Seventhman Blog

  1. How Can You Create Value Through Innovation?

    "creating value"Welcome to the Age of the Customer.  This year, businesses will be called to explain that unique value they create.  It’s not enough to say you have a good product or service. You need to get rid of that box and think of all those missed opportunities that you had when your customers choose your competitor over you.  This time, you have to get into the nook and cranny of your business strategy so you can create that unique value, no-frills.  When demanding customers want more, you have to think of new ways of creating value on the digital plane.  Are you ready to engage your customers with authentic experiences and innovation across online and physical touch points?

    Revamping Your Business Model

    I would lie if I tell you that innovating your products and processes is easy.  In fact, it is expensive and time-consuming in most parts. Coupled with a certain level of uncertainty on growing your profit and adopting change, I can’t blame companies why they would put a lid to innovation before it even begins.  If you take the time to look at your Point of Difference, or what makes your product/service quality different from the rest – you would have found your master key that will unlock the elusive door of success in your marketing and sales strategies.  It’s not enough to simply make a list of the benefits your business has to offer, but you should find new areas where your competition does not act.

    Are You Ready to Compete on User Experience?

    I’d like to throw this question your way.  It’s not new to you that more companies out there are using digital marketing to reach their customers and build relationships with them.  Problem is that it’s getting tougher to get your message out there in the tidal wave of information. Digitally-savvy customers are harder to engage this time, even with all the deals and freebies that you can find to lure them to your site. You’ve got to be credible, authentic and transparent to gain their trust. You have to find more ways of making them feel part of your brand; not just mere observers.  You have to put yourself in their shoes and think of what they value the most.

    Change is Good

    When the bar is set higher, how you do business is more important than what you do.  Your customers carry an invisible score card each time they interact with your brand. For this reason, I have created Simple Pay Finance to address the pain points of many in the dental profession who is suffering the ‘Empty Dental Chair Syndrome’.  To sum it up, I’m bridging the gap between dentists and their patients through hassle-free financing.  We get more patients in the door and give patients the friendly support they need.  Everybody’s happy then which makes for a win-win case.  Moral of the story is: Take some time to think of how you can solve your customers (and even their customers’) problems and make solving it a breeze.

    You’ve got technology at your disposal and the possibilities are endless!

    **We’ll be at the 2014 RMDC (Rocky Mountain Dental Convention) this January 23rd…  Do drop by to say hello and double your chance of winning a MacBook Air HERE

     

  2. How Do You Create a Great Customer Experience?

    "brand value"As promised, here’s part two from my previous post on Customer Experience.  This time, I will be writing about lessons I have learned in understanding what makes my customers tick.  Why is this even important? If you want to take real steps in improving your business and your bottom line, you have to go beyond what your company has to offer and take responsibility on delivering not just a great product – but that Wow! experience as well.  Just as I have mentioned how maintaining a consistent experience is the greatest challenge of them all, we still find ourselves stuck in our own way of doing things that we refuse to see past our mistakes and step in the shoes of our customers.  We forget that each person is different and each customer interacts differently with our brand.

    Not All Touch Points are Created Equal

    If there’s a top rule in Customer Service, it’s summed up in two words: Be Nice.  There is a reason why I propose that customer satisfaction metrics be revamped.  Here’s the thing: While big data on customer experiences collected at various touch points may be helpful in portraying a graph on consumer behavior, not all touch points are of equal value.  Let’s say we have two customers, one inquiring by phone and the other, by email.  While both touch points answer to your customers’ needs, they don’t define the same expectations that spells the difference between customer delight and dissatisfaction.  Their expectations can also be shaped by other factors like previous experience with your brand, your competition and so on.  CEOs can’t deny that customer experience is crucial in collecting, quantifying and analyzing data – Truth is, they don’t really appreciate the value of doing so, especially when CRMs are becoming more complex and costly these days.

