When was the last time you did a quick market reality check to test your assumptions about what you do that keeps your customers in your corner? No, I’m not suggesting a survey. I propose you try a much simpler approach, something that easily helps you simultaneously help them.
Your why makes you memorable
When you invite customers or employees to be curios or start a conversation, do you ever ask yourself why you took the time, or why you care about their reaction, whether their responses matter? Do you ever assume the other role, think about why your customers would be interested in engaging with you? What you do has two sides; and yet is it the same value on both sides?
If you know your end game and how your efforts to engage customers gets you there, then measure and share that internally as widely as possible, and then begin to report it externally. You’ll discover the true meaning behind Peter Drucker‘s adage, that what gets measured, gets done. So why not focus attention on the very elements that demonstrate purpose and create consistent value from all perspectives?
Start with Feedback
Whether you have a newsletter, use regular outbound communication, or just ask for comments or feedback online, make sure the copy delivers on the answers you just gave to the double-sided why. The questions are harder to answer than their simplicity suggests. Engagement is not the same as attention and revenue follows one and not the other.
The Harvard Business Review Blog published yesterday an obituary for the death of marketing. In this post, Bill Lee does a great job showing how challenging it is to communicate your meaning and he also identifies a series of corrective tactics, but none of them will help you if you can’t answer for yourself the double-sided why.
A better beginning, before you start additional strategic planning, or publish upcoming budget guidelines, I suggest using the remaining weeks of summer to conduct some simple experiments.
Take a few weeks to stop, look and listen. Learn what your employees are saying in the hallways, the parking lot and the natural way they carry themselves, their changing energy in the course of the day. Similarly, notice your customer’s expression when they arrive and when they leave. Connect the observations to their behavior. Try not to do it big brother style, maybe hire a sketch artist to sit at the entrance or main traffic corridor.
Spend a few weeks picking up the phone, or dropping a few personal notes, reaching out with no direct expectation to randomly selected customers and employees. Drop-in, notice the environment and feel the attitude as well as the climate, consider how the physical space controls behavior both positively and negatively. Collect information and then in a few weeks gather your senior team to review it objectively with no expectation other than surprise to discover what works, what comes back when, why and with what feedback.
3 Simple outreach tips
Here are three things that you can do today to provoke engagement with employees and/or customers.
1. Thank them. Thank them for being your customer and let them know that you appreciate their business. A thank you reminds your customers you are there, ready, willing and able to serve their needs.
2. Share some news that might interest them. This means you have to know something about your customers, their interests, their aspirations and their concerns.
Its easy in light of a national tragedy like the senseless violence in Colorado to merely let them know how you, in your business contributed to ease the pain. Perhaps you sent a donation to a charity that reminded you that actions make a difference. The trick? Connect your news to boost the spirits of your customers, let them know that they inspired you to take actions.
3. Share a nice memory. Nothing warms people more than when someone else shares something personal. The story or moment you describe and share by definition must be personal, something about you and your business that reminds them that you are human, that reveals a little more about what you value in life.
At the end of the day, we all want security but with inspiration we all do better. Feel free to share that tag line.
Try it and share
Remember these are merely tips, designed to stir up your own thinking and I’m just as interested in hearing from you as you may be in learning about others. Hope you will consider dropping a line or sharing what you are learning or the technique that you plan to try, you tried and what works and what doesn’t.
In the last few weeks, I have followed my advice and the results are already surprising me. I don’t wait to ask my clients or prospects, I’ve asked everyone 5 key questions. I’ll be sharing those results in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more tune-up tips.