Your customer-focus could be the biggest key to getting and retaining customers. How well you focus on the user, your customer is the most important aspect of business success today.
Beware being business-centric
I remember the weekend I decided to do something about chronic pain. I’d had hip pain for months, stabbing with every step I took. I tried everything. That weekend I decided to try oral CBD.
I’d been getting emails for a while from a major company. What I read said they had a trustworthy reputation. That week, I’d gotten an email about a sale they were having.
After going to the website and locating the product I wanted to try, I tried to enter the discount code from the email. It didn’t work. It was late afternoon on Friday. I tried to reach out to them, but with a two-hour time difference, no help was available. Maybe in the morning.
Saturday morning, I tried again. The code still didn’t work. I tried to reach them…no one covered questions on the weekend.
Pain and frustration soared. I finally, placed an order and in the notes section, explained that the code didn’t work.
About a week later, I received my product – full price, no discount.
The next month, I needed some CBD chewies for my anxious dog. A discount code came in an email so I tried again. They were a highly respected company after all.
You guessed it…the code didn’t work.
Poor communications sour customer-focus
I’ve never ordered from them since. They had damaged my trust. If you can’t supply customer support, send out coupon codes that don’t work, and never respond to messages…I don’t care how big you are.
That huge company is business-centric. They do what is convenient for them and it better be good enough for the customer. If they aren’t careful, they will run out of people willing to deal with them online.
Having run my own e-commerce firm for 25 years, I certainly realize every business has limitations. However, there needs to be workarounds in place for customer support and to make the customer feel cared for.
The world has changed dramatically in the last three months. Many of us are staying at home and shopping online. We depend on the websites we interact with to anticipate and take care of our needs.
A business-centric model generally fails at that. More and more people are shopping online, It works and is growing rapidly. Online has proven to be a way for businesses to survive and thrive in the middle of a crisis.
Retention is better than replacement
Online advertising can be expensive. It’s all about the bottom line. Cost of acquisition, sales made, and lifetime customer value.
It is eight times more expensive to replace a customer than to keep one. That in itself is an excellent reason to get more customer-focused now.
If customers have a great experience with you/your website, they will tell their friends. If they have a bad experience, they will tell twice as many.
That makes a customer-focused business model that much more valuable.
3 Keys for improving your customer-focus
There are lots of ways to make your website more user friendly, but these three simple steps will help you move forward. They are all based on getting inside the client’s head.
Think of what they might ask you? What might they want to know if they came to your booth at a Farmers Market, or visited you at a fair or other sales event?
I use the Farmers Market analogy because it strikes at the core. Sales are a person to person exchange.
What do you want from that organic fresh produce grower? What do they grow, how do they grow it, what makes it different from the next booth?
The same is true for online shopping. We need to remember and treat it as a one-to-one interaction.
Key 1 – Your website should focus on talking directly to your customer in a conversational tone
Going back to our Farmers Market…you walk along the sidewalk, (following social distancing) and trying to observe what is available at each stall.
Does their signage make their product clear? Does it look good? What does it tell you about those products? And today…what efforts are being made in the arena of infection control?
If it looks interesting you make your way to the display table. How are you greeted? Do they ask if you are familiar with their offerings? Do they share their unique selling position, (USP) in a clear and conversational manner?
The beauty of your website is the potential to share more in-depth information than may be possible at a booth where others are waiting for their turn to buy. Layout and ease of use.
Is the website fresh and current in appearance?
Does it look like their kid put it together on his aging tablet with out of focus images?
Are there answers to questions the customer hasn’t thought of yet?
How do customers get help?
I know you can’t be open 24/7. Help your customers by clearly addressing how they can get questions answered.
How can they reach you?
What is your response time?
What if there is a special and your code doesn’t work or they have problem placing an order?
Company size is not an indicator of customer-focus.
A small business-centric firm sent an e-sales letter that was intriguing and I place an order for their special. They followed up with 5 emails then went quiet.
No further contact. Three weeks later, I checked and the product had never been shipped. Click-bank issued me a full refund.
A customer-centric small local winery ran a special on their to-die-for Rosé. The discounted price worked but heavily discounted shipping didn’t kick in. They helped me solve the problem in a quick 2-minute call.
Mindset and focus, not size. Find ways to improve customer service.
Move on past Covid19…
It’s time to give up the coronavirus excuses. Shipping is pretty much back to normal…although buyers tend to be more accustomed to delays.
Sure, some items may be out of stock and take longer than we’d like to become available.
That is the new normal.
Most businesses have found ways to get things done and work remotely.
If your phone system doesn’t allow call-forwarding, maybe it’s time to go VOIP. It’s inexpensive and totally customizable. Use the control settings and people can’t call you during designated “closed” hours…instead they are directed to your message system. Simple.