    Customer Experience Lessons for the Fearless

    If there’s one truth about those who are not attuned to their customers’ experience, it’s FEAR.  There is this fear of what user data may reveal when you change gears and lead a customer-driven business.  To those who are holding back, here’s an eye-opener:

    Lesson #1  Everything is Linked

    Customer experience doesn’t only happen at touch points with your sales, marketing or customer service teams.  There are those that happen after sales and word of mouth can also indirectly impact customers’ decisions.  All they have to do is Google your brand online.

    Lesson #2  You are What You Deliver

    It’s all about delivering your promise across the entire customer life-cycle.  Negative experiences can easily kill your brand value.  Before you know it, all those bad reviews about your brand piles up – turning future prospects off.

    Lesson #3  It’s All About the Culture!

    Leaders, be a perfect example on how to delight customers.. and the rest will follow.  Don’t expect your front liners to put the customer first each time when you don’t do it yourself.  How can you align your business goals to your employees.. and eventually, your customers?  It’s high time to build customer experience into your brand.

    Lesson #4  One Size Doesn’t Fit All

    Making your customers happy don’t have to cost a dime.  Sometimes, it’s those little words that count – like saying ‘Thank You’ for their business.  For the same reason that you have to ditch that call script, customer experience should always be authentic and personalized.

    Lesson #5  Less is More

    I’d rather have the right data than a clutter of information that can overwhelm both your team and your customers.  How can you make customer interaction simple?  For example, you can reduce wait time of a customer in an IVR queue and make it faster for them to reach you with a few buttons.  Your customers love it easy and simple.

    If there’s a cause for concern, it’s this:  Customer dissatisfaction is real and thanks to online tools, customers are empowered to share their bad experience with others.  The challenge now is to take customer experience from just a mere buzzword, a slogan.. to real, actionable goals.  For what it’s worth, I’m sharing these lessons to raise your awareness.

    Are you willing to elevate customer experience and commit for the long term?

  3. Customer Experience: Delighting Your Customers in the Digital Age

    "customer experience"Last time, I have asked about how big data can save lives and this time, I’d like to touch the subject of customer data as your next best ally when it comes to moving your business forward.  The key to making this strategy succeed lies with customer service – more specifically, Customer Experience.  Learn that communication with customers have won them over call scripts each time someone asks for help.  These customers want to feel that you care about their requests and that they’re treated as individuals; not some bunch of numbers on your list.  No matter how big or small they may be spending on your products or services, it’s their experience with your brand that makes a lasting impression.  So, why are we still failing in the art of conversation?

    Customer Experience for the Uninitiated

    You can find lots of definition about it.  Customer experience is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier (Wikipedia).  The challenge is how to meet customers’ expectations to make sure that they will have a positive experience with your brand.  For this, businesses support it with their sales, marketing and customer service departments to make sure that customer issues are resolved at every touch point.  This is why we see customer loyalty programs that turn into a valuable resource of customer intelligence, of knowing what to improve to adapt your offer to their preferences.  Still, there is this huge gap in providing a seamless service and plotting customer’s intent to purchase.  That’s where things start to get complex.  How do you deal?

    A Fatal Attraction With Numbers

    I can’t believe that there are still those who are running call centers on call scripts – because they’re missing out on opportunities to do more business with their customers.  This is the age of dialogue and it amazes me how many companies are getting it wrong.  Even the C-suite don’t get the reasoning behind a poor customer experience.  With all the training that management can provide about delivering that Wow! factor in customer experience – the message don’t match the intent.  We still see products that are too complicated, fine print that leaves people scratching their heads, promotions that don’t match reality, rude customer service.  All those metrics we measure on customer satisfaction have made us obsessed with numbers and the more we do, the less we feel respect for the very blood where our business thrives.  Those analytics are working against our capacity for empathy.

    The Price of Efficiency

    Standardization of processes are done to minimize waste and maximize efficiency, no doubt.  While this may work in the production line, with computers and machines replacing the human assembly line – the same principle may bite you in the hand if you implement it in your front line.  To provide your customers with consistent, compelling experiences is a huge task.  It’s not just about responding quickly to customer requests that will win them over, but it’s also about making each customer interaction highly personalized.  It’s leading from bottom to the top which will define your brand’s value and profitability.

