Here’s an unhappy customer story (or two)

customer service is part of your branding too

Customer service is part of your branding too.

You know all those pretty visuals you’ve got for your branding? It ain’t worth a scrap if you don’t treat your customers right. Yeah yeah nup; in the last few days I’ve been witness to some fairly unpleasant interactions.

Like at the takeaway counter when a customer queried his change, and the embarrassed sales assistant spent a silly amount of time fluffing over a calculator, then finally and hurriedly shoved the money into his hand and simply looked away.

He was polite, she was SO not. Not even a quick “sorry”.

Whaaaat!? Seriously, good manners cost nothing, and will vastly improve your chances of repeat business. (I doubt that customer will be back, even though the food is excellent.)

Like when I was at another business waiting for something to be finished, and they kept telling me, “won’t be much longer” and it ended up taking HOURS. (At least I got a brief apology.)

I mean, let me know how long it’s actually going to take and I will happily organise my life around that – I have plenty of things to do. Don’t coddle me along with a vague half-truth (because of course, hours are less than days and in that sense, no it’s not a long time). But now, I’m peeved because they weren’t straight with me, and made me late.

 

Always, always, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think what they’re thinking.

 

And yes, the same goes for me.

I had an unhappy customer a short while ago. I was mortified. I wrote to her, explaining what we’d done and what she’d achieved, offered a couple of ways to rectify the problem, and sent her a copy of my e-book. But she was dismissive and fairly ungracious about the situation, and demanded a refund.

Ouch. That REALLY hurt. Not the refund of course, but the fact that I had disappointed someone so badly. Was I really so hopeless at delivering the service?

But after going through some angst and thinking about what the actual problem was, I realised that it boiled down to the fact that her expectations of what she was getting didn’t match with what I was offering. And so in that sense, yes it’s my fault because I didn’t make it clear what she would get. When I delivered something different to what she was expecting, she got cranky.

 

(And just a sidenote here: Always be gracious. Whether you’re a customer or a business owner, good manners work both ways.)

 

Now, I’m re-writing my sales copy so that there’s no mistaking what’s on offer. I’ve already re-written my intro to this service so everyone’s clear from the get-go. Everybody wins from this – I get the right customers, and they get exactly the service they’re wanting and expecting.

So the moral of these stories is, at EVERY interaction with your customer, try and think what they’re thinking. Because if you don’t… unhappy customers. They won’t come back. And they’ll tell their friends about their bad experiences.

And these interactions start early – not when they’re actually putting money on the counter, but when they first clap eyes on you. When they first see your website. When they see your happy, smilin’ face in your profile shot. When they read your About page. When they read your sales copy. When they read your testimonials.

 

Those interactions continue throughout the transaction.

Your relationship with your customer starts when they first clap eyes on you, and does not end… Click To Tweet

 

How easy is it it for them to contact you and ask questions? How clear are you about what exactly it is that you’re offering (is there anything you’re specifically not offering?) How easy is it to buy something from you (what’s your cart system like?) How long do they have to wait for delivery? What should they have at the end of the transaction? (This last one’s especially important for service-based businesses.)

And at the end – how can you delight your customer, so that they become repeat customers and raving fans? So that they talk about you with a happy face, and recommend you to their friends?

To know what’s in their heads at every turn of the transaction might seem like an impossible task.

 

But it’s so much easier if you know exactly who your ideal customer is.

 

Who are they? What are they looking for? What are they aspiring to, and how can you help them achieve that?
Talk to them. Ask them.

And remember, every unhappy customer is a chance to learn, to improve, so that your next customer experience is a wonderful one.

 

Spread the love.

Julie x

Looking for your ideal customer? Here’s where to find them

looking for your ideal customer

 

OK, so you’ve got a fabulous product that you’re head and heels totally in love with and you can’t stop talking about it.

But you know, there’s one thing missing. HAVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED YOUR CUSTOMER?

When you aim for everything you hit nothing, so they say. If you try to appeal to everyone, then you’re appealing to no one.

The only real way to have a product that sells is for it to solve a problem for your customer, fill a need, or make them feel great about themselves. (And you can figure out who they are here.) Ask yourself what does your product or service help them with (for instance, if you’re a fine art photographer, your product helps them with their interior design; or if you sell baby clothes, you make them feel great by having a well-dressed baby). You absolutely need to get inside your potential customer’s head and figure out what it is that they’re wanting. And to do this, you need to be as specific as possible about who they are. (Yes, there is definitely trial and error and a certain amount of guesswork in this. But the more you do business with them, the more you’ll find out about them, so just keep going.) And when you know who they are and what they want, you can start to speak their language, and ask them the questions they’re asking themselves.

Because when you speak the same language, when you have the same world view as them, you automatically make an emotional connection and that’s the key to turning them into paying customers. You’ve built up rapport and trust. And when you deliver what they want, they’re so thrilled with what you do that they not only become return customers, but they spread the word about how fantastic you are. 

Ba-BAM! Business explosion! Right?

