The stories that we share with you are almost always drawn from FrodX’s business experiences. Most of them are stories of our (potential) customers – slightly disguised and simplified to make them more interesting and shorter. Only a few of them are fictional, even though they might appear genuine as well.

I would like to share my thoughts about the way you should be thinking about your products. I was at a meeting with a potential customer, and they asked for my opinion on their website and online store content. They were mostly interested in making it more interesting and using it more efficiently. It can be slightly awkward to answer such questions when you are trying to do business with them. The content was probably prepared by an agency who charged a lot of money for it, and the person you’re talking to probably made the final call (by the way – there seems to be an unlimited number of communication “experts”). It’s even more awkward if the person asking about your opinion is the author of this content. The worry that the customer may not quite realize what I’m trying to explain is always in the back of my mind. I always face the same problem – no matter what the activity and size of the company are. Sometimes I feel like I have my own “masterpiece” that I must work into every meeting or lecture.

It's not easy to say something is wrong. Customer might not understand what we're trying to explain. Click To Tweet

You can see from the title that this time I was reading content about fertilizers and other gardening accessories. Would I be able to write something more interesting about fertilizer? No. Do I know what people who buy fertilizer want to read? No. Would I be able to create content that excites people, so they visit the store and buy fertilizer? Yes, this I can definitely do. We only need to stop talking about fertilizer, since not many people think about fertilizer as a solution to their problems. The ones who do, don’t need additional content and promotion to buy your product if they know that you sell fertilizer. Marketing should primarily inspire customer needs, and not only respond to existing ones. If you are not doing this, someone else is in charge of your game.

Marketing should primarily inspire customer needs, and not only respond to existing ones. Click To Tweet

Let’s get back to fertilizer. Potential buyers of fertilizer feel that their neighbors’ lawn looks better, and they would like their own lawn to look just as good or maybe even better. This is the problem that they are trying to solve and this is the content that might interest them. Only the question of involving fertilizer in this narrative remains now – along with the lawnmower, lawn aerator, lawn irrigation system, better seeds, moss remover, and most importantly – instructions on lawn care that will make their lawn look better than their neighbors’. Content that builds buying potential for garden products should follow this direction. People are happy to read useful content, and it certainly won’t hurt if it’s fun.

People are happy to read useful content, and it certainly won’t hurt if it’s fun. Click To Tweet

When you are able to communicate the importance of lawns around peoples’ houses, they will want to know how to achieve that goal. If you offer useful tips every week or every two weeks (maybe as a short video, such as “Gardening tips and tricks”) on what to do and how to do it and provide some interaction (so they can show you photographs of their lawn which is important for them) along with some two-way communication, things will certainly start going your way.

I think the real challenge would be selling lawn care as a subscription service, therapy or adventure. The buyer would see you as an integral part of their solution and their road to the desired goal.

At least once a week, I must ask myself about the problems that my customers are trying to solve. Has something changed? Are you also trying to understand the problems of your buyers in your line of work? Sometimes I feel that we are in business only because companies don’t do this. At least not systematically, regularly and comprehensively. Or we are doing well only because companies need an outside perspective and the high prices of our services still justify the value that we provide.

We wish you happy holidays and a successful new year!

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Sometimes I feel that the curse of our business is that so many people feel competent to judge our work. Unlike people in many other industries, the people who work in marketing, product development and customer experience (CX) are constantly faced with opinions and “good natured” advice by others. An unbelievable number of people that observe our work has an opinion about what is good work and what isn’t. Even more than that – they somehow think they know what should be changed. If we want to accommodate our customers, we always have to find a balance between fulfilling their wishes and sticking to our own professional knowledge which can guarantee results that the same customer will expect in a while.

Authority – no disturbance for the price of total responsibility

My wife, a surgeon, never works according to her patients’ rhythm. She doesn’t have to worry about them detailing the way they want to be operated, so they feel better, even though she meets some of her patients just before the operation. It’s difficult for me to imagine the position that doctors have achieved. Even though anyone can see YouTube videos of operations, compare different surgical techniques, learn about theory and practices that Slovenian surgeons don’t even use, patients still believe in the professionalism and good nature of their surgeons. We believe that they will do their job to the best of their abilities. Without any special promises. Without tying a bonus payment to future performance. We just trust them.