I know several firms where they published a list…need to reach us, we’re working remotely. Customers could contact alternative numbers/emails to get the support they needed.
Move past negative coronavirus messages. Share the positive changes you implement to make your company, product, safety, and customer care even better.
Focus on being helpful. It’s time for positives and inspiration. It’s time for connections and networking.
You and your business are the messages you send out via your website, social media, and email communications. Make them count with customer-focus.
Psychologists have understood for years that appearance and positive interactions can create a halo effect across a person and those standing close by.
It works equally across a business. Get one area top-notch and the halo spreads across your brand. Look at Apple’s halo as an example.
You’ve probably heard the story about equivalent job applicants?
Two people with very similar abilities, but quite different in appearance and presentation.
The one with the more classically appealing appearance and presentation will get the job every time.
I recall one particular story where an applicant when into a business to apply for a job…obviously before the mandated online application systems. He had a scraggly beard and wore unkempt clothing.
Then he went home and shaved/groomed his facial hair and put on a business suit. He reapplied.
When they offered him the job, he clarified who he was and that he had done this in the interest of research.
How embarrassing for the business.
But we have had these responses ingrained in us for millennia. A beast at the entrance to the cave was much more a threat than say an attractive female alone.
In my 30 years in business, I’ve interviewed thousands of clients, students, and applicants. There are some truths that almost always hold true…and I see the same thing happening with businesses and products.
In fact, there are numerous articles about businesses chasing the halo effect to increase their chance to gain new clients. It’s the old “if you stand close, it rubs off on you” theory.
It’s important to keep in mind…
Once that halo is applied, it needs to be backed up with continued support. It only takes one bad product to destroy loyalty and that positive view of you When that happens, they call it the “horn effect,”…speak of the devil.
Here are 3 techniques to earn that halo…
That halo is generated from the first brief 2-5 seconds of a customer’s encounter with your brand. That might be the physical product, you in person, or your website. You only get one chance to create that first impression. These tips can help you make it your best.
Halo 1 is earned with your website.
The coronavirus has made online the preferred method of connecting with and purchasing from a brand. They will decide based on…
Your website appearance
Ease of navigation
Great product information
Detail resource documents
Ease of finding and using the contact information
Speaking as a customer…there is nothing worse than an inability to get questions answered.
A second Halo is your voice or tone
Its the way you share. Confident…not cocky or grandiose. Sincere, honest, and clear.
For your products, it’s how they match your mission statement physically, price, and in the presentation.
Every type of communication needs to reflect this…
Passionate about what you’re doing…there is nothing that engages us quicker than a passionate person that is close to our beliefs.
A third halo tidbit is getting client-focused…
Some businesses are built on this. Some are evolving into it. And others are fighting it tooth and nail. With all the competition out there, this last group will be getting the horns…not the halo.
To earn and keep this halo, you need to demonstrate it across every connection and interaction you have with clients and prospects.
You don’t have to be perfect in every little thing, but get the customer focus right, and provide quality products and they will let your halo from that shine across your brand.
Look at the tone of your communications, responsiveness, and ease of access.
Right now everyone is running a little bit slower. Put it out there. Whatever you are able to do at the moment, communicate it clearly to establish client expectations.
A few months ago small businesses were struggling to compete against Amazon’s next day delivery. No more. Even they can’t accomplish it. Just tell your customers what you are experiencing and what you can do.
Share this across all your brand communications: website, emails, and social media.
Keep customers updated if a product is coming back into availability that has been back-ordered. Let them know if there will be restrictions and limitations.
It’s really all about being the kind of communicator you want your suppliers to be. Share it forward with your customers and prospects. Want to know if you earn a halo or horns? Contact me by Friday, May 8 at 5PM PDT to have a shot at winning a “halo or horns” look at your website. email@example.com. Please include your name, email, and website URL.
Most of us use it way too often so that it’s lost its meaning and doesn’t really say what we were trying to express. Let me tell you a story.
