Category Archives: Customer Service

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What’s Your Signature Response to Problems?

What’s Your Signature Response to Problems? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

One of the ways to create goodwill, positive buzz, and happy customers is to exceed expectations. Responding proactively to problems is, in my opinion, one of the easiest ways to exceed the expectations available.

Problems happen, that’s a fact. You can choose to respond to customer challenges, problems, let downs, screw-ups, and mistakes in one of two ways. You can ignore them and create the kind of friction that drags your trust into the ground or you can respond in such an over-the-top, out of control, nobody does that kind of way that can turn problems into gold mines. If you want to exceed expectations, choose the latter!

For the longest time, Nordstrom had a policy that granted refunds with no receipt, no time limit, no questions asked. A variation of that policy still remains today. This policy is often an example given whenever someone talks about customer service. But it’s really a signature response to a customer problem, and it’s become something that creates incredible word of mouth for them.

Creating what I call your signature response to problem-solving takes a little thought, planning, implementation, and even training, but it can become a very valuable tool for your organization. I’ve mapped out four things you can do to quickly, proactively, and creatively address customer problems with a signature response of your own. 

1. Invite and reward customer feedback

The first step to making problem-solving a core marketing system is to encourage your customers to tell you when something’s not right. This may sound like a simple thing, but there is plenty of research that suggests somewhere near 90% of your customers experiencing an issue will simply go away quietly unhappy.

You should clearly state in all your marketing copy that you welcome feedback and won’t rest until your customer is thrilled. Spell out guarantees, return policies, and make it very obvious how to get in touch with you via phone, mail, live chat, web, or email. You should also build satisfaction surveys, results reviews, and even random phone follow-ups into your standard operating procedures.

Of course, it’s not enough to just ask for feedback and then send it down a black hole; you’ve got to respond.

2. Create a response

In order to get the full impact with this idea, you need to design the manner in which you will automatically respond in order to solve a customer problem. Some of this can and should be handled through clearly spelled out, no strings attached, guarantees, and return policies, but you need to add some flair as well. Adding some creativity in this step is how you turn a response into a signature response. For example, does the CEO show-up with a bouquet of flowers, does the customer immediately receive a month of service free and a dedicated service rep to help guide them through the challenge, do you do whatever it takes to make it right?

The key here is to do something that gets the customer the result they are after but also offers a little ‘wow’ that they can’t help but notice because it was unexpected.

Occasionally, we receive notes from customers who have purchased one of our products but feel it isn’t what they thought it would and want to return it. We cheerfully refund their purchase price, but instead of asking them to return it, we ask that they make it a gift to another business owner. It’s a pretty simple thing on our part, but it really creates a warm response each time we offer it.

3. Act quickly

Speed matters in problem-solving – especially in a technology-filled world that caters to and sustains our desires of instant gratification. You need to act quickly. A fast response time makes customers feel that their concerns are important. In a study by CMO Council, the most important attribute of a good customer experience, according to the customers themselves, is a fast response time.

Zappos is well known for its incredible customer support. They have live chat, email, phone, and social support available 24/7. Customers expect their problems to be solved and fast – it’s another prime example of a signature response they designed for themselves.

4. Empower your team to fix the problem

Another really important piece of the problem-solving puzzle is blame. When you make a mistake, admit it, and move to fix it. When your customer makes a mistake, well, move to fix it. There’s no gain in getting the customer to admit they were wrong, even when they are. One of my favorite business expressions said to my staff in my best dad voice is: Fix the problem, not the blame.

The way to make sure that your signature response to problems is actually delivered as designed is to empower your staff to fix the problem, not the blame!

Let them know that while you have a set of policies designed to make their life simple and your business profitable, they can do what it takes to make the customer happy. Now, if that makes you more than a little nervous that you will be taken advantage of then perhaps you need to refine whom you are attracting as customers. There will always be people who try to take advantage of your willingness to please, but the key lies in setting the proper expectations upfront in all of your marketing messages.

Saving a deal gone bad by reacting in a way that is generally unexpected is how you create positive buzz and customers for life.

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Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business

Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Using a spreadsheet or index cards to manage your clients may make sense when you’re first starting out: there aren’t that many to keep track of, and the clients you do have don’t have a long history with your business.

However, as time goes on, your client list grows, your track record with existing clients becomes longer and more complex, and you need a better way to manage these relationships.

That’s where a client relationship management (CRM) tool comes in. CRMs are not just for big multinationals. There are tremendous benefits to the technology even for small local businesses. The tool is designed to make it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to work effectively and drive even more conversions. Read on, and I’ll take you through all the benefits of incorporating a CRM tool into your workflow.

Scale More Easily

A lot of small business owners are happy to manage their client information in a spreadsheet or word document. At the same time, business owners hope to see their companies succeed and grow. When you’re creating your own haphazard method for tracking your customers, you’re practically ensuring an information bottleneck as your business continues to expand.

CRM tools are designed to grow with your business. When you acquire new prospects, upsell existing customers, add new products and services, or begin a new outreach campaign, these tools are designed to meet you where you are and then keep pace as you broaden your horizons.

A spreadsheet doesn’t have the same flexibility; you’ll soon find yourself struggling to add new columns and tabs, and information will get lost in the shuffle. A spreadsheet also doesn’t integrate with your other marketing and sales tools or provide reports and analytics in the same way that a CRM tool can.