When the cooperation terms change, the responsibility for achieving results must be redefined too. Click To Tweet

Being accommodating at the price of achieving success

Please don’t take me wrong – I’m not bothered by calls to argument our point of view and exchange opinions. I’m not bothered that we share a part of the risk with our customers and that we are partially paid according to the success of the implemented changes. But I’m bothered when we must compromise and move away from the previously accepted Customer Engagement Plan that we prepare for every customer at the beginning of our cooperation, especially if we forget to redefine responsibilities upon doing that. We are left with all the responsibility, even though accommodating our customer involved implementing changes that are not acceptable by our standards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7wOJ5qQ-s

Managing responsibility – foundation of long-term partnership

They say experience counts. When someone asks me about the key skill that we need to perform our job, I realize that it involves managing responsibility. The success of the campaign is greatly influenced by changes, such as someone asking for a lighter shade of green, more fashionable font, reducing the tempo of the campaign, reducing the advertising investment, changing the tone of communication, quality of content, taking a break over the holidays… The customer must also be aware of this fact and accept their responsibility. If you warn them about this in time, it turns out that they are prepared to follow the Customer Engagement Plan almost in full, which guarantees results that are not far from expectations.

The responsibility for success (failure) is shared by both parties that accepted the compromise. Click To Tweet

 

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“Every business is all about the price, not only yours”. This is how I always answer such claims and this is how I will answer you.

If you contact the lead towards the end of his/her purchase process, this doesn’t leave enough time to explain the value of your product or service to them. You simply don’t have enough opportunities to make the customer understand, accept and properly evaluate this value.

If you don’t want to debate the price with the customer, you must start communicating soon enough. Click To Tweet

Are you even giving me the opportunity to recognize your value?

It’s true that your story needs a differentiator which you must try to define as an advantage, so you can present it as valuable in the eyes of the buyer. But value doesn’t only come from the technical characteristics of the product. Far from it. The fact is that all industries are under the influence of commodization. This is happening faster and faster. It’s only natural that everything is becoming more or less similar from afar, so it’s hard for the buyer to notice differences. The product itself is often not even that much different. Sometimes the only difference comes from accompanying services, usually customer care. Think about gas and electricity sales – the product is technically the same and there are no major differences in pricing. Or think about selling insulation in construction. Even harder. Among all my friends that have built a house, no one knows exactly what kind of insulation material they have. Far from being able to remember the brand or manufacturer of their insulation material. But something must have influenced their decision. If they haven’t been able to recognize other advantages of chosen materials or providers, it could have only been the price.

What is the value you provide and what is the purchasing process of your customers today?

Whichever way you look at it – if the buyer wants to recognize the advantages, you need to be able to communicate with him or offer him content that makes him recognize these advantages. One or the other – both demand a different approach than before. We have changed our buying habits and we can easily research even the smallest thing on the web or on social networks. This is faster, more elegant and less constricting. Personal contact with the provider comes too late in our purchase process, so they have no chance of influencing our choice and educating us. We are only interested in the price and delivery conditions. We have found everything else in the online content and on social networks. This is how things work in a world where any kind of information is globally available to an engaged buyer. Are you visible enough on its map?

 

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When I’m around marketing people it doesn’t take long to hear them complain about salespeople: “They don’t understand anything. They are impatient savages that destroy everything in their wake. They don’t even know what brand awareness means.” 😉

This debate often amuses me. Most of the time, I’m in the company of women, mostly younger than me. The terminology is very highbrow, some expressions are even unfamiliar to me. But I’m having a hard time understanding the problems they feel. It’s far easier debating about where to buy an 4XL polo shirt for the boss and why is chocolate getting more expensive.

Marketing and sales have a common goal

No offense – salespeople are special in their own way as well. Especially in regards to their view of the marketing department. But enough about that. This is not the point of this post. I only wanted to say that two teams that are natural allies don’t see one another as such in the unified process of customer acquisition and business development. It’s quite sad actually that they cannot see their common goal and codependence. They have a hard time understanding that they should be helping one another for the good of the company and both teams – marketing and sales.

Marketing and sales have a common goal, yet they don’t know how to help one another. Click To Tweet

Since I’ve been hearing that salespeople don’t understand anything, I feel obliged to explain what salespeople do understand.

Lists, lists, lists

Salespeople understand lists. This is how their work begins and ends. It’s all about the lists. If a salesman is to begin working with leads, he first needs a list of potential customers. In the beginning, he needs a list to try and arrange a meeting with a customer to try and explain which of their problems can they solve with his help. In the end, he creates lists of customers where he will be able to seal the deal.

Marketing people: have you ever asked your salespeople whether they needed help in making lists? Better lists lead to better realization of their goals. They aren’t interested in customers that might need your company’s product. They will be much happier if they get a list of customers that are quite likely to need it. Could you prepare better lists for your salespeople than the ones they’re currently using? If you could, you are definitely speaking their language.

