The Customer’s Point of View

customer point of viewPiss poor customer service will kill your business almost as quickly as piss poor marketing will!!!

A while back, Jackie Huba wrote about the bad customer service she experienced in attempting to purchase a gift certificate to a dayspa. In Handling fee, or manhandled? Jackie gives a spa owner an up close and personal look at what it looks like from the customer’s point of view.

At the time, I was in possession of an unused spa gift certificate.  After reading Jackie’s spa horror story, I worried that there might be an “un-noted” expiration date on my gift certificate as well, so I called that afternoon to schedule my appointment.

I definitely got the impression that the staff at the spa wasn’t happy to be making good on a sale they pocketed months ago.

At that point, I realized that if I weren’t in possession of a gift certificate, I probably would have hung up the phone and tried to find another spa.  However, the buying decision had already been made so I went ahead and scheduled an afternoon appointment.

The morning of my appointment, I got a DM from a friend telling me that I had serious problems on my blog.

Let’s see – I can spend my afternoon getting a massage and pedicure, or I can fix the problem with my blog. Hmmm….. this is a no brainer.  I pick up the phone and prepare myself for the ordeal of  speaking to Ms. Snooty Spa Receptionist again.

Ms. Snooty Spa Receptionist tells me there will be a 50% charge for rescheduling my appointment with less than 24 hours notice. I bit my tongue and said “I’ll be there”…. and hoped that fixing my blog wouldn’t be a big deal.  Fortunately it wasn’t but I show up for my spa treatment looking like I’d just rolled out of bed.

It’s been a while since I redeemed that gift certificate. The manicure and pedicure are long gone and my neck and shoulders are as tight as a drum once again – but I won’t be calling for another appointment at this particular spa.  If you ask the owners of the spa why, I’m certain they would blame the “bad economy.”

WRONG!

I have to assume that I’m not the only person who received exceptionally poor customer service at this day spa – which should be the ONE type of business where exceptionally good customer service should be the goal.

However, as bad as their customer service is – it’s not the piss poor customer service that is killing this business – it’s piss poor follow through and marketing.

Piss poor marketing will kill your business faster than piss poor customer service will.

The only reason I remembered this particular experience is that I found this post in my drafts folder this morning.  I began writing the post right after the experience but never posted it.

Make this your marketing mantra: Out of sight – out of mind.

I haven’t heard anything from this spa since my initial visit and that qualifies as “piss poor marketing”.

I didn’t get a follow up “We hope you were delighted with your spa experience” email, note or phone call.  A phone call would have given me the opportunity to “vent” and would have given the spa owners the chance to redeem the relationship.

However, it didn’t happen.

Time has passed and yet I have never received a “we’re still here” note – aka direct mail piece reminding me of my visit and encouraging me to schedule another.

I have never been offered the opportunity to “send five friends and get a free massage.”

My daughter – who purchased the initial gift certificate for her mother’s birthday in March- didn’t get a reminder that a gift certificate to the spa would make a wonderful Mother’s Day present.

This spa is relying on “word of mouth” marketing to promote their business.  My daughter heard about the spa from someone with whom she works.  Word of mouth marketing worked once – but the buzz of the new discovery is over and my daughter ended up spending just as much on other presents for Mother’s Day – but she didn’t spend that money with the spa.

This spa is ignoring their most valuable marketing asset – their current customer files.  Unfortunately, they are not alone.

It costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell an existing customer.

This is not my ‘opinion” – it is a fact.

A lot of small business owners are terrified of “marketing” but sometimes, “marketing” can merely nothing more than acts of customer appreciation.

Stop!  Watch closely – can you see the line between “marketing” and “customer service” blurring?

Reach out and touch your existing customers this week.  Create a special “thank you offer” just for existing customers and then let them know about it.  Even if it’s just a simple “thank you” card, you’ll be surprised what it can do for your bottom line.

Buyer Beware: Be an Informed Consumer

The customer SHOULD be king -but sometimes, some businesses tend to treat you like a dog!

I created the 8 Week Power Blog Launch  because after 6 months of blogging, my clients would come back to me with various questions about what else they needed to be doing to make their blogs successful.

Because my clients are not “web savvy”, a significant part the course is education about web basics.   While I don’t guarantee that you’ll become instantly “web savvy”, when you finish the course you will have the basics you need to become an informed consumer on the web!

