Tag Archives: customers

Trust – Fancy Website or Human Voice

11 Oct

A great comment from Barry Moltz:

“Many years ago small businesses wanted to appear large so customers would trust them. They produced fancy stationery and secured a respectable business address. This has all changed with the Internet, where customers value the human voice. Now every business wants to appear small and provide personal service to its customers.”

And I agree.  I was quite happy to stop the renewal order of new stationery and envelopes and instead spent it on a better website.  But still recognized that a website wasn’t enough, that customers expected a contact link that included phone and address.  It was acceptable that the address wasn’t local as long as there was a viable address.  More importantly was ensuring the phone was answered by a person instead of an automated system.  At my small companies, everyone was the receptionist because the call rang to everyone if the frontline people were otherwise engaged.

The next level of trust that customers are looking for includes customer ratings.  Think what eBay, Amazon and others started to ensure customer feedback is reflected back to prospects.  Having peer ratings for Inquisix referrals was a key point to the system.

To build trust in today’s market, make it easy for the customer to research and buy your offerings.  No more paper or offices but a well-designed website, a human answering the phone and trust ratings from customers are the new trust factors.

Can I Date Your Sister?

10 Jul

Very nice article by Michael Katz about why asking your clients for referrals is a bad idea. His analogy is that asking customers for referrals is like someone asking you if they can date your sister. As I’ve written before, I agree about not asking your customers for referrals and instead ask them to be references.

Michael sends out an e-newsletter focused on writing better e-newsletters. You can read why Michael feels the same way I do about customers and referrals here. If you’d like to listen to the newsletter instead, click here.

And why a penguin below? Because Michael’s company is called Blue Penguin Development.

penguin_standing

Use Customers for References Not Referrals

16 Feb

Two recent postings by Jan Visser and Paul McCord got me thinking about how to best use customers to increase your business. As the chart from eMarketer below says, business decisions are heavily influenced by colleagues’ word-of-mouth. Naturally, sales people try to get referrals from their customers to gain new ones. After all, they’re the best referral you can get! But as Paul pointed out, having your customer say, “Give so-and-so at this company a call and use my name” is often not much more than a cold call. Paul and I agree that it’s much better if they contact so-and-so and make the introduction directly. But they often won’t.

EmarketerChart

Why is this? Why won’t customers give you referrals? Or as Paul prefers to ask, “Why won’t customers make introductions for you?” There are several reasons but the primary one is that customers don’t really know how. It’s not in their DNA to voluntarily call someone up and tell them about your solution. However, they will respond to a request for feedback on your solution.

The chart says that the top influence on buying decisions is from colleagues. However, the chart does not suggest if the buyer received a call or made the call. I will bet that it’s the buyer making the call to their buddy, “Hey, do you have any thoughts on this product?” or “I have this problem, do you have any idea on how to solve it?” Since Customers often give references instead of making referrals, why not use them that way? If customers are uncomfortable making referrals/introductions then don’t use them that way. Get your referrals somewhere else and let your customer give the reference.

Expect your customers to receive calls on your behalf but not make them on your behalf.