If marketing could make a useful list

The list with the contact information of people that gave you their business card in exchange for a teddy bear at an exhibition is not of much use to salespeople. The only thing that such a list guarantees is the work for processing it. If marketing considers something a lead, it doesn’t mean it is a useful lead for sales.

Imagine how much better would this list be if someone in marketing put in some effort and classified these contacts according to their industry and performance indexes or maybe even by size, depending on the product your company is selling. Such a list contains much more data and is much more valuable for the person that is about to establish first contact with the lead. All these parameters enable them to put the customer in context on their first call.

Give the information about your lead that you use for remarking to your salespeople. Click To Tweet

Addressing someone in the context of their expressed interest is the road to success

Let’s be fair! Think about how much value would a list have for the salesperson if every lead had an information about their expressed interest according to their behavior on your website. Not only whether they clicked something or opened an email. You do realize that Amazon, Booking.com or EasyJet know full well what you are exploring when you visit their website. Since the services or products that you viewed on their websites suddenly start appearing in your ads, it is pretty clear that their salespeople could get this information before they call you (from a list, of course).

Context according to recognized patterns is the ultimate value that you can add to a salesperson’s list. Just ask them whether they would need that. If they do, FrodX can provide the technology and skills that are required for making “smart” lists (Prospecting 2.0) for salespeople.

[email protected]

P.S. Are you maybe interested in Prospecting 2.0 as an outsourced service? If you want more information, you are welcome to join us for a coffee.

I keep reading that intelligent processes will replace automated processes. On the other hand, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are striving to become Customer Engagement systems. Consumers (and business buyers) are increasingly well-informed and only acknowledge marketing that helps us, not marketing that yells the loudest. We are becoming aware of our changed buying habits and the fact that salespeople cannot educate customers anymore. Buyers are (mostly) educated by marketing which provides content in (mostly) digital channels. The salesperson only needs to finish the deal if marketing has done its job.

One of our projects has made me believe that salespeople will also lose their role in closing the deal. Let’s say that closing the deal involves two key components: acquiring the order and providing services to the buyer. If intelligent online/mobile agents and connected devices (Internet of Things) can overcome the fears connected to completing the purchase, the seller is only left with supplying the ordered goods – logistics if you will.

The seller only needs to close the deal if marketing has done its job effectively. Click To Tweet

Companies with an excellent online presence that is adapted to individual buyers according to their interests and readiness to buy make the customer journey quite a lot easier for their buyers. The knowledge which is provided by their marketing departments empower their potential customers. They also embolden their competitors who learn to follow them, so slowly a bigger and bigger part of the market acts this way. This means that providers will slowly need to implement a new method to charm customers. Content will no longer suffice, because we are nearing the point of oversaturation. What more could we do to get closer to our customer? Can we bet on the intelligent data that the IT industry likes to promise with their big data perspective and the Internet of Things (IoT)?

How to charm customers? Content won't suffice, since we're nearing the point of oversaturation. Click To Tweet

I can imagine that we’ll be working on completely different projects two years from now – trying to increase sales and acquire new customers for our partners using entirely different approaches. I’m sure that the “closing” part will be automated, simplified and brought closer to the customer in the B2C (not only for FMCG products) segment.

Let me demonstrate. Let’s take Mercator, one of Slovenia’s largest supermarket chains. If you pay or use discounts (collect points) with their Pika loyalty card, this provides Mercator with an overview of your purchases. It provides them with information on how often you shop in their stores and which conditions must be realized for completing your purchases. They also know the contents of your shopping cart. If you visit their online store and you are already registered as its user or just receive their email newsletter and allow cookies on your computer/tablet/smartphone, Mercator should know which products you are interested in and what you are searching for. If these products never appear in your shopping cart, you may be buying them from one of their competitors. Probably because their offer is better. Past purchases and current behavior in online channels should be enough for Mercator to offer an intelligently acting personal shopping assistant to me.

If Mercator proactively fills my typical shopping cart online at the right moment (I do my shopping on Tuesdays and Saturdays) and asks me whether I want it delivered in the evening, it would be hard for me to ignore this. It would save me time on a chore that must be done anyway. This would be much more successful than counting on me to click on products and buy them in their online store on a Tuesday morning. If they are counting on me visiting their brick and mortar store in the afternoon, they may loose my business for the day if I decide to shop in a competitors store that day.

