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How retailers can differentiate customers

This photo was shared by the famous author, Susan Cain.  She noted “There’s an introvert on the customer services team.”

Her world view is all focused on explaining to the majority of the population who are extroverts how the minority (introverts) prefer to be treated.

Treat different customers differently by Sephora retail

Skilful marketers treat different customers differently

Face to face retail is different from online retail.  Online, the customer wanders where she wants, unhindered except by popups and tracking cookies – she’s unaware of one of these most of the time.

But in shops, it’s different.  Many sales assistants are paid on commission – this drives their behaviours.  And without a customer to speak to they risk not getting a commission payment.

When I worked the shop floor [Harrods, Burberrys] and now when I go to Trade Shows, I developed a technique which was successful for me.

I would make eye contact with the customer prospect, smile, and then look away first.  Sometimes I also said ‘Hi’.

Why did this method customer engagement work?

Firstly, I made the customer aware that I was there and could help if needed.

Secondly, by looking away first I left them in control of any future re-engagement.  They could choose to ignore me and I had signalled that this was fine, that they had no obligation to respond or engage with me.

Back to Sephora

A comment under Susan Cain’s post said

While I understand that we are not all extroverts, is it really that hard to say no thanks when asked if you require help? Perhaps it is? Perhaps one solution would be to changes the words. Red”Happy to be approached for you to assist me” Black “Thanks for not approaching me, I would love your assistance when I ask for it”

And this was my reply

It’s not the “hard” aspect that matters, Debbie. It is the quiet lack of interruption in the shopping experience and the energy it takes to interact when you’d prefer not to.

I am married to an introvert and I have had to do a lot of learning.

Plus, enabling ways for brands to “treat different customers differently” is not just about Susan Cain‘s introverts versus extroverts angle.  There are many ways.

I did a website design for a real estate agent.  2 buttons on the home page – I’m Buying – I’m Selling.  They go to separate customer journeys…. with different messaging.

Retail customer segmentation challenge

If you run a retail business, where can you enable simple ways to allow customers to self-identify into different groups who want / need to be treated differently?

Adoption curves for MarTech

This past week has seen a “Sweeper Wave” of coinciding reading and researches which tell me one new thing – podcasting for business content marketing is now going mainstream.

First let me explain the sweeper waves – I was on holiday on the Coromandel Coast and a sea swell off the west coast caused occasionally huge waves to come right up the beach nearly to the high tide mark – even when the tide was half out.  These had large volumes of water inside them and so had great forward momentum and a strong undertow when they receded.  While I watched, people paddling knee deep got caught off guard and swept off their feet and the wave also soaked their clothes higher up the beach – one lady broke her hip being tumbled by the wave and the air ambulance was called out.

podcast studio, auckland podcast, podcast for business, NZ podcasts

I reflected on the sweeper waves and see them as a metaphor for change in marketing and business.

Hemingway’s insight into change (or bankruptcy) is that it happens slowly and then all at once.  They key is knowing whether what you are seeing is at the early-adopter or just-going-mainstream stage.  I have followed the rise of electric vehicles assiduously since watching Tony Seba’s illustration of Fifth Avenue, New York.  These two photos are taken 13 years apart.  What happened in between?  Change.  Disruption.

[Side note, Tony is an investor in New Zealand startups]

Like a sweeper wave, some people get caught unawares.  My attempt to avoid this is to watch out for “recurring themes” in tech, marketing, and business.  The rest of this article is about my recent finds.  Some connect, others are remarkable for different reasons.  

I’ve been podcasting since 2013 and during the latter part of 2018 I saw major brands using the medium for their content marketing – McKinsey, The Economist Intelligence Unit and CapGemini.  This tells me that content marketing is expanding into the audio medium.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  Few brands have enough to say that doesn’t involve their competitors (which they are probably unwilling to discuss in public forum) compared to independent commentators who can speak more freely.  And this fact alone will deter many brands from podcasting.  There are other opportunities for content marketing using audio which are less ’traditional’ than a weekly radio show which brands can usefully use.

