Tag Archives: customer feedback

How to sell the way your customers want to buy

One of the key questions we ask our clients when we work with them is ‘ What business are you in?’  Most people will tell us they are the thing they sell, so for example, this week, I had ‘a financial adviser’, ‘an events planner’, ‘an accountant’, and ‘a sales trainer’.

But is that really what the customer is buying? The customer using the financial adviser may be looking for help to ensure they can retire with no money worries, or the customer using the events planner may be trying to organise a surprise 50th birthday party so will be looking for a memorable experience.

When you buy a drill, you aren’t buying it because it’s a drill, you’re getting it to make holes in order to hang up pictures or put up shelves.

At The Chameleon Guide we work hard with our clients trying to get to what it is their customers are buying off them because this will affect the marketing messages they use.

But not only is it important to understand why they are buying off you, your other challenge is to find out how your customers like to be sold to, and where they can be found for you to get them to buy your product or service.

Percentage of customers who will buy from us

In order to find out these things – you need to talk to your customers (see my previous blog on the importance of communicating with and keeping your existing customers).

In my quest for understanding how best to communicate with customers, I came across a book by Kristin Zhivago called ‘Roadmap to Revenue – How to sell the way your customers want to buy’.

It’s split into three parts

– Discover – Finding out about your customers
– Debate – Analysing  and discussing what you’ve learned to come up with a list of priority activities that are most important to your customer
– Deploy – Work on the delivering the action plans you came up with in the Debate section

I’m going to briefly cover off the ‘Discover’ bit – the finding out about your customers.

Kristin recommends an in-depth interview process – here are the top tips summarised:

  1. Identify the customers you want to interview
    Your top customers are a clear option, but if you can do more, so much the better. If you have multiple channels or services, try and get a good range across all the different areas.
  2. Email requesting the interview
    The email needs to be either come from the top or be shown to be endorsed by the owner/CEO/MD i.e. this is an edict that has come from the top.
  3. Interview process
    a. Only do phone interviews – you will get much more information from people as they aren’t being put on the spot by you facing them
    b. Record the phone interviews – this allows you to concentrate on the call totally
    But still take notes
    c. Confidentiality – let the customer/client know it’s completely confidential. This must be followed through even after the process and someone internal thinks they know who an interview belongs to. Do not let on as to who it is.
    d. CEO/Owner led calls – It’s highly recommended that the owner/CEO does the first five interviews as this will really give you a feel for how your customers/clients are feeling. You may end up wanting to do them all! After that, it’s better, if possible, to get an external agency to do the calls, but you may not have that luxury.
  4. Handling customer/client complaints
    If the customer complains at all, do not try to tell him/her how things have improved. Acknowledge the issue and thank them for their honesty and that it’s really helpful information to know.
    Do not get defensive – this will put the customer off and make them less inclined to share honest information with you.

She suggests a structure for the questions which are deliberately written in such a way as to get the best from your customer/client. These questions are far more focussed on understanding how the experience was for the customer – you will get far more valuable information this way. And they will feel much more valued rather than you asking if they’d write a testimonial. Come back to that a later stage after you’ve interviewed them if they’ve been particularly glowing – but do not ask them in the interview because you’re back to ‘what’s in it for me’ rather than what’s in it for them..

If you have any key suppliers or partners, it may be worth interviewing them as well.

The information you get from the interviews will inform all aspects of your selling, from customer service, to the website to the information you give customers etc.

The questions are very customer-centric and you may well get resistance internally, particularly from sales people who always want to ask more direct questions about getting more business or shy away from asking the hard questions. Resist them! Her structure really works. One of my clients used the technique and got some tremendous feedback from his clients, including some more business.

Questions include:

  • What do you think of our service?
  • Have you had any interaction with our staff? How was it?
  • If you were John Bloggs (the CEO) tomorrow, what’s the first thing you would focus on?
  • What problem(s) were you trying to solve by using our service?
  • How did our service help you solve your problem?

There are a total of 12 and they are all based on open ended questions which may well result in sub questions being asked hence why the interview can take in excess of an hour to complete.

If you’d like a sample of the questions with tips and template emails to send out, let me know and I’ll email it to you (karen@thechameleonguide.com)

Clearly, once you’ve done all the interviews, you need to do something with it!

This is the Debate phase of the book, where you analyse the information in-depth and report it back to the management team.  Essentially, you will be identifying and prioritising the results in terms of what you need to focus on. This could be very broad ranging, from your website, through to how you sell and to how you manage your customer service. The book covers off how to manage this process in great depth before going on to the final phase of Deployment (actually implementing the changes). It’s rather less easy to summarise here, so I recommend the book – ‘Roadmap to Revenue – How to sell the way your customers want to buy‘ * if you are keen to follow the process through as she describes it.

What she proposes, is not a quick solution unlike Net Promoter Score. It requires a lot more effort, planning and commitment of the organisation, but is very powerful and will help you map how to match your customers’ buying process so they buy more from you. Resulting in happy customers and happy you.