I have a dear friend that lived in paradise, California. You might remember. Paradise was the town that got wiped out by the worst, most horrific wildfire in California history. She and her mom were trying to collect their pets and rescue them so that they wouldn’t die in the fire. In the process, time slipped away. They didn’t get out as quickly as they should have. By the time they headed toward town, the smoke was dark. Black, acrid and billowing. They could see the fire moving toward them. It had to be terrifying. They encountered roads engulfed in flames. People were fleeing on foot through the flames trying to escape. It was a little bit beyond that for them, so they turned around dashed back into town and into the strongest building they could find. It was stone with steel doors and all they could do was pray It would hold out during the fire. They and about 25 others huddled in their refuge. With the fire roaring, the power went out and then communications went out, cell phones died. Towers were down and it was black, but the fire screamed outside. I went to look on Facebook trying to see if I can find some news about my friend. There wasn’t anything there, but there were posts from other people who like I were concerned about her. Some of them had really heartfelt feelings and many others said, I’m sorry, they didn’t know what else to say. Words can undermine our intent in what we’re trying to express and it doesn’t just happen in personal emotional situations. It can happen in our work context or even what we write. So for example, if you were in a meeting and someone arrives late. What happens? Everybody scoots over and who apologizes. The people that are scooting over do. They weren’t late for the meeting. Better to not say anything. Just shift and let that person bear the responsibility. Why me? Why do you want to hear this from me? I’ve worked in the SPA and wellness and service industry for over 25 years. I’ve been a teacher, a writer, and a mentor. I want to help you get off autopilot and whether it’s in words or copy, make your meaning, reflect what’s coming from your heart. If you want to commiserate with someone… Maybe you have a client that comes in late because they were fighting traffic. Don’t apologize. Maybe something more like, I know that frustration. I’ve out there driving around too. It’s really nasty. Leave it at that. Maybe you’re looking for a filler. Something with a project is going wrong. Somebody’s not giving you the feedback you expected. Maybe they’re wandering off track. Stop, pause and say something more like, hmm, maybe we should get some more input on that. Let’s schedule a meeting. If you’re trying to add input in a meeting, don’t apologize instead… Those are great ideas. I have one I’d like to add or what do you think of this? I’d like to get your input. Maybe you’re just trying to keep the peace. When you can see that there’s no common ground, don’t apologize for it. Maybe pause, reflect, get a smile on your face to lighten the atmosphere and say something like, maybe we should just agree to disagree on this and let’s change the topic. Then make your exits. If you made a mistake, it’s the professional grownup thing to do to admit it, but it doesn’t mean you have to say, I’m sorry. All you have to do is own up. Oops, my mistake. Let me take care of that or I’ll fix it. If you are writing something, you want to make sure your words really connect with your reader, sharing the message that’s from your heart. When I saw the posts on Paradise, California, I saw images like this…[holds up a picture of Paradise fire,] I’m sorry, doesn’t begin to cover fire racing down to engulf, your homes. It doesn’t cover this [another image]. The devastation of over 17,000 buildings leaving people dead and homeless in Paradise, which wasn’t much of a paradise anymore. I went to my Facebook friend page and I posted with tears in my eyes. I can’t even wrap my head around this. I cannot imagine what you went through and what you’re going through now. Yes, she and her mother survived. They had absolutely nothing. I’ll tell you what happened to the next, next week. In the meantime, think about your message. Let it come from your heart. And… Let there be no mistake of your meeting. Bye.
Wellness travel is experiencing steady growth. It’s growing at a faster rate than travel as a whole. Wellness travelers are a boon to the spa and hospitality industry. They travel more frequently and spend more than the average traveler spends… by as much as 130%. They don’t hesitate to pay a little extra to get what they want.
Create experience packages that focus on different wellness goals. Offering these on your website will increase bookings and get you on the wellness traveler’s radar.
According to Health and Fitness travel, here are some of the most popular current
Fitness support for wellness travelers
Stop smoking retreat. It’s never easy to stop smoking. Even worse, when you are under stress at work or home. Opting to escape for some time at a health-conscious retreat can be just the ticket. Physical activity, relaxation and trained support can make kicking the habit much easier.
2. Healthy mind and body retreats. Retreats are growing in popularity. They can include coaching in mindfulness, meditation, yoga and healthy lifestyle. When you reduce stress, burn out turns into revitalization.
Detox with healthy eating. Healthy food choices enhanced with food sourcing and cooking tips. Guests depart with a physical cleanse and ideas to enhance their long-term lifestyle.
Adrenaline junkies love to be active. Combined with Zen relaxation it offers more. The combination encourages living in the moment and reduces worries and stress.
Family Wellness. A family trip where electronics get switched off can lead to bonding. Offer outdoor activities and adventures they can share together. Bicycling, water sports, and tennis all burn energy and get kids away from smartphones.
Spas are also opening their doors to include families. Some are offering special treatments targeting younger guests.
Workplace Wellness. These wellness weekends allow the team to relax, have fun and enjoy the company. No work stress, just great physical activity and comradery. Hiking, bicycle riding, yoga, water sports… anything popular in your area.
Eco-Friendly Wellness Retreats. These retreats allow wellness-minded travelers to relax and destress without guilt. The focus is an eco-friendly facility and treatments.
Any size property can incorporate wellness.
Whether your property is large or small you can find ways to incorporate wellness opportunities. It’s about recognizing the benefits you already have available. For what you don’t have, find local affiliates. Look for what is special or unique in your community that might appeal.
If you are in more of a business travel destination, tap into that. Business travelers are recognizing the need to maintain their healthy lifestyle. It’s no longer enough to stay well and fit at home.
Today’s business traveler wants healthy options while they are on the road too. Fitness facilities, in-room fitness, meditation and healthy food choices are all assets today’s road warrior wants.