The comfort of buying has its own value (that is why downtown shops are not exactly thriving). Click To Tweet

I would of course expect some initiative from an intelligent assistant – at least compared to the online store where I have to click, search and choose products by myself. This would certainly increase the comfort of my buying experience. Upon confirming my typical shopping cart order, the assistant could try to challenge me a little bit. It could offer 3 products that I am interested in according to my behavior in digital channels. It could then show me how much these products cost in competitors’ stores and offer me to buy them at a lower price. Just this time and just for me. Like a supermarket cashier following me to the parking lot with an additional product offering me a lower price than I would get in competing supermarkets. Many people would probably add such a product to their order.

I am not that price sensitive in my weekly grocery shopping. The comfort of buying has its own value (that is why downtown shops are not exactly thriving). When the seller is upselling or trying to sell an additional product that I seem to be interested in according to my behavior patterns on digital channels, the price of the product in competitive stores may be the key information that I need to complete the purchase in this research phase.

If the merchant doesn’t offer a buying assistant that checks prices and offers “personalized” discounts, a third party may do this and come between them and the buyers. Someone who could quickly make shopping lists from barcodes of products that we buy in supermarkets and won’t hesitate to find our favorite products at stores that offer lowest prices and acceptable delivery rates. The boundaries of such a service are left to the imagination and demands of its buyers. Logistical limitations are also a factor, but technology is quickly removing those as well. Self-driving cars, drones… All these things are not as distant as they seem. It’s a matter of a couple of years and not decades.

 

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It just so happened that my boyfriend and I had to deal with our mobile and internet service providers in the same week. I had a great experience with my provider while he was horrified by his. The crucial difference between our stories? Knowing the customer and their attitude.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I cannot handle being offline, even when my phone is the only available access option. So when my 3G network suddenly dropped in the middle of an urban environment, leaving me only with EDGE data speeds, all my alarms immediately went off. As always, I posted a question for my provider on one of the social networks. They responded immediately and offered possible solutions. They also contacted me in a private message, providing my mobile phone number and asking if that was the phone number that is experiencing problems.

They seem to be very proficient in using their CRM system, so they know that it is a good idea to connect it to social networks. I was extremely impressed by their attitude as well as their overview of my data, and we were able to solve my problem (even if we couldn’t solve it so quickly, their knowledge impressed me so much that I was inclined to forgive and forget). Of course I also praised their customer relation skills on the social network where I posted my question in the first place.

Treat your customers like people, not like focus groups. Click To Tweet

When contracts are signed on parking lots

On the other hand, my boyfriend received a call from the call center of his internet service provider. He has been their customer for more than 5 years and uses their services on two addresses. They offered him a two-year benefit without altering the terms of his contract. He was pleasantly surprised by the call and the offer, but he didn’t have the time to talk to them, so he asked them to call him the next day after 5 PM.

When they called him at 11 AM (?) on the next day, they reached him during his 30 minute break, so he had the time to talk to them. Their agent seemed to be pretty invested, so instead of sending him additional information and documents to sign by mail, he suggested that he could come to my boyfriend’s workplace where he could sign an annex to the contract.

15 minutes later, a black car stops and the agent and his friend (?) come out. They don’t hand an annex to my boyfriend, but a whole new contract. They wanted him to sign a less favorable contract and commit for two years to receive the promised benefit. If they had stored their interactions with him in one place, they could have studied them and seen at least two things: my boyfriend is an extremely demanding customer who always reads everything before signing and takes a much deeper interest in things than usual, but at the same time he is one of their best customers since he: a) always pays his bills on time and b) they have been able to sell additional services (if appropriate) to him on multiple occasions. This could also have told them that there was no chance he would accept a less favorable contract, especially if it involves limiting his internet access in any way.

I‘m left wondering whether they are not using a CRM system or they don’t know how to use it. Both options are equally bad.

Customers have always been demanding, but now we are much louder

And the consequences? Not only did he reject the offer, he sent an email complaint to the provider. But this was only the start of their problems, since this is something customers have always been doing. The problem is that he will share his experience online – on forums and social networks.

While discussing the way modern buyers should be handled, we are constantly faced with a claim that buyers are more demanding today and that they have higher expectations than in the past. This simply isn’t true. Buyers were always demanding. The only difference is that internet and social networks make it a lot easier to share your bad or good experiences with the world. Companies should not only satisfy, but surpass the expectations of customers. This is a logical consequence of that fact and the fact that people have more faith in references (and criticism) by their friends, colleagues and their social network in general. This isn’t as impossible as it sounds. Friendly communication and having the necessary information about customers paired with honesty is enough to satisfy most of us. Cases in which customers demand something that cannot be reached using a combination of these factors are extremely rare.

