Archive | March, 2012

Have You Hugged Your Customers Today?

20 Mar

Hug your customers, you say? Isn’t that crossing a line? Rest assured, I don’t mean literally “hug” them as in wrapping your arms around them. Did you figuratively hug them, however? Did you show them they matter to you?

We all know the best form of advertising is through word-of-mouth. We recognize that a glowing recommendation is worth more than a thousand mailers, emails & social media posts all put together. But how do you get that positive word-of-mouth recommendation?

Let me ask you this: when is the last time you truly went out of your way to make a customer feel special? I’m not talking about taking doughnuts to a meeting; I’m not even talking about taking a client out for dinner. Anyone can do that. I’m talking about doing something personal for them — something that shows you “get” them.  It can be as simple as purchasing a book you feel would be of interest and dropping it off along with a handwritten note about why you chose that book. If Definition of Enchantyour client is a sports fan and is leaving town for vacation or business, how about sending over a couple of tickets for a sporting event in the area in which they’ll be? If he or she regularly vacations in the same area, what about a gift certificate to a restaurant in that area? These “touches” you provide don’t need to be expensive. It’s more that you care enough to get to know the person and can relate to them in a non-business way, too.

I recently read a blog on this topic by David Johnson called, Forget About ROI, Start Thinking About ‘ROE.’ He says the key to word-of-mouth advertising is having the ability to far exceed the customer’s expectation.  He suggests taking the Customer Experience and turn it into a Customer Enchantment.

. . . it’s the difference between what people expect and the actual level of customer service received that will dictate whether or not a person will talk about how their business with you went. Of course it goes without saying that if you fail to meet those expectations the word-of-mouth will be negative but if you exceed them, well . . . all sorts of magical things start to happen, such as repeat and referral business!

The idea is to go so above and beyond what the customer expects that you earn massive amounts of exposure on the level of Return on Experience (ROE) you receive from shocking your customers with your level of customer service. In fact, I don’t want you to think about it as “customer service” at all, instead think of it as:

Customer Enchantment

It might just be me but when I think of the term customer service I think about doing all the things that I’m supposed to do such as be helpful and friendly but when I think in terms of customer enchantment I think on a much, MUCH grander scale. In other words I don’t want you to think about how you can give good customer service, I want you to think in terms of “how can I enchant my customers?”

Enchanting others is not for everyone. Not everyone is good at doing those kinds of things. In fact, most people aren’t. If you are one of those warm, fuzzy feeling-challenged people, find someone in your organization who is good at it and charge them with the task of handing out warm fuzzy feelings on a regular basis.

Don’t forget to give some thought to who should be “hugged.” Do you take your best three customers and reward them every month? Do you find a way to reach out to your top twenty customers on a regular, but rotating, schedule? Or do you look at your customer list with an eye towards determining who has the most potential, and woo those you want to keep aboard your ship for a long time. Or, should you look at your customer list with any eye towards who carries a lot of influence and with whom? Only you can answer those questions.

It may seem odd to think about approaching your business contacts with a personal touch but the benefits will far outweigh any momentary awkwardness you may feel. Not only will you “enchant” them, but they will tell everyone about what a great thing you did for them.

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Changing the Way We Mail

16 Mar

Much has been in the news lately about the United States Postal Service (USPS). It has been financially struggling for some time now, and continues to show a loss each year. Changes are in the works to reverse this trend, and those changes will affect everyone.

United States Postal Service

USPS Logo

First class mail is one area likely to be hardest hit. For one thing, President Obama has endorsed the idea of discontinuing Saturday delivery. Additionally, due to postal network optimization, overnight mail delivery of first class mail will be a rarity, even if the recipient is in the next town over. Because of decreased overall volumes, more than half of the current mail sorting facilities are being reviewed for efficiency and may be closed. In September of 2011, the USPS announced a study of the operations of 252 of its 487 mail processing facilities. The goal is to reduce the number of processing centers to fewer than 200 by 2013. The remaining facilities will expand their work hours from an average of seven hours per day to up to 18 hours per day. This change in hours will impact the current cut-off times for mail delivery to Business Mail Entry Units (BMEUs). For first-class presort mail, entry times will change for 8 a.m. for mixed mail and noon for 5-digit presort mail.

Postal officials say delivery times of first class mail will change to 2 – 3 days, up from the current 1 – 3 days. Periodicals will change to 2 – 9 days, also up from the current 1 – 9 days. The USPS does say, however, that based on mail entry times, one-day delivery for local mail is still possible but only for presorted mail and only for mail to ZIP codes in your local Sectional Center Facility.

With these changes, the best way for mailers to reduce their delivery times is through presorting and separating the mail for quicker processing through the streamlined USPS network.

Mailers should be aware of these changes and continue to develop new strategies for working with them. At the very least, people need to allow more time for delivery of pieces; large-scale commercial mailers may also want to change production schedules in order to meet new entry times.