Value Program campaign works like this: You choose a topic that would be interesting and engaging for your network. You create pieces of value around that topic, and get it in front of your network through a variety of channels: 

  • Publish useful real estate info using a blog or website

  • Send the info to people you know (and have an email address for)

  • Share a 1-minute video (post on FB and promote for $1 a Day)

  • Post info on social media (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn Pinterest, etc.)

  • Individual messaging follow-up using messaging apps (like FB Messenger)

The campaign process ends up looking something like this:

The key to successfully executing this campaign is to  implement it consistently throughout the month. 

Check out the example of our March Calendar below: 

Example Theme for March 

Each month, you should  create campaigns around a theme that would pique the interest of anyone thinking about real estate. 

We provide these monthly campaigns as part of our Marketing Club Membership, and our theme for March covered Home Design Trends. 

More specifically, it talks about the home design trends in the new decade that will keep your home at the top of its market (even if you’re not planning to sell anytime soon). 

Sellers who make tasteful updates can generate increased buyer interest and, in some cases, a premium selling price. And buyers should consider which features of a home will need updating immediately (or in the near future) so they can factor renovation costs into their overall budget.. 

Example of one of the social media images included in the campaign collateral 

Check out an excerpt of the March Blog Post below: 

 
 

2. IN: Cozy / OUT: Cold

Designers are moving away from cool grays, industrial finishes, and stark modernism. In 2020, there’s a big emphasis on creating warm and cozy spaces through color, texture, and shape.

Gray has dominated the color palette for the past decade. This year, expect to see a move toward warmer neutrals, earth tones, and nature-inspired shades of blue and green. Warm metals, like gold and brass, will also continue to trend. And hardwood floors are heating up, as cool gray and whitewashed finishes fade in popularity. Expect to see a rise in classic choices like walnut, mahogany, and oak in richer and darker tones.

Furniture will also get cozier—and curvier—in 2020. From rounded sofas and curved-back chairs to oval dining tables, softened-angles are dominating the furniture scene right now. And designers expect softly-textured fabrics—like velvet, shearling, and mohair—to be big this year, as homeowners strive to add a touch of “hygge” (the Danish concept of calming comfort).

Want to warm up your home decor? Try one of the top paint colors for 2020: Benjamin Moore’s First Light (soft pink), Sherwin Williams’s Naval (rich blue), or Behr’s Back to Nature (light green).

 

Example Social Media Image/Post

Example Facebook image & post

Is your home’s interior ready for a refresh? Check out my latest blog post, where I share five design trends to bring your home into the new decade.

Then call or message me to schedule a complimentary consultation. I can help you determine which updates and upgrades will add the most VALUE to your home—and share my recommendations for stores and service providers to help you get started. 

And if you’re ready for a REALLY fresh start, maybe a new home is what you need. I can help with that, too! 😉

→ [insert link to blog post]

Advanced Tips 

Be Flexible. 

One of the most powerful aspects of these campaigns is their flexibility. Using the collateral we suggested earlier, you can do almost anything you can imagine to reach your customers where they are! 

For Marketing Club members, we provide a list of variations you can take with the various campaign components, making it easier for you to find the best one that works with your own database. 

Stay Consistent. 

Set up your Calendar to remind you each month when a new campaign is available. Then set up reminders on each of the day’s you’re supposed to implement part of the campaign. This will prevent you from forgetting and falling behind, and it will also remind you to stay consistent! 

The more consistent you are with following through on the implementation, the better and more positive results you’ll get! 

Use Video. 

Don’t be afraid to add some videos when implementing the campaign! Videos are great for Facebook and Instagram, and even short videos can be fun and informative to add to emails or text messages when reaching out to your database. 

Try and record a quick 60-second recap of your blog post each month to add to Instagram or Facebook (with a link to your blog). 

Author:
https://thepaperlessagent.com/

Sarah Dibiasi

 

Where to Get the March Marketing Campaign (Plus new campaigns, every month!) 

You can get the featured campaign and more by joining our Marketing Club! 