Customers have always been demanding, but now we are much louder. Click To Tweet

FrodX has published lots of materials on CRMs, but still: a CRM system is just a tool and cannot provide customer service excellence by itself. Since renewing a subscription or repurchasing only requires a symbolic gesture (the possibility of both in existing customers is up to 70%) while acquiring a new customer takes a lot of work and advertising money (the success of which rates up to 20%), it is definitely worth checking your CRM system to see the purchase history of your customers, their behavior during them and view expectations for future purchases.

If you don’t use a CRM system, it is entirely possible that you disappoint your customers every day without even realizing it. If you use a CRM system without defining a CRM process, the system cannot provide data that you need to improve your customer care. Tools are great, yet they cannot do anything without supporting processes that customers can experience themselves.

By not using a CRM you may disappoint your customers every day without even realizing it. Click To Tweet

By the way – what do they post about you?

[email protected]

I believe that this is a very important question when you’re thinking about developing your company or products. Actually, I realized that customers only perceive something as progress if we improve or simplify the things that they don’t want to change or we enable easy access to them.

When I’m thinking about future development needs of FrodX, I always ask myself what customers expect from us today and which of those expectations will remain tomorrow, after a year or even three or five years? This way we are able to plan key guidelines for developing services that our customers will be looking for in the future and there will also be a market demand for them in the future.

There's a big difference between being willing to pay for something and actually paying for it. Click To Tweet

We need to be able to offer:

  • Inspiration for change in business development (product development and addressing buyers).
  • Help that ensures increased sales.
  • Risk management in change implementation.
  • An outside perspective.
  • Payment of services according to their measured business effects.

If we are able to satisfy these expectations by developing new products, we most probably won’t lose our existing customers. It is much more likely that we will gain new customers through recommendations.

There are hundreds of approaches to developing new products. Regardless of the desired methodology, I feel that it is necessary not to lose your perspective and common sense when planning and developing new products. I firmly believe in testing of course, but beware: forget about testing for needs that haven’t materialized yet and testing the purchase potential in customers who don’t need to actually pay for products to become actual buyers. There is a big difference between being willing to pay a hypothetical price tag for a certain product and actually paying for it. If we think about it rationally, the most important and the best foundation for development projects is the assessment of future expectations of existing customers. When you are able to determine them, you will know what optimizes your development.

Are you able to write them down?

 

[email protected]

 

This posts reflects my experience as a business user of Telekom Slovenije mobile phone services exactly 21 days ago and is not a knee-jerk reaction.

It’s dangerous to give ultimate promises to the market. A promise to customers sets a level of expectation and realizing those expectations is crucial for customer satisfaction. If marketing promises more than can be delivered in practice, it only generates unsatisfied customers. The simplicity of communication in today’s hyperconnected world enables these users to quickly and intensively spread their discontent to other users or users of competitive services, which may even turn away potential customers.

The simple fact is that negative messages spread faster than positive ones – not only in Slovenia, but all over the world. Negative messages receive juicy comments at the third social network level – friends of your friends on social networks. Commentators on that level usually don’t personally know the author of the message. Try analyzing messages that reach a certain viral level. What is the percentage of negative ones?

Negative messages spread faster than positive ones. Click To Tweet

What is the key metric for long-term success of a company?

Customer satisfaction is a crucial metric in this regard and every company should rely on it. I’m not saying that every company should measure and monitor customer satisfaction because I want to promote our www.povejsefu.si service (service that enables you to collect your clients’ opinion about the service quality right after the service) – awareness of the importance of customer satisfaction should be a part of every company’s culture. Examples of good practice should be highlighted along with monitoring and training of the employees. Customer satisfaction should always be a topic for company management. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

More than a year ago, I wrote about how our business in Frodx had grown and at whose expense had this happened. Satisfaction of existing customers was a crucial component in this. We try to stay on this route, so most of the measures that Miha and I implement in our company as it grows is focused on keeping customer satisfaction at least on the same level. We feel that this is a key metric for the success of our company. The nature of our business prevents us from measuring the NPS index after every activity, but weekly reports of our success coaches that focus on the benefits and problems of individual customers in specific campaigns or products follow the same core principle. As long as the customers (and ourselves) are aware of the benefits we provide every week, they’ll be happy. If we cannot identify any benefits for them in a given week, we don’t need to ask them whether they are satisfied with our service. Simple, isn’t it?

If you cannot see the benefits that you provide for your customer, you are doing something wrong. Click To Tweet

What could Telekom Slovenije be thinking about?

This long introduction was necessary to contextualize an experience that I recently had on a teambuilding trip with my coworkers – 4 days of sailing in Dalmatia. Without this context, I fear I would be labeled as someone that constantly criticizes companies for his own promotion, especially after my post about cutting my Sava Hotels loyalty card which caused quite a stir.