Hmmm yes well it’s all very good in theory, but WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU FIND THOSE DAMN CUSTOMERS? You can have THE best product in the world – one that’s going to end global poverty, keep the oceans free from waste, and make small children excited about keeping their rooms tidy – but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point?

You need to get out there and find those customers.

SO here are my top seven tips for searching out and connecting with your tribe.

  1. Facebook groups – Listen, as much as you hear all the time that FB “isn’t worth the effort” because they limit and fuss around with what everybody gets to see in their feed, I absolutely believe that it’s still worth getting in there and using it – for all sorts of different reasons. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use it!How FB decides what goes into people’s feeds is based on a number of factors, pretty much centred around how active the group/page is.  So if you’re in there posting every day, AND your people are commenting and liking on your posts, then your posts will be shown to more and more people. The trick is to make your posts engaging for your people – ask them about themselves (because people love talking about themselves); ask provocative questions (only if they’re relevant); entertain them with a (relevant) beautiful or amusing image.The bonus is that by asking questions, you find out heaps more about the folk who DO like your page! Use that knowledge to fine-tune your ideal customer profile.”But I only have a tiny FB following” you moan! Well I say, have you invited all of your FB friends to like your page? Your family? Asked your close friends if they mind sharing your page with their friends? Posted links to your FB page on your website? On other social media? Round ’em up, get them engaged, post shareable content, and you are well on your way to growing your following.

    JOIN OTHER FB GROUPS. Have you engaged in other groups to let them know who you are and what you’re doing? It doesn’t have to be all icky push and salesy (and it’s better if you aren’t) – many business groups have set days where you encouraged to share what you do and what you’re offering (for instance #PromoThursday), and sometimes people straight-out ask for particular services in these groups too – so make sure you’re around and can put your hand up! Search some hashtags to find relevant conversations about what you’re doing – this will not only allow you to see what people are asking for in your niche (so you can help tailor your services), but you can also find other groups to join. Win-win!

  2. Twitter and Instagram. Use the same strategy with your other social media –  Follow others AND ENGAGE WITH THEM, offer up good content, and use the hashtags – they’re a great search tool for finding other conversations that are happening in your niche.
  3. Pinterest – is not really ‘social’ media in the same sense that the other three biggies are. If you use it, think about how often you actually engage with the people you follow – hardly ever, right? It’s primarily a search tool for finding stuff you’re interested in (especially pretty stuff). BUT, it’s still a rich source of information about your potential customers – use the search tool to see what others are pinning, and particularly what has been pinned from your website – this will give you the best ideas about what your customers actually DO love the most (so you can keep doing more of it. You can find yourself by using www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com – and seeing what pops up.
  4. Use search engines. Google your business’s keywords and see what other conversations you can find from potential customers. You might find a great forum, or another fantastic website with a heap of interesting comments. Depending on what you find, you can join in the discussion and help out with excellent advice – people will love you for it.
  5. Guest blog about your area of expertise on a site you admire. Reach for the stars – go the Huffington Post if you dare!  If you’re not quite there yet, simply look around at the sites that you love reading and approach them for guest posting opportunities. Some don’t accept guest posts and that’s OK, but many do. Once you’ve found a site you’d like to try, make sure you do 5 minutes research and find out the name of the person you need to be writing to. I DON’T open emails that start with “Hello blogowner”, and rarely open ones that start with “Hi there”. But if it’s got “Hi Julie”, I’ll read it.Keep your proposal short and sweet – start with why you love their blog, what area of expertise you have, and a couple of suggestions for topics that are closely aligned with THEIR audience.  You might like to include a couple of links to your best articles. Be beautiful, be polite and say thank you for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them. And follow up – if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, contact them again with a short, polite reminder, because hey, sometimes things get put aside and forgotten! We’re all human.
  6. Reach out to other people in your niche for a collaboration. Find others with complementary skills/products – what can you do to collaborate? How can you benefit both audiences with a super valuable offer? Join forces, brainstorm, get it out there and you’ve doubled your audience! Magic.
  7. Start up a mailing list. Probably THE best strategy ever for connecting with your customers. You know that if they sign up to your list, they’re already interested in what you do. So make sure you have plenty of opportunities for them to do so – on your website sidebar, on your “About” page, and on your “Contact” page.And reward them for it. Most people don’t bother signing up to a list that merely promises “regular updates” (unless of course you’re Seth Godin). If you’re selling products, you could offer to put them in a draw for a prize each month, or you could write a short e-book on your area of expertise. If you’re a jeweller for instance you could offer your best tips and tricks on looking after jewellery, and/or how to look after it while travelling. If you’re a portrait photographer, you could offer a round-up of your best tips on how to prepare for a shoot – what to wear, makeup, choosing a location, how lighting can effect the mood of your shoot, etc. If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple matter of offering an intro or brief version of one of your paid courses.

 

So that’s it! There are LOTS of different ways of searching out and connecting with those beautiful customers; you’ve just got to put in the time.

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BACK TO YOU! Have you found some innovative ways to connect with your customers? What’s your best customer-connection story? I’d love to hear! Pop a comment in the box below, share your biz name and how you’ve connected, and you never know – you might just connect with some other great people here too!