Each month we release a new marketing campaign to members of our Marketing Club. We call it our “Monthly Value Program” or “MVP”. 

Each MVP contains all the marketing you need for the month done for you, including:

  • Blog Post on a topic of relevance to anyone interested in real estate
  • A professionally-designed, customizable Report on the same topic
    • Powerpoint version
    • Keynote version
    • PDF version
  • LinkedIn Post, which is a condensed version of the blog post
    • Also has instructions for publishing a post to LinkedIn
  • Marketing Calendar of activities to ensure you implement the campaign fully
  • Social Media Image for you to use on Facebook or in your blog post
    • 2 Facebook post examples, a video prompt, and 2 different image options
  • An Instagram Image
  • Pinterest Image
  • LinkedIn Image
  • Support File, which contains
    • The Cover Email Template
    • The Phone Script
    • The copy for the Social Media Posts

The Marketing Club is $67/month, but for a limited time we’re offering a two week FREE trial!

Try the Club out for two weeks, and you’ll get the entire March campaign that we went over in this blog, including: 

  • Support file with all the information you’ll need to help you implement the March campaign
  • Training library FULL of real estate technology training, resources, and templates
  •  Website for your blog post
  • Access to Members-Only training every 1st and 3rd Wednesday
  • Priority support
  • So. much. more. 

Top 3 Listing Scripts For 2020

Top 3 Listing Scripts for 2020

How many real estate listing appointments have you been on in the past month? How many did you close?

For most of us, it’s crucial that we nail each and every listing appointment we get.

At Creath Partners, our associated brokerage, co-owner and listing expert agent, Garry Creath, used to go on a listing appointment every day, six days per week. He and his business partner maintained between 50 and 75 active listings at any given time.

During that time, Garry perfected the scripts he used through continuous testing and improvement. And now, he’s revealing exactly what he said to win those new listings, over and over again!

Out of all of Garry’s scripts, we picked the top 3 to share with all of you (plus a special bonus).

 Script 1: Closing the Deal 

At the end of the listing appointment is where a lot of Agents start to fall off of…

It’s not enough to just have a killer listing presentation, you also need to closing script that leaves your prospective clients with the memory of how competent you are and exactly how you’ll sell their home. 

This script provides exactly what to say AFTER the listing appointment when it’s time to make the agreement and get your prospective client to sign on the dotted line.

For what to do DURING the listing appointment, check out our blog post on Your 2020 Listing Presentation.  

PRO TIP: Use the information from this blog in conjunction with what we gave you in the blog “Your 2020 Listing Presentation” and really SHINE on your next listing appointment! 

Script 2: Expired Listing 

As real estate agents, we are often taught to reach out to expired listings in the MLS as a way to prospect for clients.

You may have even been given this script in the past, “Hey I saw that your home is no longer available for sale. I have a buyer who may be interested and I’d like to come by and preview it.”

Perhaps you didn’t really have a buyer, but were told this was a good way to get your foot in the door. However, in many cases, the seller has already gotten calls from 10 other Realtors claiming the exact same thing.

Instead of starting out with the same boring gimmick other Realtors use, Garry uses a different approach. 

PRO TIP: Interested in expired listings being part of your specialty? Check out our blog post “Scripts and Templates to Turn Expired Listing Leads Into Clients” and download our free report, “How to Turn Expired Listings into Clients”.

Script 3: Discounting Commission

In any marketplace, if consumers believe that everything is exactly the same (i.e. a commodity) they choose what they are going to buy—or who they are going to work with—based on price. If all real estate agents are the same, they’re going to hire the one who discounts their commission the most.

As a professional, we never want to be in a position where we are forced to give up our hard-earned commission to win a new listing. That’s why it’s so important for us to compete on value rather than price. We need to create a story for our clients to illustrate how we are different from the competition, and how those differences will benefit them.

In fact, don’t leave it to chance and have only ONE thing that differentiates you. Differentiate yourself at every step (even with how you say “No” to discounting your commission) so that the customer will remember you for everything that is different.