This is the story. We took off on a Thursday in the middle of the workday. I had great hopes for finishing some urgent work during the five-hour drive to Vodice, but as soon as we entered Croatia, the internet stopped working. I was patient for the first hour and even the second hour, but after that I started doubting my phone, so I reset it a couple of times, checked my settings and checked with my colleagues that use other network providers if they have internet access. After 3 hours without it, I realized that only Telekom users didn’t have internet access in Croatia, so I contacted their call center. This was a start of an adventure that no (business) user would want to experience again.

Since I wasn’t driving the car, I had some free time to wait for an available call center operator. This involved exactly 12 minutes and 13 seconds of listening to their advertisements in which they call themselves Slovenia’s no. 1 operator. At the same time, I could hear incoming emails on my colleague’s phone – he uses the cheapest available cellular plan on the T2 network. I admit it, after being exposed to their advertisements in combination with really bad elevator music for 12 minutes and 13 seconds, I had problems keeping my cool while talking to the young lady on the other side of the line. The script that she was following and was supposed to help her deal with angry customers didn’t do her any favors either. Just the opposite. I was even angrier after constantly hearing “Sorry, I cannot hear you well. Hello, Sir, can you hear me?…”. Not to mention her admission that there was an error in their systems and that service technicians had already been dispatched.

At the end of this conversation, I waited so I could grade my satisfaction with the help they offered. I was hoping someone in charge would end up listening to this conversation, since I gave it the lowest possible grade. FrodX is supposed to have a key account manager in Telekom, and in my opinion, this person was supposed to detect this “incident”, contact and nurture their customer shortly after this happened. If our account manager called us a day later, apologized and maybe offered a couple of days of free roaming in Croatia, I’d be telling everyone how Telekom turned into a customer-oriented company and how pleasantly surprised I was. How much would doing something like that cost? I don’t believe it costs much if anything at all. It would have also been a great opportunity to feel out the customer and see if they could sell us anything else. Not a lot of skill is involved – you only need to know how to leave a good impression.

Identify unsatisfied customers that may share their negative experiences and nurture them. Click To Tweet

Another takeaway for Telekom

Since I always try to offer information that would inspire or at least educate someone in my FrodX blog posts, I am offering an idea for consideration. Only a fraction of the money that Telekom spends on promotion and expanding the reach of marketing messages would suffice to improve the level of services and nurturing of their business customers better. Business customers are prepared to spend more on telecommunication services because our business depends on their quality. Quality mostly (but not exclusively) depends on reliability.

What do I hear as a business user while listening to the advertisements for the no. 1 network in Slovenia?

– If I require support and contact the call center, I won’t wait more than 1 minute to start my conversation with the operator. Calls from business users could be diverted to a separate queue, so they could receive priority treatment.

– Identify unsatisfied customers that may share their negative experiences and nurture them. Also find customers that are very satisfied and ask them to recommend you to their friends. If customers don’t leave a satisfaction score after the call, send text messages to remind them. Our experience shows that 30% to 40% of customers respond to such reminders.

– Account managers should be aware of any conversations that business users have with your support staff (especially the ones with poor grades), and listen to them. They need to calm and nurture the customer so they can identify new business opportunities for Telekom. They could always assume that people in trouble need something. Some need a comforting word, others need an additional service or accessory.

– Advertisements don’t leave a positive impression on me when I’m waiting for help (obviously because I’m having problems with the service) – I’m not thinking about new purchases. Playing a notification about problems in the system would be more helpful. Perhaps it would be enough to calm me down. Anyone who called their call center from Croatia on 15. 10. 2015 could have heard a message informing them of internet access issues which are being solved. Information about the deadline for solving them would also be great. In my case, I would have been spared from waiting for 12 minutes and spared from losing my temper while talking to the support representative. This would also help call center operators do their job better.

– Relevance of information or user context according to their mobile services plan and current location is crucial. The text message that I receive upon entering another country only serves to confuse me, since it mentions cost that does not apply to my mobile services plan. I repeatedly wonder whether my option for unlimited conversation and data transfer in the EU had been cancelled.

Yes, business users demand better user support. This is a simple fact and the reason we are willing to pay extra.

If new technologies don’t leave room to improve telecommunication services, this doesn’t mean that development had stopped. As far as I’m concerned, there is plenty of room to invest in technologies for better user support and transforming subscription service companies into customer-oriented companies. This is an increasingly important differentiation factor for providers – even subscription-based ones.

