No Matter Where Technology Takes Us, Clients Still Need a Human Touch

No Matter Where Technology Takes Us, Clients Still Need a Human Touch

If you’re aiming for omni-channel excellence, or simply looking to thrive on your channels of choice, don’t forget about the human side. In fact, it should be your first priority. With every new trend and communication channel comes new opportunities to connect, so it’s natural for marketers to seek out the most promising tools for the job. The challenge is that every trend has an expiration date, and it’s too easy to sacrifice the fundamentals in favor of the hot, new tool with an unknown shelf-life.

The process of building a seamless, positive consumer experience starts from within, and should affect your business at every level. If you’re not on the same page internally, it’s impossible to provide the type of experience that transcends channels.

Consumers care less about channel than you think


The experience of the consumer is not defined by the channel that they use to engage, because for most people a channel is a means to an end. They want to contact customer service, learn more about a special offer, air their grievances, or maybe even make sure that an especially helpful employee receives full credit for a job well done. Whether they do this through Facebook, Twitter, your mobile app or a fax machine, their goal is to complete a task – even if that task simply happens to be exploring what your brand has to offer in an open-ended way.

Appearing in the right places is important, but it’s only a step on the path to the larger goal of forging real relationships with your customers. Just as importantly, consumers expect a seamless experience regardless of the channel they use to establish contact. That’s where the internal cohesiveness of your organization is really put under the spotlight. A customer’s question or concern doesn’t always fit into a predetermined box. They just want help from someone, regardless of title or channel.

If sales, marketing, and customer service aren’t working from the same basic foundation, an omni-channel experience remains out of reach. This includes sharing key data. But even then, the goal of sharing data is to provide a personalized, human experience no matter what technology the consumer uses to initiate contact. It’s also important that everyone works from the same set of values whether we’re talking about pure customer service, dispute resolution or targeted, personalized marketing.

Being human boosts your appeal in any channel


It all comes back to one of my favorite topics, and it’s something that is within grasp no matter the size of your business. Just be human. Every interaction with a customer is a chance to build brand loyalty, make a positive impression, and over time turn that customer into an enthusiastic advocate for your brand. The little moments where you go above and beyond are often the most memorable for your customers, such as:

  • A near-immediate response to a pressing question on your social page
  • A few extra minutes on the phone to make sure an issue is resolved thoroughly
  • Remembering the names, faces, and preferences of people who visit your small business regularly
     

You may use new and evolving tools to make those things happen, but the tool is secondary to the moment it helps create. There’s also much to be gained by preaching customer service across the board, because the customer’s channel of choice won’t always lead to the point of contact they’re “supposed” to reach. With digital channels, everyone who represents your company publicly may become the face of your brand for a customer in need. Prioritize customer service, be human, and put the focus on people first, channel second.

This first appeared on http://tedrubin.com/http://tedrubin.com/.

Ted Rubin
Marketing
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Ted Rubin is a leading Social Media Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO for Brand Innovators. In March 2009, Ted started using and evangeli ... Click for full bio

Advisors: How to Prepare Before Calling an Agency

Advisors: How to Prepare Before Calling an Agency

Written by: 

You’ve read my other posts:

Related: Should You Work with a Marketing or PR Agency, or Neither?

Related: There's No Point in Paying for Outside Advice If You Have No Intention of Listening to It

And you’re finally ready to talk to a marketing or PR agency.

Or are you?

I’m amazed how many prospects contact an agency without any advance preparation whatsoever. It’s not just that they don’t know what services the agency offers. The real issue is, they can’t even explain why they’re calling in the first place.

You might be raising an eyebrow at my suggestion that you actually need to prepare before calling a vendor. Don’t. I want to help you maximize your time, and potential investment.

Here’s why: The best way to use a vendor’s time during an initial call is to conduct a mini-discovery session. At FiComm, we will ask: What is your vision for your business? How do your services address your market’s needs? Where are you headed as a company? What will get you to the next level? What marketing obstacles do you face? That information shapes our remarks, ensuring that everything we say will be directly relevant to you.

Many advisors find those initial conversations enormously valuable in their own right. They help clarify their thinking. But others feel put on the spot. They freeze. They respond in standard brochure-speak: “We were founded in 1984, we have four advisors, we serve 200 households with an average account size of $400,000.”

Or they say, “We were hoping you would tell us the answers to those questions.”

Well, that’s helpful.

Imagine you’re meeting a potential wealth management client for the first time. They have $700,000 in a brokerage account, $400,000 in a retirement account, two kids, a dog and a house in L.A. Great. You start by asking their goals for themselves, their money, and their family.

Puzzled, they tilt their heads and say, “We were hoping you would tell us.”

See what I mean? How can you possibly come up with a solution for clients who can’t even articulate their goals, or speak to their financial pain points?

The same is true for us vendors. Before we can help you, we need to know where your business is going and how you think marketing can help you get there. The answers don’t have to be “right” (and we’ll help you get there), but it you come prepared to participate, our conversations can be very fruitful. If you don’t—well, it’s hard to deliver value for you. We know we’ll constantly have to prove ourselves and remind you why you hired us.

“But, Megan,” some advisors say, “we’re not ready for that. We’re just trying to understand the basics. How will we learn if you don’t tell us?”

If you’re calling an agency just to get a general marketing education, then that’s what you’ll get—general information, most of it irrelevant to you, and lacking the specifics you’re really looking for.

So, don’t call an agency to be your marketing tutor. Instead, read. Advisors have never had better access to self-help insights and information—through trade pubs, custodian relationships, blogs, podcasts, other advisors and industry pundits. Be curious. Be inquisitive. If you hear something on a podcast that intrigues you, follow the host back to LinkedIn. Read what they write there. Email your questions. Attend a webinar. Be an active participant at industry events.

At some point, you’ll understand the basics. You’ll have identified your own issues. And narrowed down your questions. Then, finally, you’ll be ready to call an agency.

Instead of saying, “Tell us what we need,” you’ll say, “We need help with this.

Megan Carpenter
Marketing
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Megan is CEO & Co-Founder at FiComm Partners, LLC. Her team develops winning communications strategies for entrepreneurs in the independent advisory community, and busines ... Click for full bio