PRO TIP: Make sure to do your homework (and the math) before-hand so you’re able to answer any questions they throw at you. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, it’s always better to have it on hand than to be stuck trying to get out your calculator during your appointment! 

Bonus Script: Online Contact

How many times have you gotten the message (or a variation of), “I’m just looking for information, but I’m not ready to make any moves quite yet”…?

Two of the absolutely worst ways to handle this situation (yet, unfortunately, two of the most common) are to: 

  1. Overwhelm the prospective buyer by moving too fast or trying to pressure them into meeting before they are ready. This can turn them off to you as a realtor completely before they’re even ready to make a decision. 

  2. Ignore the prospect completely, or send a one-off message of “When you’re ready I’ll be here”, without any other information or help. 

Instead of scaring them off, or ignoring them completely, give them some information they can use and a reason to come back to you. 

Garry likes to offer his Buyer Direct Program and then obtains the prospects email address to add to his database and make sure they get the information they need. 

PRO TIP: Setup your social media direct messaging to be automatically respond to messages so that you’re not constantly tied to your phone or computer. 

Now that you know exactly what to say, you’ll be armed with the perfect response to any situation. 

If you’re interested in more tools, scripts, and strategies to help you with your real estate business you’ll want to tune-in to our next FREE webinar training! 

Author
Sarah Dibiasi

3 Ways Real Estate Agents Can Utilize Digital Marketing to Improve Sales

3 Ways Real Estate Agents Can Utilize Digital Marketing to Improve Sales

It’s no secret that, when it comes to the real estate market, competition is the name of the game. So, in an age when prospective buyers can see inside the living room of a home for sale 2,000 miles away, adapting your online marketing strategy to highlight your services and secure a sale should be at the top of your priority list.

An extension of your sales skill set, digital marketing will see you refine your strategy in line with this century’s digital shift, helping you hone your craft to the benefit of your sales figures. From optimizing your onsite content to targeting your audience through email campaigns, in this article, we’ll offer a range of actionable tips to help boost your sales ratings and future-proof your career this year and beyond.

Invest in email marketing

According to Smart Insights, a successful email campaign should expect to achieve a click-through rate of between 10% and 15% and, according to the email benchmark compilation from IBM, those sent from businesses within the real estate sector currently have an average click-through rate of 10.2%. While this is encouraging in theory, for those of you just starting to integrate email campaigns into your digital marketing strategy, competition is fierce and you may not be able to expect these sorts of figures immediately.

Email campaigns are a valuable marketing tool used to connect with new leads and nurture existing ones, but it’s not quite as simple as sitting down and creating your first campaign, then sending it out to your subscribers. An effective campaign will make use of well-researched audience segmentation and personalized content that engages the recipient providing them with the vital trigger needed to contact you in an offline capacity..

Focus on user experience

How likely would you be to close down a website upon discovering that it doesn’t load quickly enough? We’d guess pretty likely. With so many elements on a real estate website being used all at once—from photos and videos to contact links and maps—these sites can, in many cases, be incredibly slow to load on both desktop and mobile platforms. Understandably, this can cause users to bounce straight off your site and click the next search result in pursuit of a more satisfying experience.

With this in mind, it’s crucial you consider how well-optimized your website is for the user. This should be done by thinking about how easy it is to navigate (through filters and category pages), how fast your pages load (on desktop, mobile and tablet) and how relevant and engaging your content is (does it compel the user to get in touch with you?). By focusing your online strategy on your user’s experience as opposed to your inevitable sales intentions, you’re more likely to create a natural, engaged customer base built on trust, helping you guide users through your sales funnel with ease.

Consider your content

In the real estate sector, more so than in many other industries, communication is key. As such, when it comes to communicating with potential clientele via your digital marketing strategy, content really is king. Be it the written word or video and imagery, you need to focus on creating high-quality content that captures leads by communicating a powerful and distinct brand voice.