[email protected]

Last weekend, I went to a movie theatre to watch a silent movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one. It was the German black and white classic – Pandora’s box – the charming Louise Brooks was playing the seductive Lulu. I was sitting in my chair, and enjoying the live piano score. Yet after only a few moments, I started fidgeting in my chair and looking around. Something was missing, and it wasn’t only the sound, but the action, dynamic editing, special effects and all the other ingredients of modern high-budget movies.

Quite some time had to pass, before I was able to tell myself that I chose this movie myself, so I was able to recollect my thoughts and concentrate on the on-screen action – the acting, small, almost unnoticeable expressions, flirtatious smiles, interesting directing choices, the story and the script. Everything that makes a movie good – its content.

After more than two hours, I left the movie theatre with a warm feeling inside. I was sure I chose the right movie – I’m going to be thinking about it for at least a couple of days. Since I’m always looking for new topics for the FrodX blog, it didn’t take very long for me to be sitting at my computer, thinking about the lessons that people in modern marketing can learn from silent movies.

It obviously cannot tell us a whole lot if we stick to the old-school definition of marketing that treats marketing and advertising almost as synonyms. This, according to Seth Godin, makes marketing just a tool to create more advertising noise holding on to an at least partially honest and naive hope that this will help us sell more. (Honest because no one doubts that you wish to offer your product or service to as many buyers as possible. Naive because most of your competitors think this way as well and you can be sure there will always be someone that has a bigger advertising budget than you. What will you do then?)

Marketing shouldn’t be a chance for more advertising noise in a world that's too noisy already. Click To Tweet

We cannot learn much from them if we still believe that marketing communication is a one way street, screaming that our offer is the cheapest, the most current, the most exclusive, the most attractive, the sexiest, the fastest, the hottest and simply the best. Modern buyers are turned away by these approaches – they imply that they are ignorant fools if they don’t decide to buy your product or service. You probably don’t want to imply that, do you?

Yet we can learn a lot if we believe in a two-way communication in marketing. We need to ease up on the sweet talk and focus on information that solves the true problems of our customers even before they decide to buy. Buyers are just as intelligent as we are and they have a better understanding of their problems (no matter how hard we try to convince them that we completely understand them), so they will quickly see which content really helps them and which content is just nothing but fancy worded fluff. They will be happier if we let them just study the materials that we prepared for them. Your marketing team will have to work much harder, but the results will be worth it. Just like in silent movies that require audiences to focus, since the dialogs (intertitles) in silent movies are limited to content that cannot be shown through acting and directing.

Marketing communication is a two-way street and helps potential customers solve their true problems. Click To Tweet

Godin wrote years ago that content marketing (or permission marketing as he originally called it) is the only remaining viable marketing type. When I am writing about such marketing, I am focusing on the creative approach to content that benefits potential customers who want to receive such content. This is why I’m comparing movies to marketing instead of cricket for example. This is why your company should consider what to offer as useful content along with your products and services. You probably care about your customers and in a world where marketing approaches are in trouble, your customers will appreciate that you treat them as equals and only bother them when you have something interesting to share. Content that will encourage them to come back to you again and again.

And trust me, I’m going to see another silent movie soon enough.

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This post offers some practical advice on a topic that we’ve covered multiple times. It’s one of the most important aspects of customer relations, yet we find bad practices over and over again. Content marketing is all the rage right now and everyone wants to do it, and this is reflected in its quality. Like any other thing, we must first think things through before we jump. Cover our basics. Form a strategy. Think it through and then start working.

Of course, giving advice is one thing while actually doing something is something completely different. We are painfully aware of that in FrodX. So today, I am writing about the three most common mistakes that we notice on websites that (often) sell products or (less often) services. Good content is especially important for them, since it’s more or less all they have – at least in the beginning. Recommendations of satisfied customers will follow later, but differentiating content is the only solution in the beginning. It lowers the cost of acquiring customers and convinces existing customers into repurchasing. Content marketing is a really good approach, but only if we do it right. Otherwise it can do more harm than good. Who would want to buy anything from a seller whose content isn’t relevant nor useful and some of it even completely misses the mark?

If you try to please everyone, no one will like you in the end. Click To Tweet

What are the 3 most common mistakes?

1. If you’re addressing everyone, you’re not addressing anyone.

This is not only true for marketing. It’s the same in public relations if my years of working in that field have taught my anything. If you try to please everyone, no one will like you. Yet many people in marketing think that everyone in the world needs their product or service, which is a big mistake.

Narrow down your audience. Describe your typical buyer in great detail. Focus on one at first, you can add more later. When I started working in FrodX, this seemed like a useless task. Only later did I figure out that I cannot write, think or offer our services without having the image of a typical buyer in my mind.