My podcast interview with Bob Weir author of “Why Businesses Fail” was published by Access Granted NZ.  His book is a must-read for founders, investors and board members for the insights into the human psyche and how it contributes to business. Business failures are usually preceded by identifiable problems.  Analysing problems at the macro level was an observation which led to me writing Problem Solving for Marketing. The insight connecting these is that correctly identifying the type of problem first, aides finding the right solution.  Is your business situation a “mess”; a “problem”; or a “puzzle”?

If you use email marketing and CRM in your business, here is a very nicely written summary of how one startup uses funnels, lead nurturing, and incorporating Net Promotor Score too.  I don’t know the team but they are a young venture and so starting from scratch has advantages.  A word of warning; anecdotally, Active Campaign is said to be less user-friendly than other comparable software.  [If you want to compare software user views, always check out Trust Radius run by Vinay Baghat – it’s independent and user-led.] 

And although this case study looks amazing, very few brands that I meet use automation, business process flows or sales funnels to this extent.  How does this reflect on the adoption curve for CRM, which I was working on with Peppers and Rogers back in 1997?  Maybe some firms will never use marketing automation or sales lead scoring.

Writing a presentation for the Penrose Business Association brought me to confront my lack of skill using traditional presentation software.  I have found two alternatives Beautiful and Stun, one American and the other Kiwi.  

Finally – the joke’s on you for the Mars Rover whose batteries may have died after 15 years – Brendan Boughan’s Cartoons by Jim captures it perfectly. and flashes back to 1997 when we first got Mars fever and the creatives at HP had a similar vibe going.  One of my favourite laugh-out-loud adverts of the time.

3 Ways to Improve Customer Retention

3 Ways to Improve Customer Retention

Are you looking to build a loyal following among your customers? Great marketing strategies brought them to you, but now it’s your job to keep them. Marketing can only do so much and it is important to understand that there is nothing more effective than customer care when seeking to grow your market. Poor customer service is one of the leading reasons why so many consumers hop from one company to the next, and if you want to keep your current customer base while adding new customers along the way, it would pay to focus on making improvements to customer retentions skills.

Here are 3 of the most important to begin with.

1. Stop Talking and Start Listening

Sometimes it’s hard to stop talking about the products or services you are promoting because you, personally, know what they can do and how effective they are. Unfortunately, all the benefits you might be talking about may not be what the customer is looking for. Instead of giving them a sales pitch, why don’t you listen to exactly what it is they are looking for? What brought them to you may not be what they need, but by listening to them you may be able to provide them with an alternative solution. Consumers are literally fed up with high powered sales techniques and above all, they want to be heard!3 Ways to Improve Customer Retention 1

2. When You MUST Talk – Give Them Something of Value

Sometimes you don’t need to say very much at all if you can point your customers in the direction of where they can find the information they are seeking.

For example, you are explaining a new electronic device your company just launched and a very important feature is the amazing circuitry on the printed circuit board or PCB. Many consumers are technologically challenged, so why not provide an extensive FAQ on your website? Give them information on exactly what a printed circuit board is and why its design is a critical element in your device. Perhaps any safeguards you’ve built in against hardware Trojans can be mentioned so they will know that you care about their security as well as making the almighty buck!

And Air New Zealand helps its customers work out what sort of holiday they prefer using a simple quiz.  This groups customers into segments which will affect future messaging and content served to them.  Gamifying customer segments increases engagement and helps customers to self-identify as different to the brand.

3. Improve Your Own Knowledge

It’s important at this point to know the difference between a consumer who knows little about electronics, for example, and a consumer who is market savvy. Just because they don’t know what a PCB is or how its design can impact the device you are promoting, doesn’t mean they can tell the difference between a salesman and a tech-savvy associate! If you want to retain customers, it pays 3 Ways to Improve Customer Retention 2to learn as much as you can about the products and/or services you offer. You never know when that one answer to an important question a customer comes back with next week is the main reason they stay with your company for future sales.

In the end, it’s all about hearing what your customers are saying so that you can give them well-informed answers to any questions which might arise. If they can believe in you, the person they are communicating with, they can believe in your company. Salesforce says that as many as 70% of customers look for that all-important connection. Do you want to retain customers you’ve sold? Listen to what they are saying! Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.