For more information on how to grow your business email me – karen@thechameleonguide.com

http://www.thechameleonguide.com

* I get no commission from book sales

One really simple way of knowing how loyal your customers are using Net Promoter Score

Do you know how loyal your customers are to you?

In my last blog , I talked about the importance of talking to your customers and how to implement an account management strategy for your top ten customers.

This week’s blog is going to look at another aspect of engaging with your customers through customer feedback, in particular using the Net Promoter Score to assess the loyalty of your customers.

There are three types of customer feedback you can actively use:

  1. Net Promoter Score
  2. In-depth interviewing of your key customers (different from the key account conversation you have with them)
  3. More general customer feedback that you can get from all your customers.

I will cover the latter two in future blogs.

You will also get passive customer feedback for example from your sales team or front-line customer service staff and you should encourage your staff to let you know about any issues, suggestions or complaints.

Customer feedback

When I was the marketing director of a software testing consultancy, I used to have a running battle with our sales people as I was very keen on getting feedback from our customers. Not only about what they thought we did well, but where they thought we could improve.  This horrified the sales team – why on earth would I want to go looking for bad news stories?

My argument was that surely you want to find out the bad stuff before it’s too late and whilst you can still do something about it?

‘Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’ – Bill Gates

 Customer feedback cartoon 1

I am terribly unBritish and don’t hesitate to complain if I feel I have been let down by an organisation. How that company treats my complaint directly affects whether or not I will use them again.  The ones that hold their hands up immediately and admit they have failed me and do something positive to turn the situation around get my undying devotion, or at the very least, they get to keep me as a customer. A complaint can be turned to your advantage. As long as you deal with it promptly and correctly.

But I’d far rather not complain in the first place or to have the issue dealt with before it blew up leaving me exhausted and enraged with trying to get someone/anyone to listen to me.

Sometimes an apology is all it takes.

Getting new customers is expensive!

Last week I shared the fact that it costs six to seven times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

The benefits of keeping a customer far outweigh trying to find new ones all the time;

  • They are less sensitive to price changes
  • They are less likely to move to a competitor
  • They are much more likely to continue spending with you
  • And of course they are more likely to refer you to others (thus reducing your marketing spend as this is a zero cost activity)

So we should be spending more effort on talking to our customers. Getting feedback from your customers is one way to help you achieve this.

Using the Net Promoter Score

This is the new buzz measure. It’s a way of measuring your customers’ loyalty. This is believed to be a more important measure than customer satisfaction as a way of establishing if a customer is likely to buy from you again.

Here are the four steps you need to take:

  1. You ask one simple question:

How likely is it that you will recommend us to a friend or colleague? 

  And asking them to give a score from 0 to 10 where 0 is extremely unlikely/never and 10 is extremely likely.

The scores are divided into three broad categories

Promoters – those who score 9 or 10. They are highly likely to be loyal customers who will continue using you and refer you to others

Passives – those who score 7 or 8. They are satisfied customers, but who are likely to shop around and can be switched to your competitors.

Detractors – those who score 0-6. These are your unhappy customers and who are likely to complain either to you or to their friends and have the potential to damage your brand resulting in a negative impact on your growth.

You collect the data over a month asking all customers that one question.

  1. Calculate your NPS

In order to calculate the score, you ignore the scores of the Passives and then simply take away the percentage of the Detractors from the percentage of the Promoters giving you’re your Net Promoter Score or NPS.

Example NPS

Promoter score – 25%

Detractor score – 5%

Net promoter score is 25-5 = 20

measure-of-success
The average industry score is 15 so that would be  your benchmark and obviously you want it to be higher than that. Apple has a truly remarkable NPS of 72!

  1. Regularly collect the information

This not a one off exercise, this is an on-going activity to enable you to track the trends to see if you are improving or worsening month on month. Each month you gather the data and work out the NPS. If you can get this question on-line, then it should be a simple task of working it out with some technical wizardy.

  1. Track the score

It’s a very easy metric to track graphically and to share with your staff. And you can use it to assess any change in practice to see if it is having a positive impact on your customers. Here’s a hypothetical one:

NPS graph

And of course there is a step 5 – which is to take action if the trend starts a downward decline (and celebrate if it continues to increase month on month).

So, with this measure, you are looking for the trend (in hopefully an upward trajectory).

It’s a measure that is increasingly asked of businesses up for sale so it’s good to have built up some history to show.

It’s by no means a perfect measure and there are those who would argue it’s not the be all and end all measure that its proponents claim.

And you will use the feedback from the NPS in conjunction with other feedback you are getting so hopefully you will be getting a holistic view of how your customers perceive you.

Nonetheless, it is a simple to implement measure that certainly gives you a good idea as to a pattern of how you are perceived by your customers and one that can be used to good effect internally with your staff.

If you want to know more about how to build your relationships with your customers, please drop me an email – karen@thechameleonguide.com

http://www.thechameleonguide.com