To do this, you need to pay equal attention to search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX). Professional content creation specialists are equipped to support you in this quest, creating custom content that targets high-value search queries as well as including relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) that prompt sales leads.

Digital marketing is a broad term and, within the saturated real estate market, it certainly comes with its own nuances. While, naturally, your end goal will be to generate more relevant sales opportunities, an initial focus on user experience to establish an online presence that ultimately helps you build an engaged following should remain at the top of your priority list. By fine-tuning how your brand is portrayed online, you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to guiding leads through your sales funnel—remembering all the while that digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint and patience in this industry is a virtue. 

About the Author: Tori Atkinson is the lead content creator for Paragraft, providing custom content writing services for ambitious brands looking to find and nurture their brand voice.

5 Reasons You’re Losing Clients

5 REASONS YOU’RE LOSING CLIENTS (AND DON’T EVEN KNOW IT)

It happens to the best of us. You see a hot lead come in, you reach out, and then….crickets.

Your first instinct is to probably write it off as a bad lead. But the truth is, “ghosting” could be a sign of a larger issue.

From the smallest mistake to a bigger picture problem, there are a number of reasons real estate agents lose clients before they even get a chance to talk to them.

Here are the top five.

You’re Out of Touch with the Market

Sure, this may not be your first rodeo. But even veteran agents can come across as amateur if they aren’t in-the-know on what’s happening in the market. When a client hires you, they trust you to be a market expert AND a real estate pro. This means staying up on local and national real estate trends, news and insights

Not only does keeping current make you better at serving your clients, it will make you a more confident agent. An easy way to keep yourself and your clients in the loop is by subscribing to real estate news sites like Keeping Current Matters

Add the articles to your website, share them on social media or follow-up to a client’s question through email. This is a great way to stay fresh and prove yourself as a relevant and reliable real estate expert who cares.

Your Commission Doesn’t Match Your Value

Any commission-based job can automatically get the stigma of being too salesy (ahem, car salesperson). Commission objections are a frustrating reality of the job, but an easy way to combat this is by making sure your clients know you are the trusted real estate advisor in your area. 

Become a market expert, know your neighborhood and constantly monitor trends and insights. You can do this easily by subscribing to real estate news sites like the KCM blog, getting involved in your community, becoming a regular on Nextdoor.com, and signing up for your local board of Realtors’ market updates. People will always pay a premium for a high-quality experience. 

You Bit Off More Than You Could Chew

You took on one client too many, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to cover everything you need to do. You slip up once or twice, and before you know it, a client has walked away. Raise your hand if this has happened before.

Ambition is an admirable quality, but it can backfire if you have way too much on your plate. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help as many people as possible achieve the dream of homeownership, but it’s most important to make sure every client is getting your absolute best always.

That way, you’re the agent they recommend when asked, “who’s the best agent in town?”

Your Website is Outdated

If your website looks like it was built circa 1999, it’s probably time for a reboot. According to Business.com, 75% of consumers admit that they judge a business’ credibility based on their website design, so an outdated or poorly navigable website can turn away even the warmest of leads.

Thankfully, it’s easy to keep your marketing modern with today’s resources. Unlike the old days, you don’t need to spend $2,000 hiring a web developer to build it out for you. Tools like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Placester make it easy to build, customize and maintain your own website for 1% of the cost of what you would pay a professional. You can even easily link it to your KCM membership to get an instant blog.

Here are a couple more ways to brand yourself as a market expert with content.

Your Social Media is Nearly Non-Existent

If clients are checking your website first, they’re checking your social media next. Instead of filling your feed with real estate memes and home decorating tips, keep it professional by positioning yourself on social media with:

  • Your listings
  • Market news
  • Local events
  • Local businesses
  • Client success stories

Yes, it shows that you’re social media savvy. But mostly, it shows that you care.

BOTTOM LINE

Sometimes the simplest faux pas can result in a big listing loss. By avoiding these common mistakes, you could not only keep current clients but also make yourself more appealing to future ones.

Remember, recruiting new prospects costs five times as much as retaining the ones you already have. 