Enhance Customer Experience

Customers today are won and lost based on the experience they have interacting with your business. There is a lot of competition out there, and with the digital landscape being what it is, it’s likely that your customer can find another business that does what you do. So it’s a highly personalized customer experience, with strong attention to detail, that will allow you to stand out from the pack and turn your prospects into return customers.

CRM tools allow you to track all interactions with a customer across platforms. When did they last make a purchase with you, and what was it? Did they submit a review of the product or service they bought? Did they reach out via phone, email, or online chat with a question about their recent purchase? Are they on the mailing list for your newsletter?

There are so many ways in which you interact with customers, and it’s near impossible for a human to track all of these touchpoints effectively and accurately. Having this information all in one place allows all members of your team to better serve customers.

Marketers can send targeted messaging to users who have expressed an interest in a particular good or service your provide. Salespeople can be more proactive about reaching out to customers that they haven’t heard from in a while, and can make a thoughtful reference to something they discussed in their last conversation when they reach out to reestablish contact. Your customer service team can see a history of issues a user has had with a given product and can meet them where they are, rather than making the customer rehash their issue each time they contact you with a question.

Knowing what your customer has done in the past allows you to be thoughtful about your interactions in the future. Adding a personal touch to your interactions is what distinguishes your brand. You increase trust—a key part of the customer relationship—when you show that you not only know what you’re doing, but that you care about the customer and their individual needs.

Send Targeted Messages

As I mentioned briefly above, one of the major benefits to marketers using a CRM tool is the ability to undertake customer segmentation based on past behavior.

Customer segmentation is what gives your marketing efforts that personalized touch. CRM tools allow you to group prospects and clients based on a variety of different attributes: where the lead came from, how they’ve engaged with you in the past, what they’ve purchased from you, or demographics like age or location.

You can then easily send relevant messages to those who meet certain criteria in a given group. All leads that came from attending an event you hosted last month can receive an invitation to your next event, complete with an early bird registration discount. All customers who purchased a given service in the past year can be sent a free copy of your latest white paper on a related topic. All of your customers in the Northwest can be notified when you’re speaking at a conference in Seattle.

Now, sending a message about your Seattle conference appearance to your clients in Pennsylvania might lead them to unsubscribe, since you’re clogging up their inbox with irrelevant messaging. But if that same client receives a personalized note from you, following up on their recent purchase and providing them with a training video about how to better use the item that they bought they’ll likely have a very different reaction. Email segmentation allows you to not only build trust, but also make sure that the right offers are getting in front of the right people, thereby increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Manage Your Sales Pipeline

CRMs don’t just allow you to track the behaviors of existing customers, you can use them to manage your prospects, too. When you can see where all of your prospects are in the customer journey, you can better understand what changes you need to make to your approach to win over more new business.

CRM tools can allow you to see bottlenecks in your sales pipeline. Is there one particular area where conversions just don’t seem to be happening? Once you can see that issue, you can begin to address it. Maybe lots of prospects are eager to sign up for a free trial of your service, but then they’re not converting. That means you should focus on what’s happening with their free trial experience—are they underwhelmed with their experience, or are you not providing adequate follow-up after the trial in order to get them to commit to the paid version?

These tools will also allow you to parse your data based on factors like deal size, expected close date, and last point of contact so that you can direct your sales team to go after the most promising leads or those with the most pressing deadlines attached.

Finally, you can keep better track of the deals that you’ve lost. When you understand when and where you lost out on business, you can then begin to gather the information around the why. Did you drop the ball and wait too long to provide them with information? Did they find a similar product or service at a much lower price? This is the kind of information that allows you to improve your approach with future prospects and ensure your success next time around.

I’m Sold! How Do I Find the Right CRM?

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the many benefits to adding a CRM tool to your business. But now the question becomes, with the myriad of options, which one is best for you? The systems run the gamut in terms of capabilities, so the real key to finding the right one is selecting the tool that best aligns with your goals and needs.

Just because your friend uses and loves a given CRM for their business doesn’t mean it will serve you just as well. Find the CRM that allows you to collect the data that you most want to track and provides the marketing automation features that are most important to you. You’ll also want to consider your team’s level of tech-savvy and workload and select a CRM that lines up with their abilities and bandwidth.

A tool like Hubspot’s CRM is free to use and is very comprehensive. The downside here is that the tool is complex. There will be a learning curve when you implement any new tech, but some CRMs are more involved than others. No matter what program you settle on, you’ll want to be sure that you’re providing your team with the appropriate training and support to make sure that you get the most out of your new system.

A nice middle ground for small business owners is ActiveCampaign‘s CRM. The system allows for marketing automation alongside more traditional sales and CRM features. The platform is fairly intuitive and they offer a variety of pricing options based on your needs and budget.

Today’s business owners are able to collect a lot of information about their customers and prospects, and it comes from a lot of different sources. As a business continues to grow, it’s nearly impossible for a person to accurately track, manage, and analyze all of this data on their own. And when you’re not able to see it all in one place, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. Turning to a CRM tool to help you manage the information, streamline the way you interact with customers and prospects, and get specific about the way that you approach each individual can empower you to take your business to the next level.

Five Tips That Make Asking for Referrals Less Intimidating

Five Tips That Make Asking for Referrals Less Intimidating written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Asking for referrals can be tough. It can feel like you’re being pushy or imposing on someone’s time. But in reality, the majority of happy customers are more than willing to give a referral when asked.

