I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak about CRM, email and marketing strategy at the Southeast Building Conference #SEBCVille last week at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Hotel near Disney World. My session was focused on customer centricity and how to be the driver rather than the passenger in the customer conversation. If you would like a copy of my deck, please contact me.
While there, I was able to attend a couple of other sessions and it was good to hear others having the same conversation, even using similar analogies of cars. I sat in on the session by Steve Coughran at Coltivar Group and I loved his description of how businesses continue to miss the opportunity to focus on customers. He called it the "Me Car." In essence what he talked about is that in conversations, sales teams and even in marketing materials we tend to focus on the company rather than trying to listen to and understand the customers needs and presenting compelling content that they care about.
As someone who started out my career on the market research side of marketing, I have always been a big proponent of using those tools to better understand prospects and customers. Today we have even more! Here's some things to consider doing if you are not already.
Either on line or in person, don't let someone out of your sphere without trying to obtain some level of information and insight from them. People are usually happy to tell you things about themselves. Who doesn't like to talk about themselves? You could do web based surveys to understand the things people like about your site, test different experiences and more. See a few of these type tools here. Phone surveys are great for customer service insights. How many times have you heard the message: "Please take a moment to answer a few questions about the call..?"
While at Centex Homes, I instituted a model center survey program that was part of the sign in process for visitors who came to the model homes. At my session at SEBC, I talked about the insights we gained from this work. Within only 18 months, across our Divisions we had over 8,000 completed surveys. We analyzed these to understand our segments needs in a home, their motivations for purchase, what influenced their visit and the features of the homes that were important to them. These insights about the segments helped inform product design and features, sales team scripts, marketing activities and more.
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Some think the concept of Net Promoter Score is dead, however, I disagree. This metric is a good tracking tool over time to understand where you are and to benchmark your performance against industry norms and overall. It helps you keep a pulse on the sentiment and combined with other survey insights can provide great content. When I went to the Home Storage company I worked for several years ago, they had great creative and rudimentary understanding of their consumer targets, but hadn't done a deep dive or built a "culture of learning." I started this CSAT study in my first 30 days and began a process that not only trended the company Net Promoter Score but provided insights that informed product, customer service and much more. We disseminated the commentary from the surveys to the appropriate departments for continuous improvements in all these areas. This led to the institution of additional insight collections specific to customer service, our business partner channels and other ad hoc insights that were needed to better understand our customers and prospects.
It was all about being customer centric and understanding the customer and making them core to the way we ran the business. Here's a slide I borrowed for my presentation that I think does a good job of describing at a high level what is needed to be customer centric.
This blog is about email, so I would be remiss in not mentioning how to use email to drive customer centricity. Email communication should not be one way. It is a great engagement tool and way to obtain insights in "sound bytes." This can be helpful to continue learning throughout your relationship. Also, while at Centex, we implemented a robust CRM communications program that was founded on the customer journey and the understanding that it was a long process. Central to that was where our prospect was in the process. We crafted unique communications flows based on this timing presenting content that was relevant for each phase. We initially asked them where they were in their process and got them to tell us "how long until you plan to make a decision." We continued to ask this question in every email communication, so if circumstances changed, they could let us know and we could move them to a different communications track. We also used behavioral triggers to move people into different communications paths. So for example, if someone asked a very specific question in response to an email, an online consultant was automatically notified and a personal phone call follow up was made.
Every touch point with your prospects and customers should be a learning opportunity. Being open to the voice of the customer and building tools and processes to learn from those interactions will help you drive a business that matters and is responsive to the needs of your customers which naturally leads to profitability and success.
Your CRM then becomes the repository of this learning so that you maintain the "one truth" of the customer that provides you the insights and tools you need to grow a profitable business.
So, as I said in my presentation, here's the things that you need to drive the customer relationship and build your business:
- Customer focused leadership is key