    Next time, I will share with you essential lessons to learn when it comes to delivering top-notch customer experience.

    For now, I’d say.. “Ditch that Script!”

    -End of Part One-

  4. Emotional Engagement: The Biggest Social ROI Driver

    "social media engagement"We’ve heard lots of social media gurus talk about the topic of engagement and yet, this concept is veiled in the clouds of vagueness.  People share and discover content online.  Why do they take that action?  This is still a mystery yet to be solved.  Maybe, it’s all about perceptions that make something viral on the Social Web.. but then again, maybe the answer lies closely to the heart.  Someone told me that no amount of marketing can help if your message doesn’t pack a punch.  If your brand message is the virus, you need to create a strong emotional connection to make your audience spread the word.

    The Business of Getting Social Debunked

    It isn’t really a surprise to me hearing that Romney has lost the presidential raceWhy?  I’ve watched him spar with wits and words against President re-elect BarrackObama and Romney’s awkward social skills have been his very downfall.  Even this post will agree with me that the masses saw his agenda a bit.. questionable.  While many social media marketers will tell you to hang out where everyone is, I’d say you’re just wasting time if you aren’t being social.  See the difference?  By socializing, I meant participating and adding value to online conversations that resonate with how your target audience feels.  If you don’t share something that they care about, they will most unlikely care for your brand.

    Customer Experience is the New Marketing

    Our digital lives are twisted into one giant map of interconnected railways, subways.. in the hope of building better relationships that will help drive people to our business sales funnel.  How can you shift that focus to your advantage?  How can you create content that will gain attention, engage emotions and get stuck in their memory?  By allowing people to interact with your brand in a much personalized way is the first step you can take.  The more people feel you have something relevant to share, the more likely they will remember your site.  It’s not news when studies show that emotional impact drives the greatest ROI.

    Because We are Humans..

    With this statement in mind, the next time you think of a viral campaign or a content strategy for your brand – think of creative concepts that are unique and memorable.  I’m not a social media marketing expert, but my experience helps me come up to a conclusion, that to stand out from the crowd, you simply need to be a brand.. with a heart.  Should you experiment then?  By all means, yes.  Test what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.  Learn from your mistakes, listen to your crowd and allow them to participate in the process.  What will make them tick?  Identify what will interest them the most so you can create content that will push the envelope and deliver a message worth sharing.

    It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

    ** Need More? You might want to check out my previous post, What Social Media Marketers Won’t Tell You ( But You Need to Know )

  5. Does Your Business Really Need to Be Mobile?

    "mobile business"The age of mobile is here.  More people are owning smartphones and other types of mobile devices.  They’re checking websites online to stay connected.  Now, the real question is: Do you have a mobile-friendly site where they can check you out to see what you have to offer?  Most probably, not.  It still amazes me how many small businesses are over-looking this matter, that they’re missing lots of chances to connect with their target mobile users.  It’s not just about building better business relationships, but it’s also about increasing connectivity.  How convenient do you make it for people-on-the-go to find you on their devices?

    The Mobile Gold Rush You Simply Can’t Ignore

    You’ll find plenty of stats on the subject of mobility and the mobile consumer.  Did you know that more than five billion own mobile phones worldwide?  The number of Google searches on mobile devices increased dramatically by 500% and Google predicts that by 2016, mobile searches will outdo PC searches on local search ( Google 2012 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research ).  For those in the travel, restaurant and auto industry – it’s definitely good news that 50% of mobile queries result in a purchase (  2012 Telmetrics Survey ).  In fact, early last year, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, reported a spike in download of travel apps.  I bet there are plenty more to add to this list and one thing’s clear: People are looking for mobile solutions… so how can businesses create a better connection, stay efficient and increase sales?  Simple – provide value and better user experience.