Hotel chains are developing wellness options for existing properties. But they are also adding dedicated divisions to focus on this travel group. Generation Xers and millennials are taking control of their own health. This will continue to fuel the need for wellness in hospitality and travel.
An investment in wellness options is an investment in the future of spa and travel.
Is traveling internationally on your bucket list? Don’t let the dream slip away. International travel is life changing. It’s an adventure. Faraway places, new cultures, different accents, not to mention the food. There is no way around it you will come home different. Broadened horizons, great memories.
The first wagon train crossed west in 1841. That’s 175 years ago. No original wood structures are still standing. In Europe 175 years of age is nothing for a building. You can stay in a castle built in the 11th century, or an inn built in the 1700s. Look and you will find evidence of people living there for over 2000 years.
Stonehenge is the most famous of the standing stones. Other standing stones are much older. Some date back to the Neolithic age and you can walk freely among them with no fences or restriction. Hidden gems you can seek out.
Right now, it’s a great time to visit Britain. The rate of exchange from dollars to pounds is the best ever. British pounds have always been worth more against any other currency. Right now instead of being nearly $2.00 to 1£ it has been hovering around the $1.33 range. That means your dollar goes a lot farther.
Two other benefits? They speak English. And more Americans have British ancestry than any other group. You can trace your roots; walk the soil of your ancestors. Or, just enjoy the people and places.
A little planning will help your trip be a success and memory maker. Do you want to stay in the big cities? It’s easy to take the train to get between them. In 4-1/2 hours, you can get from London to Edinburgh. Or maybe you want to focus just on one city. Public transit can get you around like a local.
Maybe you want to get out into the countryside. Meet the locals. Experience the charm of the villages. Just like in the US, get out of the big cities and you will find the people more friendly and relaxed. Visit castles, standing stones, manor houses, quaint inns. Stop into a pub for a cup of coffee, tea or brew. They are happy to share their stories, their history.
You could take tour buses, many people do. You and a group of 40 are loaded up and shuttled off to see the sites. Going with a crowd not your idea of fun, you could rent a car. Renting a car in the UK is a bit of an adventure. You will be driving on the opposite side of the road. It’s easiest done with a driver and a navigator. The driver can focus on the road and the navigator can guide the turns.
Country maps are handy but often they don’t give you road detail. A good sat-nav is helpful. Rent a car with a sat-nav, or take a device like a Garmin with you. Smart phones have navigation ability but it is going to be using your data feed. Prices for data in foreign countries can be steep. Investigate before you go. You may only want to use your device where there is free Wi-Fi.
Do you want to get the flavor of the country? Maybe this is a family heritage trip. Maybe you want to try hiking. Traveling Hadrian’s wall, in the beautiful Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales are popular with the locals and visitors alike. Do it for a day, or take one of the routes that include overnights along the way.
Horse lovers can do day rides between bed and breakfasts and see the country in a unique way. Identify your goals and you are a giant step closer to getting the experience you want.
Plot out where you want to visit and pick destinations. For the best prices, check Trip Advisor or other online booking agency. Other traveler’s reviews can help you select the place that meets your needs and budget. Once you have your list, contact the property directly. Ask about their specials. Hotels and inns have to pay those booking companies a commission, up to 15% of the room cost. Typically, if you call direct, you will save.
Save money while making international reservations with a Skype account, it’s free for computer-to-computer calls. To call landlines, add a few dollars to your account with your credit card. Instantly, you can call internationally for pennies.
Peak season in the UK is August. Loads of locals take their vacations then. If you can avoid it, you will save money and find your destinations less crowded. You won’t typically find that much difference in weather from spring to summer. Many people claim that like Oregon, autumn can be the best. If you are interested in winter sports like skiing, winter is the season for you.
England, Scotland and Wales are bigger than they seem. Yes, you can take the total square miles and put it inside the state of Oregon. But the island is longer and narrower. The route from the traditional extreme end points of Land’s End to John o’ Groats is 814-838 miles depending on which roads you take. Driving time without traffic just under 16 hours. There will be traffic, count on it. Also, lots of interesting places in between. Don’t miss them.
Selecting one or several areas to focus on. Stay several days. Explore from your base camp. It’s more relaxing than living out of a suitcase. Castles, manor houses, Inns and Bed and Breakfasts all across the UK offer accommodations. Chain hotels with names you will recognize are also available. They may not look like the ones back home. Camping, yurts, glamping and recreational vehicles called Caravans are popular with the locals. Pick your experience.
If driving, allow for the roads. Going a distance of 135 miles in a day sounds easy. It is on a freeway. But if is on two lane roads they will curve more as the cross the undulating lands. A two-hour freeway trip can easily take four on secondary roads. Take time for photo opportunities. They will be around every bend.