Julie x

Who is your ideal customer? How to figure them out with mood boards

who is your ideal customer

 

Who IS your ideal customer, and why do you need to know?

Because if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then in reality, you’re actually appealing to no one. You’re boring.

“Next…”

And because if your website conveys a vibrant, fun and youthful business personality, then that’s no good if your ideal customer is the mature, conservative bank manager type (OK maybe I’m being a bit mean to bank managers… I’m sure some of them dye their hair purple and listen to experimental electronica).

The point is, it’s vitally important to know who you’re selling to so you can gear the mood of your business personality towards them.

One method of getting to grips with your customer is to use a mood board (have you used one for your business personality as well? You should – just keep these boards separate – you’ll see why in a minute).

Now, I know there are lots of people who have a bit of a haphazard attempt at putting together a mood board for their biz via Pinterest and the like. However, it’s not just “whatever you like” – it needs to be more strategic and there is definitely a method to using mood boards in order to extract the information you need. That’s because you’re coming at it from two points of view – what you want your business to look like, and who your IDEAL CUSTOMER is. It’s like those Venn diagrams you learnt about in high school (you know, the ones where two circles overlap) – the area in which these two groups of things overlap is the sweet spot you should be aiming for. If you’ve got the right business for YOU, those two circles should have a pretty big overlap.

It’s most important to focus on your ideal customer, and what you want your business to look like will grow fairly naturally out of that – because you’re picking the pictures, right!? My best tip is to do this via Pinterest, because it’s so easy to find pics that suit. Better still, when you’re using Pinterest you can research things that are harder to investigate from the comfort of your own armchair (unless you’re a complete magazine/TV junkie…).

If you know exactly who your ideal customer is that’s great, but if you’re a bit fuzzy on them, that’s OK; you will probably know a little bit about them anyway.

Get a sheet of paper, and title it “My ideal customer”. Start with the basic demographics – stuff like gender, marital status and family situation, income level, education, and culture/race (if it’s important – for some products it can be).

Next, it’s time for a bit of educated guesswork about some other aspects of your customer’s likes and dislikes, and so you need to get into their head a bit more. Really, take a guess – because as we said at the start you need to appeal to someone. And as your business grows and you get to see more of your customers, then the more you will refine your ideal customer and figure out how to appeal to them. So have a think about these questions, and write down your answers.

1. What are their goals and aspirations?

2. What do they read? Magazines? Blogs? Books? You can list broad genres, but also get specific and list titles.

3. Where do they hang out – in real life, and online? There are some great infographics out there that match demographics to the different types of social media they use – for instance Facebook users tend to be a bit older because they like the chat as well as the pictures, Instagram tends to be a younger crowd; it’s more visual and faster.

4. What’s an average day like for them?

5. (And this comes back to the all-important connection between your product and your ideal customer!) What problem do they have that your product solves, and what do they hope to experience when they use your product?

 

OK! Still will me? Good.

 

Get on over to Pinterest.

Ask yourself, what magazines does your “IDEAL CUSTOMER” like to read? Are they likely to read Better Homes and Gardens? Or Frankie? Or the Renegade Collective? Or Country Living? Concentrating on these style magazines is great, because each of them has a very distinct aesthetic and focus, and you can get a very strong vision of what kind of lifestyle your customer is aspiring too and what they like to surround themselves with. You can soon figure out whether they are likely to live in an apartment in the city, or a comfy family home in the suburbs.

In Pinterest, search your magazine title, and pin a bunch of images from what comes up. Pin lots. What interior decoration images are there? What colours come up – are they muted and soft, or lots of neutrals with pops of bright colour? How does the style make you feel? For instance, Better Homes and Gardens is very comfy and family home oriented, while Frankie is younger and a retro feel with lots of ditsy floral prints in soft colours.

Work your way through the images you’ve chosen and try and pick out the common things you see – colours, patterns, textures, and how those images make you feel – heroic? glamorous? cosy?

Now go back to your “Ideal Customer” page, and go through those answers again. Is there anything that doesn’t fit? Cross it out. Is there anything you’ve missed? Add it in. Is there some new insight into their aspirations? Write some more.

Write it down. It’s your reference sheet, for whenever you come up with a new product idea, or a new marketing idea, or someone approaches you for a collaboration, or…    Then ask your ideal customer if it’s something they’d be interested in. If not, put the idea aside and move onto something that will be more to their liking.

And yay, look at those Pinterest boards again and you’ve got some great colour palettes to work with for your own branding as well!

 

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG - look at those colours!

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG – look at those colours 🙂

 

A last word from the wonderfully astute Tara Gentile.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome. People buy because it makes them feel awesome. - Tara Gentile Click To Tweet

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Got any questions about your ideal customer?  If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. the launch of The Clarity Sessions – One on One Brand Coaching is only TWO DAYS AWAY! Get in on the ground floor and get a huge early bird discount on this service, by jumping on the mailing list below! {And there’s a free consultation as well} )