Building and nurturing relationships through content marketing is an easy way to make sure you stay the trusted advisor for your clients. Keeping Current Matters makes this easy with ready to-share market insights that position you as a real estate expert.

Author:

Keeping Current Matters

Excellent Customer Service=Meeting Needs and Exceeding Expectations

Excellent Customer Service=Meeting Needs and Exceeding Expectations

Here is something I have always found a little odd. Most businesses are aware that meeting customer needs is critical to their survival. As a matter of fact, on the sales and marketing end the focus is strongly tied to understanding what the customer needs so product solutions can be offered that are meaningful and valuable to him. Why is it then, that so many companies ignore customer needs when they design their customer service models? If it was important on the sales end, shouldn’t it still be important on the service end? Of course it should. If you are looking to improve your customer service program, look no farther than this vital principle: The key to excellent customer service lies in partnering with your customer to help him achieve his goals, to help solve his problems, and to address his needs. When you work hard to help your customer find solutions that will satisfy his specific needs, you are not merely solving a problem, you are solidifying a strong business relationship that can last for years.

So the next question is: How do you go about identifying your customer’s needs? Believe me, the last thing you want to do is run the risk of assuming you know what his needs are before you give him the time to tell you. So, you must start by asking a set of clear, specific questions covering issues like his problems, expectations, results, timetables, people, fund allocation, and level of tolerable disruption related to his organization or his life. For best results, listen patiently and carefully to the answers rather than simply quoting company policy. This is the first step in working with your customer to find real solutions to his problems.

There is another important principle to remember when it comes to providing outstanding customer service. Great customer service certainly means meeting the customer’s business or practical needs, however, what many customer service representatives fail to recognize is that they must also meet their customer’s personal needs. Many times, his own personal needs are more important to the customer than the business solution you help him to search out.

Each of your customers has four main personal, or “human,” needs:

1. The Need to be Understood – when someone contacts customer service, the first need they have is to be heard. They need confirmation that someone is taking the time to really listen to them in order to respond to their need.

2. The Need to Feel Welcome – anyone doing business with you who end up feeling like an outsider will not return. People need to feel that you are glad to help them and that their business is important to you.

3. The Need to Feel Important – ego and self-esteem are powerful human needs. We all like to feel important. Anything you can do to make a guest feel special is a step in the right direction.

4. The Need for Comfort – customers need physical comfort: a place to wait, rest, talk, or do business. They also need psychological comfort: the assurance they will be taken care of properly, and the confidence you will meet their needs.

If you intend to provide the kind of service that will keep customers coming back again and again, then your highest priority must be to focus on these needs.

While many aspects of customer interaction have changed over the years, especially with the advent of the Internet and email, there is still nothing more valuable than building a good relationship with your customer.

A strong customer relationship consists of the following four key elements:

Rapport – rapport is not as simple as just “getting along” with a person. Rapport is a mutual understanding and compatibility between you and your customer about each other’s key goals, problems, and needs.

Value – your customers need to see that building a relationship with you is valuable to them, both in business and personally. Developing effective solutions that truly solve their problems and address key needs enhance your value as a consultant.

Respect – also, your customers have to respect you in order to seek your advice as a consultant. It is impossible to build trust or a relationship if others do not respect you or your advice. Respect is built by exhibiting competency and consistency in everything you do with your customer.

Trust – if you consistently offer your customer rapport, value, and respect, you will EARN his trust completely. Trust is vital for establishing a long-term business relationship, but it is not something you can demand from your customer. Instead, it is something that he extends to you as a result of the way you respond to him over time.

If you want to build a solid bond of trust between you and your customer, then never deliver less than he or she expects of you. The better you fulfill their expectations, the higher the trust level they will have for you in the future. And don’t forget: it only takes a few incidents of failure to meet their expectations to cost you their trust, respect, and most likely their business as well.

 

By James A. Baker
Author, The Anger Busting Workbook,
Finalist, Book of the Year, Foreword Magazine
Founder and CEO,
Baker Communications