While the first hurdle in asking for referrals is getting over your own insecurities or mental blocks associated with the process, here are five additional tips that make asking for referrals less intimidating.

1. Provide Great Service

This one might seem obvious, but the first step to feeling good about asking for a referral is providing the best service possible. Of course you’re going to feel sheepish approaching a customer who had a less-than-stellar experience with your company. But if you are honest, responsive, and helpful from start to finish, then why shouldn’t your customer be excited to pass your name along to others?

We’re all human and mistakes do happen. There will be times when a customer has a sub-par interaction with your business. That doesn’t mean that you should run away and consider that customer a lost cause. If you are proactive about reaching out, apologizing, and asking for a second chance to wow them (and then delivering on your promise the next time), you might just create an even more loyal customer. People appreciate honesty and businesses who are willing to go the extra mile, so when you make that effort—even if it’s after an initial mess-up—you should feel confident asking for a referral after you’ve proven your mettle the second time.

2. Start a Conversation

Sometimes it can feel difficult to ask for a referral because it feels like you’re selfishly asking for a favor out of the blue. One way to mitigate this feeling is to establish a meaningful conversation with someone before you ask them for a referral. Send them a congratulatory note when you see on LinkedIn that they reached a milestone in their career. Forward them an article that you think would be of interest to them. Donate to a Kickstarter related to their business’s newest product launch. There are lots of simple ways that you can show support for someone that will make asking them for a referral further down the line feel like more of a part of a conversation rather than a demand coming out of nowhere.

Of course, there is an art to doing this. You don’t want to make a grand gesture of kindness and then turn right around and ask for a referral. No one wants to feel like they’re being bribed into saying something nice about you and your business. But if you show a genuine interest in what someone is doing in their business life, they’ll feel even more open to saying something genuinely kind about you when you ask.

3. Provide Various Ways to Gather the Referral

It’s always best to ask someone for a referral directly; people are far more likely to refer when they’re asked than they are to go out of their way to do it on their own (even if they had a positive experience with your company). However, you want to be sure you’re making it easy for customers to refer you, whether you’re asking them directly or not.

Include a link to sites where customers can provide a review (whether that’s Yelp, Facebook, or a tool like in your email signature. Customers who see this reminder each time they communicate with you might be more likely to review you when they have a spare minute if they’re presented with the opportunity to do so on more than one occasion. You can also create a “refer a friend” button or page on your website. This makes it easy for you to collect referrals from customers by sending them a link to the page, while it also allows customers you haven’t reached out to directly to still submit a referral if they feel so inclined.

4. Create Partnerships

One of the best ways to generate referrals is by creating partnerships with other business owners. They’re facing the same struggles as you when it comes to generating referrals, so it’s easier to ask them for referrals. They understand how intimidating it can be to ask customers to pass your name along, and so they’ll be all the more willing to do so for you and your business (and you will be willing to do the same for them).

Work to find businesses that are providing a good or service that makes sense with the work your company does. If you own a shoe store, talk to the cobbler down the street. If you’re a DJ for weddings and events, speak with the local party equipment rental company.

Asking a fellow business owner for referrals is not only a bit less intimidating than asking a customer, it also establishes a steady flow of referrals. Business owners will continue to come across prospects who are in need of your services, whereas past customers might only meet someone every once in a while who’s looking for the good or service you provide.

5. Be Specific In Your Ask

Some people are hesitant to ask for referrals when it seems like a broad ask: “If you know anyone who needs what I do, let me know!” One way to counter this is to do a little research.

Let’s say you’re a website designer who already has a list of local businesses you’d like to target. You’ve looked at their sites and have some specific thoughts on how to strengthen each of their designs to help them grow their business.

Go onto LinkedIn and see if any of your current clients have connections at these businesses. If so, you then have a specific referral ask that you can make. Reach out to your current client and say, “I see that you know the marketing manager at Company X. I’ve been wanting to get in touch with someone over there about their website design; I’ve got some concrete ideas about how to organize their site that could help grow their sales. Would you be willing to put me in touch with your connection?”

This serves a few purposes. It shows to your current client that you’re serious about your business, know your stuff, and do your research. This makes them feel more at ease in referring you to their connection. It also makes you feel more empowered in your ask. You know exactly what you want, and you’re confident enough in the services you provide to be unafraid to ask for that referral.

Asking for referrals can be scary. But if you provide excellent service to your customers, there’s no need for you to feel shy. People are excited to spread the word about a great business, and if you’re able to drum up the courage to ask for referrals, you’ll be sure to get great new leads for your efforts.

What Are Referral Champions and How Do You Create Them?

What Are Referral Champions and How Do You Create Them? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Every business owner knows that the key to generating referrals is creating a positive customer experience. When someone has a great interaction with your brand, they’re more likely to go and recommend you to their friends or colleagues.

One recommendation can mean a lot to your business, but what if you could turn that happy customer into a referral champion: someone who refers your business again and again?

It is possible to foster relationships with clients so that they become referral champions. Read on as I take a look at the steps to nurture these relationships and keep customers referring your business for years to come.

What is a Referral Champion?

Simply put, a referral champion is a happy customer who refers your business to more and more friends. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. A referral champion is likely someone who’s had more than one interaction with your business. A customer wouldn’t necessarily recommend a dry cleaner after visiting the shop just once, but if they take their shirts there each week to be cleaned and are consistently happy with the results, they’ll be more likely to suggest the business to a neighbor.

