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Welcome to the October 2019 edition of ‘Terrific Tips’ delivered to your desktop free each month.

In this edition we continue to focus on examples of how good design can positively influence people and share further enlightening research on customer behaviour. You will also find practical examples of customer friendly signage and customer friendly selling techniques. And you get the opportunity to view two insightful, inspirational video clips containing great messages for whatever you set out to achieve. 

Getting a customer’s perspective – part two

In last month’s Getting a customer’s perspective of your business article, Ian Sadler laid out the six reasons why insight6’s UK shoppers love certain retail brands. He has since shared the results of an independent survey of nearly 4,000 people about the customer service they’ve received from UK retailers, and discovered sharp differences between sectors. It makes for interesting reading.

Airlines, telecoms and energy providers came out worst overall. 

While I wasn’t surprised to see First Direct coming out top, it was quite amazing to read that UK “Banks were the best sector for customer service in several areas: customers gave the category the best ratings for staff knowledge, attitude and helpfulness. As a sector, banks were second-most likely to make their customers feel valued, after opticians.”

Here in Australia, I just couldn’t imagine a result like that in my lifetime. Aussie banks are more likely to be described in the terms used for the UK’s worst provider of customer service – Ryanair. 

“When presented with a choice of 50 words to describe it, most of Ryanair’s passengers opted for ‘greedy’, ‘sneaky’ and ‘arrogant’, with one going as far as to say: ‘Ryanair seems to make things deliberately difficult in order to make more money out of its customers.”

Now that sounds to me like a word-perfect description of Australia’s big four banks!

Read more about the Which UK survey.

Appreciating the lifetime value of your customers

Following the Lifetime Value of a Customer article in your July Terrific Tips, long time reader Dean Scott got in touch to share an example which demonstrates the importance of focussing on this important measure.

For many years Dean owned a successful newsagency in Subiaco, selling the business last year, and is now the Western Australian General Manager for the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association. Thanks to Dean for allowing me to share his great example with you:

“Every business has at least one customer that is a ‘Pain In The Ass’ (PITA), but how well do you know them and what is their value to your business?

“As a retailer, one particular customer came in every Sunday to pick up his Lotto winnings and buy his Lotto for the coming week. He’d buy extra tickets for super draws and jackpots. However, he was a ‘PITA’ and I dreaded having to spend 20 minutes or more listening to his very strong opinions on everything. He would continue talking while I served other customers.

“One day I read an article on ‘The Lifetime Value of a Customer’. I multiplied the $94 per week he spent by 52 weeks in the years and then multiplied that by the 5 years he’d been coming in. This customer had already spent more than $25,000 in my store, including the extras for jackpots and super draws.

“My attitude towards this customer changed overnight. When he next came in, rather than allow him to preach to me all his opinions, I asked him questions, and this enabled me to get to know him so much better. 

“I am sure he noticed the change in my attitude and with the development of our relationship I was able to ‘train’ him how to behave in my shop. It did not take long until I welcomed his visits and conversation. 

“Eight years later, I sold my business knowing that this one customer spent over $70,000 (and many hours) in my shop over 13 years.

“Had I not changed my attitude I would have pushed this customer away from my business and lost thousands of dollars in revenue. Take time to get to know your customers, build relationships and reap the reward.”

The Lesson: There’s a wonderful lesson in Dean’s case study, isn’t there? Whatever industry or profession you are in, it’s a great one to share and discuss with your team.

Is technology improving the customer experience?

Businesses are missing the mark with their investment in technology to enhance the customer experience according to a survey of 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers across Northern Europe, USA and Australia.

More than 60 percent of consumers polled feel that businesses do not do a good job of using their personal preferences to predict their needs.

As a result, many consumers – 61 percent – feel that the brands that should know them, simply don’t – even lacking in the most basic areas of customer knowledge, such as purchase history and personal preferences. 

An example of this occurred in our office earlier this week when Gwen, our Organisational Goddess, phoned up Telstra’s Small Business Support line with a query about our bill. As she was transferred and asked questions by one polite, friendly yet totally inadequate person after another I heard her say (louder each time!) “I’ve given you our account number, please get Terrific Trading’s details up on screen before you ask me any more questions.” 

She was doing so because she was being asked unnecessary questions. The operator would have seen how many mobile phones, landlines etc should be appearing on our bill and what plan we were on, if they just got Terrific Trading’s history up on their screen.

The 16-page report emphasises that Telstra isn’t alone with this behaviour and there is a major disconnect between what businesses are spending on marketing technology and the experiences they’re delivering to customers like you and me.

Source: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019 by Acquia

Good design influences behaviour – part two

Your September 2019 Terrific Tips included an example of how good design can encourage recycling. Here are two examples of design being used to improve road safety. This is an area I find fascinating because the standard approach used by government authorities is to increase fines and increase the number of demerit points issued to motorists.

Since 2008 the deaths of pedestrians in traffic have increased 41 percent, with more than 6,000 fatalities per year. Though there are many causes – unlit and unsafe road crossings and reckless drivers might make the bigger part of it – and many countries have different ways of dealing with this, Iceland has one of the most creative solutions for road safety.

In the small fishing town of Ísafjörður, Iceland, a rather different development in pedestrian crossing safety has recently popped up – almost literally. A new kind of speed bumps has been painted that appears to be 3D by way of a cleverly-detailed optical illusion.

Not only does the innovative design give foot-travelers the feeling of walking on air, but the 3D painting also gets the attention of drivers, who slow down their speed once they spot the seemingly floating ‘zebra stripes.’ 