One of the things it teaches you to do is to “spy” on what’s going on behind the scenes  which in the context of building your blog, is ESSENTIAL information.  However, it’s can also serve as a sort of “truth detector” when used to evaluate the claims of various “success” gurus.

It made my day when I got an email from an 8 Week Power Blog Launch user:

“I was in talks with an SEO expert who wanted to work on my blog.  However, when I used the “secret spy tools” you shared in the course, I didn’t like what I saw.  This information alone was worth the price of the course.”

YEAH!!!

Quite honestly, those stories are ALMOST as good as the stories of phenomenal traffic growth from using the program.  One of those stories is Sara Healy.  Sarah is one of my blog clients who was the first in line to grab a copy of the program.

When Sara started the 8 Week Power Blog Launch program, I didn’t grab a screen shot of her Alexa ranking.  However, as I was composing this post,  I went in to check and see what progress  she had made over the past 3 weeks.  Here’s what I saw:

Her blog has seen a 939% increase in reach and has moved up over 4.1 Million positions in the past three months.  (Most of this has happened in the past month as she’s been working the steps of the course.)

I want to be QUICK to point out that this jump is the result of Sara’s hard work!  She’s a wonderful writer and has a gift for communicating effectively.  The course  didn’t provide any “magic”, it just provided the education she needed to make her blog a rising star!

I use these tools ALL the time in my journey about the web.  The other day, I followed a link to a product that claims to be very similar to the 8 Week Power Blog Launch product.   It was one of the dozens of “Make Easy Money Blogging” products available online and like a good Internet Marketer it is being sold via a long one page sales page site which features:

  • a picture of the “author” working on his a laptop under a palm tree by the beach
  • a photo of his collection of rare antique sports cars parked in front of a mansion
  • a “screenshot” of his earnings
  • a long LIST of testimonials.

Now, since his product PROMISES  A Ton Of Free Traffic (copied and pasted from his sales page -explaining the font and color), I decided to check on the blogs which he lists as “testimonials” for his “secret system”.  (Remember, his system is effortless so there’s no reason WHY the testimonials wouldn’t have blogs with amazing Alexa rankings!)

The first thing I notice is that several of the “testimonial” sites are not blogs but simply single page websites selling their own info products.  The few that are actual blogs are not doing well by ANY stretch of the imagination when it comes to traffic.

What was this guy THINKING?   Doesn’t he know how EASY it is to copy the URL and visit the site?

So much for A Ton Of Free Traffic without any effort on your part.

With that said, while the  8 Week Power Blog Launch program is not HARD, it does require an investment of time and effort on your part.

If Sara had purchased the program and then done nothing – well, then her blog would still be sitting in the dark corners of the unexplored areas of the web.  Instead she’s working through the program and as a result has increased traffic to her blog – and she’s not even to the “blog promotion” part of the course!

One of the “tools” I recommend you use in the course is the Firefox plug-SEO Quake.  You have to be using Firefox as your web browser to use it – but you should be using Firefox anyhow!  Install it and it will change the way you view the web!

The Name of the Game is Trust

Lately, I’ve been talking a LOT about the importance of TRUST as an essential element of your marketing efforts.  Here’s a word picture to help you “visualize” how the whole “trust building” process works.

Think of trust like you would a bank account.  When you first meet someone, the balance of the “trust” account is zero.  Then, as you interact with this other person, deposits are being made into the trust account.  To borrow from Tom Volkar’s blog – when you honor your agreements, explicit AND implicit, you’re making deposits into the trust account. When you don’t honor those commitments,  you are debiting the trust account.

You do this all the time with friends, family and other people you come into contact with during the course of your daily life – including the “entities” with which you do business!

In the case of your trust relationship with business “entities”, when it comes time for real MONEY to change hands,  when it’s time to write the the check for legal tender, you’ll make a quick mental check of the balance of the “trust” account.    Unfortunately, there’s not a way to “log in to” the trust account to check the balance.   When you’re trying to establish with a new client, you’ll know you haven’t accumulated enough “trust” in the account if you ask for the sale and the potential client “balks”.