The other alternative is that it’s someone who had a truly remarkable experience with your business. Back to the dry cleaning example: a woman has a formal event this evening. She’s gotten a black ink stain on her cream wool dress, and it needs to be cleaned by that night! Her regular dry cleaner is way across town—she doesn’t have time to get there—so she turns to you. You’re able to remove the stain and have the dress ready to go by 5pm. That’s the kind of exceptional experience that may lead her to refer you based solely on that one interaction.

This is why you often hear me talk about the importance of creating an amazing customer experience. Whether someone is going to use your business just once or come back again and again, the experience must be high each time. It can be the first step to establishing a great referral champion relationship.

How Do You Find Them?

So now we understand what a great referral champion looks like, but how do you identify your potential referral champions from amongst all your customers? This is where calculating Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) comes in. The CLV represents what a customer will be worth to you over the entire lifetime of your interactions; this takes you beyond looking at a single transaction and helps you to see the bigger picture.

We’re able to take that formula a step further to include a customer’s referral value (CRV) as well. V. Kumar, a professor at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, and his colleagues offer a comprehensive approach to calculating CRV, which allows you to identify the number of referrals you can expect to get from each customer based on their prior behavior.

The formula also takes into account whether or not those referrals would have found you on their own without their friend’s recommendation. If that customer would have done business with your company anyway (which surveys showed was the case about half of the time), then the overall value of the referral is lessened.

Make it Easy to Become a Champion

Now that you understand the nature of your relationship with each customer, you can begin to get strategic about how to create the strongest referral champions possible. Some of your customers have a high CLV—they’re doing a lot of business with your company—but they haven’t yet become strong referral champions. Most happy customers say that they’d be willing to put in a good word for a business, but not all of them follow through.

In order to create referral champions, you want to make the referral process as simple as possible. Your customers are busy people and don’t have time to search for ways to refer you. You need to put that information front and center. Call to action buttons on your website, links to your Yelp or Facebook profiles in your email signature, and simple forms that ask for as little information as possible will all reduce friction in the referral and review capturing process and will drive your happy customers to share their positive feelings toward your brand.

Take Care of Your Existing Champions

There are some customers that already have a high CLV and CRV—they’re giving you a lot of their own business and are consistently referring you to friends. For customers like this, you want to be showing your appreciation for both their return business and steady referral stream.

There are a number of things you can do to thank them. Consider hosting an exclusive event for your best customers. Present them with a coupon to use on their next purchase, or with a gift card to their favorite local shop. Send them a free copy of your latest white paper or eBook on a topic they’d be interested in. Even a personalized phone call or email can go a long way.

The important thing here is to make sure you’re keeping the customer experience highly personalized. Your best customers don’t want to feel like they’re getting generic communications—they went out of their way to refer you, so you should go out of your way to send them a meaningful thank you.

Incentivize the Process

Whether someone is already a strong referral champion or is a happy customer with the potential to become one, instituting a referral program can be a good way to ensure that your customers continue referring your business well into the future.

There are a few tricks to creating an effective referral program. Make sure that the offer you’re making is one that customers will actually find beneficial, and create incentives for both the person doing the referring and for their friend. This will make it all the more likely that once that friend becomes one of your customers, they will turn around and refer one or two of their friends.

Referral champions are invaluable to your business. Each and every referral counts, so when you’re able to create a customer that generates multiple referrals over the years, that’s like striking gold. Keeping the customer experience high, making it easy to refer their friends, and going the extra mile to provide personalized service are the hallmarks of an effective referral champion program that will keep you in business for many, many years.

How to Add Sales to Each Stage of the Customer Journey

How to Add Sales to Each Stage of the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you think of your business’s sales strategy, you may be tempted to think of it as only relating to the actual transaction where a customer pays for the good or service you offer.

However, businesses today can’t think of their relationship with their customers as a linear one. Instead, people have the opportunity to interact with your brand in a wide variety of ways: on your website, in-person, over the phone, via email, in Google search, or on social media. And they go through different phases, from just coming to know of your product to (hopefully, eventually) being a return customer who refers others to your business. The sum of all these interactions with your brand is what we call the customer journey.

Because this journey is not a straight road, your sales team can play a role in each phase of the journey. As you think about building an hourglass that addresses marketing needs for prospects and customers at each phase, you should also consider how your sales team fits into the hourglass model. Whether someone is hearing about your brand for the first time or is making their 50th purchase, your sales team has something to offer them.

We’ll take a look at the stages a customer goes through on their journey of interacting with a brand, and how sales can play a role in each phase.

Getting to Know You

When someone is just encountering a brand for the first time, you have a tremendous opportunity but also a great responsibility. They know nothing about your business, so it’s up to you to create a cohesive image that quickly, easily, and clearly communicates who you are, what you do, and why you do it better than anyone else in the game.

These early stages of brand discovery—the know and like phases of the hourglass—are often thought of as the territory of the marketing team. Creating advertising campaigns, compelling calls to action, and social media profiles fall under their purview, but sales has a role to play even this early on in the customer journey.

Outbound marketing efforts may well include your sales team. If you undertake telemarketing or cold calling, have a booth at a trade show, or have a giveaway of branded items at a community event, these are opportunities for your sales team to be the first point of contact with prospects.