How can you tell whether you have a well-rounded image of your typical buyer? If you do, you can answer the following questions:

  1. What is his name?
  2. How many typical buyers do you have? (more than 2 is too much)
  3. How old is he?
  4. Where does he work?
  5. What are his hobbies?
  6. What does he do in his free time?
  7. What is his family life like?
  8. Where does he buy clothes?
  9. Which blogs/magazines/newspapers does he read?
  10. iPhone/Samsung/Windows phone?
  11. Which problem does your product or service solve?
  12. What are his fears or doubts that you have to answer before he can make a purchase?

If you cannot provide a detailed answer to these questions, you still haven’t finished creating your image of a typical buyer. I have long thought that the last two questions are the only ones that really matter, but if you really want to study your buyer and understand his problems, you must have answers for the first ten as well. Don’t rush – start with one typical buyer and add new ones later. This way you can concentrate on one buyer and create relevant content that will be appropriate for your entire audience.

2. Don’t rely on paid ads to acquire new leads.

Especially not instead on relying on creating good (relevant and useful) content. Throwing your money into paid ads is not a magic wand for ensuring an unlimited stream of new leads. Not only because of the increasing cost. Your competitors will drive up the price of clicks and keywords, which will in turn increase the cost of your advertising campaigns.

Paid ads aren’t a magic wand for ensuring an unlimited stream of new leads. Click To Tweet

Good content will improve your rating in search engines and enable potential customers to find you through organic search. Successful, above average brands are extremely serious about content preparation and invest in the following things instead of investing in paid advertising:

  • Every sales website needs a blog, and this blog should be a priority. You need to publish (at least) two posts a week on this blog. I know this is hard (it’s hard to even publish one good post every week), but there is no other way. Consistent posting is half the effort.
  • Your product pages must be an example of a great user experience. Your goal should be providing an intuitive presentation of the product/service as well useful and quickly accessible information.
  • Let your content be your salesman that disperses doubt and fear from the minds of your potential customers in a friendly way. You should provide content that answers the questions of potential buyers, case studies, links to customer testimonials about your product/service… All of this will help convince potential customers that they can trust you.
  • Posts on social networks are a special chapter. I can only advise you not to be too aggressive in your sales approach. Try to also share things that are not directly related to your product. This doesn’t mean that your posts should only contain images of cats and babies, but try to find a balance between being useful and being fun. Overdoing one thing or another is never good.
  • Email remains the best marketing channel. Of course, you cannot use it without smart segmentation and content that focuses on a specific target group. What would your typical buyer want to receive? What would they want to know? If your message impresses him, he will remember you the next time he needs to buy something. And another thing. Nowadays, most emails are opened and read on mobile devices.

All of that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be using paid advertising. Measure, monitor, analyze and figure out what pays off and what doesn’t, then adapt your paid ads to those findings.

3. If you don’t nurture your leads, they’ll go elsewhere.

Lead nurturing is an important concept in B2B, but there is no reason it shouldn’t be used by B2C companies. Lead nurturing is especially useful to any B2C company that sells products or services which require thinking before buying.

If you don’t nurture your leads, they’ll go elsewhere. Click To Tweet

3 simple ways of nurturing

Nurturing before completing a sale

Collecting leads and nurturing them up to the point they make a purchase is not only a job for B2B companies. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling cosmetics, books or shoes – it’s entirely possible that the visitors of your website aren’t ready for a purchase when they first visit it. A good example of creating such content is the Slovenian online footwear store obutanoga.si which also offers useful advice about shoes and invites you to subscribe to their email newsletter. It will be especially interesting when they add guides and downloadable e-books that will provide them with even more information about their leads. They can offer different content to nurture these leads until they make a purchase, especially since they have so much information about them.

Handling abandoned shopping carts

Users sometimes fill their shopping cart, and leave the website without finishing their purchase. This is when a short string of nurturing messages is triggered that try to convince them that they should complete their purchase. This is especially effective if you have data about the buyer that abandoned the shopping cart and you are able to send him targeted messages.

Personalized nurturing of existing buyers

Online shopping can be very impersonal, even though you know a lot about your buyers. Use all this data to build a relationship with them and don’t forget to segment them according to the products they bought and create up-sells and cross-sells. You can send them messages with birthday discounts or discounts at the anniversary of their first purchase. Marketing automation enables you to implement all of these things and leaves your buyers impressed with your attitude and attention (if you don’t overdo it).

You can launch an online store today without much effort. Building a base of loyal customers and a foundation for acquiring new ones is a more difficult task, so you should focus on this. This is no longer reachable only to large companies with lots of resources – anyone can do it if they have good ideas, know who to address, and know how their product helps their target audience.

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