This is the word picture in my mind as I read a recent post over at David Airey’s blog.  In his post,  A Conversation About Spec Work“, David shares a somewhat heated exchange between a prospective client and a designer over working on spec.  In case you didn’t know, the BANE of a graphic artist’s existence – SPEC WORK!  (If you don’t get why a graphic artist might be upset over the prospect of working for “free”, check out Jacob Cass’ post, Why logo design does not cost $5.00)

All I could see in the exchange was a battle of two individuals whose trust accounts were empty when the trust checks were presented for payment.

Jacob makes a point in the comments section of David’s post where he points out that you don’t expect your dentist to work on spec.  (OUCH!  That illustration really “hit home” with me thanks to my little “dental drama” of late and the ensuing anti-word of mouth marketing campaign.)

However, Jacob is only partially correct.  While it’s true that ESTABLISHED dentists don’t offer to work on spec, it’s a different story for new dentist.

When you see an incredibly low cost initial appointment advertised by a dentist, it’s actually another version of working on spec.  While the dentist IS charging a small fee, the advertised price that doesn’t BEGIN to cover the variable costs associated with the exam let alone the fixed costs of running the practice!  If that’s not working on spec, I don’t know what is!

Working on spec is nothing new to anyone who is in the business of selling “nothing but air“.  Service based businesses usually have to do a LOT of spec work in the beginning!  Chiropractors, attorneys, coaches and consultants are just a few of the other professionals who are selling their expertise who must establish a significant level of trust with their potential clients.  I personally created a LOT of web sites in the beginning for minimal cost to build my practice.

However, as the service professional continues to build trust with an ever expanding circle of clients – then the need for spec work decreases.  Not only do you begin to get client referrals, but you can also share client testimonials to help build trust.

David Airey has openly credited his blog with building his business from a local business to one with an international scope.  David’s blog is acting as a GREAT vehicle for building trust with potential clients.

Not only can you feature client testimonials on your blog, but you can also share your expertise freely – which has the effect of making HUGE deposits in your trust account with your blog’s readers.

Building your service based business is a catch 22 type of deal.  In order to gain the trust of potential clients you have to have testimonials/referrals which you can’t get until you get clients!!!

That’s the reason for working on spec.  However, the good news is that  blogs are GREAT for building trust with prospective clients.  They can help you to build trust for your service based business.

Word of Mouth Marketing- Turns out what you don’t know CAN hurt you

Word of mouth marketing – it’s the holy grail for small business owners.  In the world of Web 2.0, word of mouth advertising is sometimes known as “viral marketing“. In any case, word of mouth advertising is where you rely on your satisfied customers to spread the word about your products or services.

Word of mouth marketing is a GREAT way to build a business when the message being carried by your customers is positive.   Heck, there is even Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association dedicated to promoting this method of marketing and advertising!

I have a love/hate relationship with word of mouth marketing.  I love that it’s powerful, it’s effective and best of all, it’s cheap!  I’ve built my business solely upon word of mouth marketing – which is the definition of irony because I help small business owners as a marketing consultant and I warn my clients NOT to rely solely upon Word of Mouth Marketing as their sole promotion tool to promote their business because ….

WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING SUCKS WHEN SOMEONE IS BAD MOUTHING YOUR SERVICES

Tomorrow marks the 4 week anniversary of the extraction of my wisdom tooth.  Unfortunately, this is a tale of how important trust can be when it comes to word of mouth marketing – especially when you’re  building a business and a brand.

My tale begins in classic Word of Mouth Marketing fashion.  I was asking friends if they knew of a good dentist and  I was referred to Southport Dental Clinic in Port St Lucie, FL.

[Read more…]

It’s Like Christmas in September: Building Trust Through Blogging

It’s like Christmas morning here today – except it’s the kind of Christmas morning where all your presents are from sadistic narcissists.  When spending the holidays with sadistic narcissistic relatives, you don’t make any sudden moves, you make sure not to take your eyes off of your valuables (or relatives) and most importantly, you don’t have high expectations of what is contained within the packages addressed to you.

My first “present” to arrive today was an actual old fashioned CHAIN LETTER via snail mail! A real live CHAIN LETTER! I mean, I’d heard about chain letters when I was a kid but to actually receive one in my mail box at the end of my driveway – well I just never imagined it would happen to me!

I knew there was something fishy about the letter. It was addressed to my husband, but the return address was of someone I don’t know. Could it be that my husband has another family in Kansas? Perhaps he has a secret identity? As I began to open the mystery letter, a thought flashed through my mind- “Nobody sends anthrax through the mail anymore, do they?” I held my breath as I carefully opened the letter.