While outbound marketing techniques have become less popular in recent years, if it’s done correctly, it can help you to create positive associations with your brand in the minds of prospects. The key here is in making sure that you have a sales team that’s comfortable with having a conversation that touches on the important differentiators for your brand, but at the same time doesn’t feel scripted. With the right sales team in place, it’s possible to create positive personal connections with prospects immediately, and that really allows you to stand out from your competition that’s relying solely on inbound techniques.

Coming to Trust You

A recent survey from found that, in the U.S., 79 percent of consumers said they would only do business with brands that show they understand and care about “me.”

The trust and try areas of the hourglass are where there’s the greatest crossover between your marketing and sales teams, and so they should be working in tandem to create that highly personalized approach. In order to be most effective, they need to have access to each other’s information: sales needs to share their CRM data, while marketing should provide a window into their analytics.

While some prospects will react well to personalized email campaigns and targeted paid advertising on Facebook, all managed by the marketing team, others will need a bit more hand-holding from someone in sales.

Having a call to action button on your website that makes it easy for prospects to request a demo and get in touch with a member of your sales team can help funnel those prospects that need a little extra attention to the appropriate salesperson. Additionally, creating a shared inbox for your marketing and sales teams will allow your marketing folks to easily hand off prospects that would like more, detailed information to the sales team.

The Moment of Truth: The Purchase

This is what the sales team has been waiting for. After playing a role in introducing prospects to the brand and being responsive to their questions in the trust and try phases, the prospect is finally ready to convert.

Of course, the buying phase of the customer journey where the sales team plays the most obvious role. It’s also a point that some business owners take for granted. Just because someone has become a customer does not mean they can now be forgotten.

As Joey Coleman and I discussed in a podcast episode, creating a standout customer experience is an important part of taking people from one-time customer to repeat client. The sales team needs to make sure that the first time someone buys from you, they have an optimized experience. That means automated updates on their purchase, an easy way to get in touch if there’s an issue, and a proactive approach from you.

If your sales team is able to provide a stellar experience for a customer’s first time buying from your company, they’re a lot more likely to come back again. The trick here, of course, is that the stellar experience needs to be repeated on each subsequent interaction. Your sales team can never take a customer for granted, because if they do, that customer will eventually drift away to a competitor.

Part of the trick here is to establish crystal clear processes for your sales team’s interactions with customers. Make sure you have a customer service platform in place to ensure that any issues are being addressed in a timely manner and that efforts are not being duplicated (which wastes your team’s time and frustrates and confuses your customer). Consider a platform like ZenDesk, which allows you to track customer support requests across channels.

Building a Referral Engine

The final stage of the hourglass gives your customers the opportunity to generate new leads for you. When you empower your sales team to effectively generate referrals, you can build an engine that fuels your business growth for years to come.

Encourage your sales team to be proactive about gathering referrals. If they have a positive interaction with a customer, have a formalized process in place for getting a written review from that person.

Customers will also be more likely to refer you if you remain top of mind. Your sales team should be using a customer data platform to track interactions with customers. If you haven’t spoken to one in a while, have your sales team reach out. A personalized email or phone call might not only bring them back to make another purchase themselves, it will also position you to be the business they recommend later in the week when their friend happens to ask if they know a company that does exactly what you do.

If you think of your sales team as a group that only springs into action the moment someone wants to make a purchase, you’re missing out on the enormous potential that they have to support your business throughout the customer journey. When deployed correctly, your sales team can be by your customers’ sides each step of the way, which only serves to strengthen their relationship with your brand and makes them more likely to establish long-term connections with your business.

Transcript of Using Convenience to Disrupt the Competition

Transcript of Using Convenience to Disrupt the Competition written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: How would you like to disrupt your entire industry, disrupt your competition? Well, it’s possible, and today, the way that you do it is that you are just easier to do business with, you’re more convenient.

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Shep Hyken, and we talk about the convenience revolution. Sure, we talk about Amazon and Uber and these companies you all know, but we also talk about a very specific point of view that every small business owner can take to make their business more convenient. Check it out.

Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto, and to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited-time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Shep Hyken. He is a best-selling author and the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations. He’s also the author of an upcoming book called The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty. Shep, thanks for joining me.

Shep Hyken: Hey, man. It’s great to be here, John. Thanks so much for having me.

John Jantsch: Well, I can’t believe this a first time I’ve had you on. You’re a fellow Missourian, and you’ve been doing this as long as I have, so I’m glad to finally get you on.

Shep Hyken: Well, thanks. We’ve got a lot to talk about, and I love what you do. I remember your book when it first came out. Highlight, that was the book of the year, the Duct Tape Marketing.

John Jantsch: Thank you for saying so, and thank you especially for saying so as I’m recording. Why convenience as a revolution? I mean, it seems like, hasn’t convenience always been a good idea in business?

Shep Hyken: Well, convenience has always been a good idea in business but what’s happened is, and we can go back and talk about the very beginning of convenience and when I believe it first started, which is actually in ancient times, but what’s happened is customers are expecting more than ever before, and they don’t compare your business any more to the competitor. They compare you to the best customer service experience they’ve ever received from anyone. That could be some company as big as Amazon or it could be the guy that just sold you a $25 pair of running shoes that were on sale at the department store, and he was just so knowledgeable and friendly and helpful, and you’re dealing with somebody, you go, “Why can’t these people be as nice as so-and-so?” or, “Why can’t they operate as efficient as whatever that company is?”