    More than Changing How the World Shops

    There are many reasons why you need a mobile site for your business.  In fact, it’s a hot topic these days and I only have to thank Marsha Collier for sharing with me Google’s Howtogomo.com test to see how my website looks on a mobile phone.  It will also ask you a couple of questions and give you a free report on the mobile-friendliness of your site.  Now, many have been asking if they should go for a mobile version of their site or build an app instead.  I guess, the apps market is a bit fragmented and for now, going for mobile site is a better investment.  While it is important to put usability in mind when it comes to site navigation,  it’s always crucial to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and identify which information they will need the most.  It’s not just about mobility, but a simplified browsing experience that will push them to buy.

    Your Business Needs a Mobile Strategist

    Yes, mobile technology may seem complex and those who are still trying to cope up with social media tools are already scratching their heads in confusion.  But these myriad of new inventions are here to stay – from location/content-based apps, mobile payments to augmented reality.  How do you manage the mobile eco-system?  When your business moves in the speed of mobile, you will need someone to create a balance between mobile functionality and user needs.  This person will implement your business goals objectively, making sure that mobile projects are profitable as well as intuitive.  S/he will discover new challenges and opportunities in the mobile landscape, to understand consumer behavior and lifestyle as major players in their decision-making process.

    Are you ready to take your mobile strategy seriously this time?

  6. What Makes Your Customer Service Exceptional?

    "customer experience"Whenever I meet a small business owner, I’m often tempted to ask if their business have a ‘soul’ –  that is, if they are customer-centric.  There’s no denying that people are demanding world class customer service these days and where loyalty is at stake, it only makes perfect sense to come up with effective means of improving customer satisfaction scores by investing in training for your front-line or virtual team.  Marketing professionals make the mistake of mixing up customer loyalty and customer experience, and this can come at a high cost — your brand reputation.  The problem why many programs won’t work is that loyalty is more about relationships and though they may appreciate all those discounts, freebies and perks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will buy more.

    Redefining Your Customer Touch Point

    Someone mentioned that it’s five times more costly to get a new customer than keep new ones.  If that’s the case, why do businesses lose the good ones?  Perhaps, achieving high levels of customer service is a myth?  But then, we hear brands like Southwest Airlines who keep customer service at its finest.. thousands of miles above the ground.  I bet that what worked for them is not only creating superior value for customers to buy, but making customers feel valued.  The more you customize the experience, the closer you get at building that relationship many have been blogging about.  Customers are not just some number on your balance sheet, your score cards.  You may be proactive in taking steps to improve satisfaction rate and at the end of the day, it’s more than just doing business in order to generate revenue.

    The Fundamentals of Creating a World-Class Customer Experience

    I have been an avid participant in this weekly twitter chat that talks about customer service, and it’s an amazing source of insights and best practices from key influencers and folks who are passionate about the subject. The #custserv chat happening every Tuesday nights at 9-10 pm is something you might want to add on your to-do list where getting social is concerned.  I’ve been itching to ask if they can name one important component of what makes an awesome customer service and I think, the answer will vary a lot.  I believe that training your front-liners is crucial to your company’s success and the challenge is how to make them feel this sense of purpose.  To motivate your team is one thing, to make them enthusiastic in giving out a one-and-done resolution to your customers is another.  It will all start with the passion to help..

    The Makings of a Transcendent Customer Support Revealed

    I recall someone asking me weeks ago on what makes a good customer-centric website and here’s the best way I can answer that question: It’s not about where your customers intend to do business with you that matters, but how available you are when they need your help.  Investing in a good website may help lessen the amount of phone time or the load of tickets you get each day in your inbox. It will come down to a customer-friendly website that’s easy to navigate, easy to read, updated, understandable and most importantly – complete.  This is why I would recommend entrepreneurs to invest in developing a good website that doesn’t look like some free blog template tweaked for the sake of keeping an online presence.  Besides, there’s no point creating an interface for your customers to interact with when your site gives them a crappy experience.  That means dabbling in some codes or hiring someone to do it for you.

    Then, all you have to focus on is listening to your customers so you can build conversations with them that create trust over time.  And by talk, I mean going beyond the typical ‘yes/no’ type of questions.

    Are you ready to engage now?