Turns out my husband isn’t a spy nor is he leading a double life.  So much for my drama fix for the day.  The envelope contained 4 pages sloppily stapled together.  It lead with, “I’m a retired attorney, so you can trust me.”

I haven’t laughed that hard in YEARS!

When I was able to stand upright again – I wiped the tears from my eyes and kept reading.  The gist of the letter is that you send $1 to each of the 6 names on the list with the request to “ADD ME TO YOUR LIST”.  By paying $1 to add your name to the list, it’s not illegal – according to the letter.  Why would he lie?  After all, he’s a trusted retired attorney!

They say laughter is the best medicine and I’m about to overdose!

It’s official.  The scammers are leaving the internet and going back to snail mail.  WHEW!  I knew if we all kept ignoring those spam emails that eventually they’d leave.  (By the way, the 30% of you who CLICK are encouraging them to stay!!!)

It wouldn’t be Christmas with just one present, so I then went to my email and got a message from a client.

“Is this legitimate and/or do you know anything about this?”

The attached email is typical.

Would you like to earn auto-pilot commissions every time you post to your blog? And at the same time use the Power of Twitter to drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog.

Notice the key elements in this pitch:

  • auto-pilot – aka get something for nothing
  • the power of Twitter – a “magic” program you’ve heard lots about but probably aren’t using
  • massive amounts of traffic- because all you need for your blog to succeed is massive traffic.

Why is it that every one of these programs begins with

“Here’s a no fail, no learning required, minimal time and effort on your part way to achieve massive traffic to your blog!”

Unfortunately, it’s human nature.

I told my client I’d check it out for her and I learned a lot.

First, I didn’t know that the Butterfly Marketing stuff was still being used.  The whole “OTO” thing is a thing of beauty.   It’s a great way to automate the “impending doom” close on the web.   However, when you’ve been burned before, you usually aren’t anxious to put your hand on the stove again.

Here’s the deal for those of you who don’t know the “system” behind Butterfly Marketing.

Offer an attractive free resource via a squeeze page.  (Squeeze page:  where there are only two options – sign up or leave.  You don’t let them “learn more” by surfing the site – they either want the freebie or they don’t.)

Then, when visitors sign up to receive the free resource, they are taken to a page that offers you a ONE TIME OFFER (OTO).  The page is programmed to display only once, so if they click away, they are “robbed” of the opportunity to purchase this amazing product/service.

In this case, they’re selling you a program to create WordPress plug ins even if you know nothing about coding.  You may not know PHP from CSS, but with this system you can create your own WordPress plug in.

Once the sucker – ahem, buyer has clicked away from that appealing offer, you offer another resource – again letting them know that this offer will go away just like the last one did.

“Aren’t you sorry you let the last one go?  If you’re smart, you’ll jump on this chance.”

They’re serious.  They want your money.  Buy something NOW!

If you’re a total tightwad, you’ll say no again because by now all you want is to get to the free resource you were promised.

VIOLA!  You arrive.  It’s a pretty stark page though.  The most prominent feature of the page is that you are offered an opportunity to earn AFFILIATE COMMISSIONS if you’ll promote this program to your friends, family and website visitors. Just because you were too smart to buy doesn’t mean your chump friends and family won’t.

Oh, and there’s your promised freebie – a WordPress plug in that will automatically “tweet” your Twitter account.  I’ve got to confess, at this point, I’m worried about installing this on a blog I care about.  These people haven’t done ANYTHING to gain my trust.  Am I jeapordizing my blog AND my twitter account by using this?

We live in a world where it’s hard to TRUST anyone these days.  The other morning, I was listening to a local radio show where they were talking about a video they saw on YouTube.  The topic of discussion – was the video “real”.  Despite video evidence, they were still unsure whether or not this phenomemnon was true.

We live in a world where you can’t believe your eyes or your ears.  The Bejing Olympics was full of fakes – from fireworks to birth certificates.  If you live in the US, you’re being bombarded by political propaganda disguised as “news”.  What’s real?  What’s fake?  What can you trust?

One of the drums I pound frequently here is that your blog is a GREAT way to build trust with potential clients and customers.  It’s hard to “fake” your expertise over the course of a few hundred blog posts.

How do you use your blog to create trust with your readers?