Today, customers are smarter, and they demand that service, and guess what? Companies are starting to get smarter, and they’re starting to deliver a better level of service. Usually, that service is translated into soft skills, customer service training, which, by the way, still it’s imperative that every company do this, and they keep doing it for all the obvious reasons because you can’t slow down in the area, but the people have to be good, they have to be knowledgeable, they have to be helpful, they have to be engaging. If everybody does that, what else can you do? Figure out a way to be easier to do business with, and that’s where the word convenience comes into play.

I’m going to ask you a question if that’s okay. What … By the way, you can answer right or wrong, I’ll tell you you’re right no matter what because you’re the host of the show, but what would you say the most convenient and easy-to-do business company on the planet is today?

John Jantsch: I would say is not Budget Rent a Car. Sorry, my own personal bias there, but I think probably most people would say Amazon.

Shep Hyken: Exactly. That is the correct answer. Thanks for playing the game. I identified six different areas of convenience, different obvious areas that companies have excelled in, and Amazon excels in all six of these areas. By the way, there’s a number of companies that do, but boy, what I love about Amazon is from the very, very beginning, their goal is to be so customer-focused, and they disrupted that book industry pretty well with saying, “Hey, we’re going to offer you a broader selection, even at a lower place,” because a lot of times, convenience comes with a higher price so people are willing to pay for it. Amazon offered it at a lower price, and that is “buy your books here, and by the way, bigger selection, and we’ll deliver the books.” You don’t even need to leave your home. You can do it from sitting in your office or sitting in front of your computer. That’s what they’ve done.

By the way, today, while they still have good prices, they’re not always the lowest prices, and they even put right there on their website, “You can find us at a lower price with one of our other,” what they call third-party for buyers or merchandisers, and these are just companies that use the Amazon system, and guess what, people still want to buy from Amazon just because of all that they offer, but Amazon offers convenience, they offer high technology from the standpoint of they use technology that drive a better experience, they deliver, they’re accessible 24/7, they’ve got great customer support. A lot of it’s self-service, but when you need their help, they call you. It’s amazing. I can go on and on about Amazon, but you’ve guessed it. They are the most convenient company on the planet.

John Jantsch: Well, and I take a lot of companies that have embraced this idea have looked at, in some cases, outdated business models. I mean, like the taxi sort of was an outdated business model, and Uber I think completely disrupt that by making it more about the user than about the taxi. CarMax is another great one I like to cite because buying and selling a car through CarMax completely changed I think the automobile industry, and I think that that’s what’s interesting is, and you even have it in the title, don’t you? Yeah, disrupt the competition, and I think that people that are actively strategically trying to figure out how can we reduce friction, how can we use technology not as a barrier but as an enabler. They are disrupting industries, aren’t they?

Shep Hyken: Right, and it’s not just technology, but let’s talk about Uber for a moment. I put Uber as … What I did is first I talk about Amazon to explain what all six areas were, and I use them as the example, but then let’s talk about Uber. Reducing friction is the first area. Now, everything about convenience is reducing friction; however, some companies like Amazon and Uber have taken reducing friction to whole nother level. What Uber did is they looked at how people would … If you don’t live in a busy urban area where there’s taxi cabs everywhere, you’ve gotta call a cab. You pick up the phone, you call a cab, he’ll be there in 15 minutes. Twenty minutes later, the cab’s not there. You gotta pick up the call, “Where is the cab?” “Oh, they’re just a mile away. They’ll be right there.”

Well, with Uber, you know how it works. You open up the app, you can see where all the drivers are. You put in the address where you’re going. It tells you how long it will be before they get there. You can watch them driving down the streets by looking at the screen on your phone, and then they get there, they know where you’re going, they even know who you are, and when you get out the car, you don’t even need to pay for it at that moment. You don’t really reach in your pocket, pull out a credit card or dollar bills. No. They just automatically charge you because you’re in the system. What they did is used technology, but really, they looked at the whole concept of reducing friction.

Another technology company, I use PayPal as a lead example for the technology segment. They figured out how to get money transferred from here to there real fast and real easy. Once you’re in the system and you understand how to do it, I can send money to you, John, in under 45 seconds if I have your email address. That’s all I need, and it’s done. That’s using technology to make an easy and convenient service experience.

John Jantsch: A lot of my listeners are small business owners, and sometimes, even though the application’s the same, we start talking about Uber and Amazon, and they’re like, “Well, that’s not me,” but when you talk about reducing friction, I mean, your form’s easier to fill out on your website, being able to schedule an appointment, those are ways that I think even the smallest of companies can actually start looking at this idea, can’t they?

Shep Hyken: Exactly, and as an individual, you can say, “Hey, I’ll call you. You don’t have to call me. I’ll come to you if it’s a local business. You come to me.” One of the lead, well, actually, it’s a lead case study in the concept of delivery. Amazon delivers. Well, so does my local car dealer. I wouldn’t call them a small sole entrepreneur business. They probably have 40 or 50 employees, but they’ve got a half a dozen sales people, 10 sales people, they’ve got their mechanics, but here’s what happened. After 24 years of dealing with a particular dealership who I was not unhappy with … They were about a mile or so from my office. I’d drop my car off. Sometimes they had a loaner for me. If they didn’t, they might give me a ride, or I could just walk to work.