Icelandic environmental commissioner Ralf Trylla called for its placement in Ísafjörður after seeing a similar project being carried out in New Delhi, India. With the help of a street painting company, his vision of pedestrian crossing signs became a reality.

In their illuminating book, ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s give another successful example from the shores of Lake Michigan.

“The curve at Lake Shore Drive and Oak Street in Chicago is a favorite nudge. The tight turn makes it one of the city’s most dangerous curves. To try and limit wrecks, in September 2006 the city painted a series of white lines perpendicular to traveling cars. The lines get progressively narrower as drivers approach the sharpest point of the curve, giving them the illusion of speeding up, and nudging them to tap their brakes.”

The authors go on to report, “According to an analysis conducted by city traffic engineers, there were 36 percent fewer crashes in the six months after the lines were painted compared to the same 6-month period the year before.”

Sources: Bored Panda and the Nudge blog

Time management tip

This comes from Bill Phillips former head of Ogilvy & Mather: "Whatever you're doing, you should have started sooner" 

Steve Jobs – think different

Prepare to be enlightened and inspired. Here are two video clips for you. The first 1-minute clip honours people who ‘Think Different’.

The 7-minute follow up is the story behind the ‘Think Different’ video clip as told by Steve Jobs. While the quality of the video is not great, the quality of the content is superb as this genius explains brand marketing, core values and thinking differently.

Understanding what you are selling

Here’s another lesson from Apple. Back in October 2001 Apple first launched the iPod. 

It's hard to remember how different the world of computing and portable devices was in 2001. There was no Facebook or Twitter, no apps, no iPhone, no Netflix. The world was a very different place.

Apple could have talked about the five-gigabyte storage capacity or other technical features like all the other manufacturers of music players of the day did. But instead, how did they promote it?

“1,000 songs in your pocket”

Genius! Five gigabytes doesn’t mean a thing to most people. Neither does a bunch of technical jargon, but “1,000 songs in your pocket”, anyone can instantly understand that and the benefits it will offer.

The iPod was by no means the first portable MP3 on the market or even the best. But they were by far the most successful because of their ability to quickly convey the reasons why you should buy.

Sources: The complete history of Apple’s iPod and Allan Dib, author of ‘The 1-page Marketing Plan’ 

What message do your signs give?

It’s always fascinating to view the world through the customer’s eyes and become aware of how businesses make us feel.

When visiting an attraction, venue, restaurant or store notice the part that the signage plays in your experience.

For example, I couldn’t help but smile as my eyes were drawn to the customer friendly sign in the accompanying photo as I entered Dawsons Garden World in Forrestfield, Western Australia. The feeling would be very different if the sign said, ‘Dogs must be on a lead’.

If your business welcomes customers onto the premises it is likely that you will have signage advising people what not to do and what they should do. Take a fresh look at your signage. If any of the signs are negative ask your team for ideas on how to make the signage more customer friendly. Involving the team makes it a lot of fun and well worth the effort.

We regularly work with clients to review their signage and wherever possible put it in a more positive light. It’s something I have spoken about in previous issues of your Terrific Tips newsletter including this short article titled, Are your signs agitating, helping or confusing your customers?

Would you like snail bait with that?

Add on selling, companion selling, related selling, suggestive selling. No matter what label you use, it works.

I was reminded of this when discussing the topic with some garden centre people recently – people who didn’t want to appear pushy to their customers, many of whom were regulars. I recounted to them an occasion when my colleague, Jan Collins, was doing some training and coaching with a group of garden centres.

Jan had the challenging task of improving the sales skills of this successful group of garden centres. She started off with an evening seminar for all the employees to cover in broad terms the key selling skills that can help make a difference. This was to be followed up by one to one coaching with staff members in the outlets of this group of garden centres.

Things were going well at the seminar until Jan got on to the topic of add on selling. This is when the resistance set in.  These dedicated people did not want to appear pushy. They were happy to give product knowledge and advice but did not feel that it was appropriate to recommend additional products.  It was up to the customer to make that decision in their view.

The breakthrough for Jan occurred from an unlikely source.  One of the ladies' present, who was certainly not a people person, said “Well, I always tell them to get snail pellets and a growing agent when they purchase plants from me.  I don’t want them going home and killing my plants!”

While everyone had a laugh about her attitude she did get the point across. It was clear that they were doing their customers a disservice if they did not recommend to them that they purchase the appropriate support products.

During the next phase of the training, Jan was working with staff in the garden centres at a time when they had a promotion on for punnets of seedlings. To read more click on Would you like snail bait with that? Or go to our Retail Insights blog.

Humour – never assume

A young engineer was leaving the office at 5.45 p.m. when he found the CEO standing in front of the shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary is not here. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young engineer. He turned on the machine, inserted the paper and pressed the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine, “I just need one copy.”

Lesson: Never, ever assume that your boss understands technology.

Terrific quotes

“If you actually believe that it’s impossible to achieve customer loyalty, you won’t even try. You’ll give up, get resentful, blame your customers, or lack of customers, for your lack of success…and that’s the beginning of the end. You’ll never solve a problem that you don’t first take ownership of.” Donald Cooper

“Understanding isn’t enough to create customer loyalty. You must also ‘facilitate’ good memories in your customers’ minds regarding the experience.” Colin Shaw and Ryan Hamilton authors of The Intuitive Customer.

“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

Have a wonderful month.

Jurek Leon

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