One day, I saw a car in the window. I said, “That’s a beautiful car.” Not my regular dealership. This was about 10, 12 miles away. I walked in. I looked at it. I test-drove the car, and I said, “Can’t buy it from you. You guys are too far away.” He said, “Do you see a waiting room anywhere in this dealership?” I said, “No.” He says, “Well, we have one. It’s small. It’s behind that wall, but most people don’t use it because if you buy a car from us, we’ll deliver it to you. Every time you need service, we will take you a new car, pick yours up, and bring your car back when it’s done. The next time you step foot in this dealership will be to buy another car.” I thought, “Well, what’s the catch? How much does it cost?” “Nope. No extra charge. Well, here’s the offer for the new car. Go shop it around. If you can get a better deal, let us know.”

I went back to my original dealership, and they wouldn’t offer the same services. Guess what? They made it more convenient for me at this new dealership, Kirkwood Audi, and I switched. It’s been about seven or eight years. I’m getting ready to buy my third car from them.

John Jantsch: If somebody’s listening, and they think, “Okay, yeah, this sounds good, but I’m pretty close to my business, and I think I’m doing a good job with it,” I mean, do you ever advise people on where they might look for clues to find ways that, maybe they don’t want to disrupt, they just want to make a better service, more loyal customers. What are places to start unearthing some of these innovations?

Shep Hyken: Sure. Think of what … By the way, that car dealership wasn’t out to disrupt the industry. They were just out to be better than their competition so they would win business and create loyalty. What I would do is I would take a look at your direct competitors. I’d look at everything I could. I’d get as much intel. What is it that the customers like about doing business with them? Am I doing that? By the way, if I’m not doing that, I don’t want to copy what they’re doing. I want to figure out what they’re doing and then add my spin, make it a little bit better. I would use what they’re doing as a benchmark, not as a goal, if that makes sense. I’d take a look at that competition to say, “What do they do different than me?” Then I’d ask myself, “Why do my customers buy from me instead of someone else? If there’s a gap, I better make sure I cover that and close that gap.”

Another question I’d ask my customers is, is there one thing you can think of that would make doing business with me better, because if I know what the one thing, and they’re already happy with me, but if I know there’s one thing I can do better and several customers say that same one thing, I’ve got an opportunity to improve on greatness.

John Jantsch: I think it’s tough, though, sometimes because I’m sure that somebody standing on a corner of New York City waiting for a taxi didn’t think, “I sure wish I had an app that showed me where this car was coming … ” I think it’s, a lot of times, it’s very hard for our customers to tell us how to do better because maybe everybody, that’s how everybody does it. I think sometimes you have to look outside your industry and things like to look for ways that other people are disrupting.

Shep Hyken: That’s why in the book, under each of the six different areas of convenience, I’ve given you at least five different case study story-type scenarios so you can choose from small businesses, and even I have a whole chapter there on how an individual can be more convenient, which we already talked about, but by looking at all these stories you’ll understand.

I talk about subscriptions, which is a great convenience, and we think of a subscription as a paper gets dropped off or a magazine gets mailed to us, but how about the hardware store that says, “Hey, every six month you change the filters in your air conditioner, why don’t I do this, give me your credit card, and every six months, I’ll mail you the filters. You don’t have to come in, and it’ll be a reminder when they show up that it’s time to change the filters.”

I mean, that’s convenience, it’s reminders, and it’s steady ongoing business. The subscription model, by the way, is a huge opportunity for small businesses. It’s great ongoing reoccurring income, and big businesses. Look what the guy did with the razor blades, The Dollar Shave Club, which I’m a member of. I love that club. That’s one of the cool clubs I’m a member of. Every month, I gave my shaving, my blades and my shaving cream and everything else.

The lead case study I use for that is Netflix because that’s a cool subscription service, and they disrupted the industry. They disrupted their direct competitor, but again, small businesses, big businesses, a bunch of different ideas, and then you can start to think the way they think and incorporate that into what you do.

John Jantsch: You can do services, I don’t know, a tree service. I know I’m going to need my trees trimmed every fall or something like that, set it up as a recurring service. I don’t even have to think about it. I think there’s so many people that want that convenience.

Shep Hyken: Yeah, it’s getting them to agree to a steady, ongoing, that’s a subscription. Hey, you subscriber, the tree service. I’m getting ready to do a speech this weekend coming up for a company called Pet Butler. You know what they do? They scoop poop. That’s the truth. They go into people’s lawns, and they look for it, and they clean it up. I thought, “Wow, this is a great business.” It’s ongoing. It’s every week. They stop by, and they do it, and in a sense, that is a subscription type of a service experience. People are paying by the month or they pay by the year for an annual contract, and now it’s my job as a provider to give them what they want, which is a weekly or monthly or even daily in some cases services that different companies might offer.

John Jantsch: I will tell you, a lot of older generation would think, “Get out there and pick up that poop yourself, you lazy bum,” but the millennials expect this convenience. I look at my kids, and I mean, if your website doesn’t work right, if your app doesn’t allow them to schedule the way they want to, forget it. They’re out of there. I mean, they demand it.

Shep Hyken: True story. When we first announced the book was coming out, we still have a prepublication promotion, one of my friends called and said, “Hey, you know what? You’re not really very convenient.” I go, “What are you talking about?” He says, “I went on. I tried to pay with PayPal, and it didn’t auto populate the name and address and all that.” I go, “I didn’t know that I could do that with that. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.” Then he says, “So I went and bought it in Amazon for the pre-pub,” and I go, “Okay, well … ” He didn’t get the bonus I, everybody gets an ebook, the actual ebook of the book when they buy it in advance, but I sent it to him anyway because that’s just the kind of customer service guy I am.

But more important, I looked into that, and unfortunately, and I’m really bummed because my shopping cart system doesn’t allow that to work that way. I’m still researching to see if there’s a plugin that I could use with it, but that was an example. The guy said, “Hey, if you’re going to be convenient, practice what you preach.” You know what, sometimes, we can just do what we can do, but we do our very best, and hopefully most of our customers recognize that.

John Jantsch: But I think you made a good point that really at the very beginning, if somebody is used to that, and it does auto-populate, and it does remember them and all that kind of thing, that just raises the bar, doesn’t it? I mean, because now we want that everywhere.

Shep Hyken: Right, and that’s the point I said, that customers no longer compare you to the direct competition, but they compare you to the great service they had from anywhere else.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if, in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business, and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits. That stuff’s hard, especially when you’re a small business.

Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies, and I always felt like a little tiny fish, but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto, and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited-time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Shep, tell people, you’ve been mentioning, dancing around this promotion for the book. Flat out tell us where they can get this promotion and how they can get that free ebook. Depending upon when they’re listening to this show, perhaps in advance of the actual book.

Shep Hyken: Sure. If you’re listening to this in advance of October 2nd when the book comes out, just go to, and you can order the book there. When you do, you will get an instant, an email back, which has a link to the ebook, which is the same ebook that Amazon is going to be selling for 19.95. At least that’s what the price is right now. You get that today, and you get it for free. So you, in effect, even though you bought the book and it won’t come out until October, you’re able to read it today. Even if you buy it through Amazon, let me know, and I’ll be happy to send you the ebook.

John Jantsch: Tell us where they can find out more about you as well, so.

Shep Hyken: Sure, I mean, you can go to Be Convenient because that’s actually on my website, or just go to, H-Y-K-E-N.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, Shep, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully we’ll see you out there on I-70 or something, somewhere on the road in-

Shep Hyken: I look forward to it. You’re in Kansas City. I’m in St. Louis. We might have to do a home and home baseball game.

John Jantsch: Yeah. It’s been a rough year. Cardinals haven’t exactly lit it up either, have they?

Shep Hyken: I know. I think we’re in the same place.

John Jantsch: We’ll be back. There’s always hope.

Shep Hyken: Okay. Hey, it’s history. We just have to look forward at this point.

John Jantsch: That’s right. Shep, thanks so much.

Shep Hyken: Thanks for having me on the show.


Using Convenience to Disrupt the Competition

Using Convenience to Disrupt the Competition written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Shep Hyken
Podcast Transcript

Shep Hyken

This week on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Shep Hyken. He is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations and the author of the upcoming book The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty.

Hyken’s previous books have been New York Times and Washington Post bestsellers. He is also a prolific speaker, having been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.

Hyken works with companies to revolutionize their approach to customer service and to help them build loyalty and longstanding relationships with their clients. In this episode, Hyken details the ways in which becoming the company that is most convenient to do business with can help you stand out from the competition and create lifelong customers.

Questions I ask Shep Hyken:

  • Why convenience as a revolution? Hasn’t convenience always been a good idea?
  • How can a small business owner apply the friction reduction principles used by a giant company, like Amazon, to strengthen their company?
  • Where can small business owners begin to look for places to unearth the potential for innovation?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why you’re now expected to compete with the best customer service a client’s ever received from anyone, rather than just your direct competitors
  • How to use what your competitors are doing as a benchmark, not a goal
  • Why looking outside your industry can help you find inspiration for innovation

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Shep Hyken:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Gusto Logo_full berry_small

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto! Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for modern small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited-time deal. Sign up today, and you’ll get 3 months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Why You Must Increase Your Negative Reviews

Why You Must Increase Your Negative Reviews written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Jay BaerJay Baer

Marketing Podcast with Jay Baer

Jay BaerJay BaerOkay, I’ll admit, the headline for this post probably seems a little odd, so let me explain.

No one likes or wants negative reviews, but the fact is, that’s how you get better.

In a perfect world, everything your business does makes the customer smile, but I don’t know too many businesses that live in that world.

In reality, it is quite likely, there are many things your business does that are confusing, irritating and surprising – the problem is that it’s also quite likely that you have no idea what those things are.

By encouraging and rewarding people to give your feedback at every turn, you can learn and hopefully fix things that do not serve – without this mindset you’ll go blindly out there wondering why you can’t keep your best customers happy and loyal.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert, and author of Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. We discuss customer service, the nature of complaints in today’s market and the basics of improving your customer retention.

Baer explains why so many businesses despite negative feedback and why you can’t afford to do so. In Hug Your Haters he relates a story of a marketing officer who claimed that her number one current objective was to triple negative reviews. Now, while that may seem like a terrible thing to do on the surface, the point is she was simply going to encourage and involve her customers in the process of helping them get better – and that’s the lesson this book teaches so eloquently.

Customer service is the new marketing!

Questions I ask Jay Baer:

  • How can you view Customer Service as a competitive differentiator?
  • Why is exceptional customer service so rare?
  • What’s the first thing you should do to improve your customer service?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How you can turn a complaint into a raving fan
  • The root of most of your customers’ complaints
  • How negative feedback affects your mindset as a business owner

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jay Baer:

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