Monthly Archives: July 2013

Stating the Blindingly Obvious?

As a customer, don’t you find it infuriating when the systems don’t work? confused

Doesn’t it frustrate you when the system doesn’t follow through on its promise?

Doesn’t it confuse you when you follow the steps you’ve been asked to, only to reach a dead end?

I’m sure we’ve all experienced these emotions, and it’s what was happening to me last week when renewing an insurance policy.  So does any of this ever happen to your customers?

Here are my thoughts on 5 things to check in your business to ensure all your dots join up….

Now you might think I’m stating the blindingly obvious, but if they were that obvious why do so many of us encounter these situations as a customer?


1. Check the instructions you give your customers are clear

If you want them to call you, is the phone number obvious, when is the best time to call, what department or person do they ask for when they get through. If your office is only manned at certain times of the day, let your customers know this so they don’t have wasted calls (and even if they do call ensure your recorded message states when you are available).

If you’re leaving a message for someone to call you back all of the above applies, but in addition call from a number where they can do call back, rather than having to write down your number. And if you can’t avoid calling from a withheld number (although why you’d want do this always baffles me) or have to give a different number to return your call please state it clearly, not gabble at 100 mph so they have to listen to the message 10 times to get the number right.

If you want them to email is your email address obvious, and if they need to go online is the link obvious (including which page on your site they need to go to)?

Include the same information in all correspondence – if customers know they’ve seen the info somewhere, don’t expect them to go back and hunt through all you’ve sent them to find the relevant email, letter or document.


2. Web addresses and links

We’re all familiar with the Error message. Take customers to this point and it’s all too easy to give up and go elsewhere….

Customers really don’t want to have to pick up the phone once they’ve started to process or search online, but it might be the only option if they reach a dead end.

Check links work and do actually take you to the right page on your site (or others).

Bear in mind if you’re referring website visitors to third party sites they might update their site without telling you, so do periodical checks.

Work through all the steps. Are the next stages always blatantly obvious? You might know what to do next or where to click, so ask someone else who is not so familiar to test out all your web navigation. And if you’ve problems with your website, please have the courtesy to tell your customers rather than continuing to direct them to a link that does not work (yes, I know this sounds obvious, but this is exactly what happened to me on Friday!)


3. How user friendly is your automated phone system?

Are all options covered? If you allocate specific numbers for different departments, do these go directly to that department or do they all end up with the same long list of irrelevant options?  What about your existing loyal customers; can they get directly through to the relevant person allowing them to bypass the automated options?


4. Be consistent

If you ask your customers to do one thing one way in one context, keep this consistent throughout, so you don’t confuse your customers.

One example that particularly comes to mind is the terminology you use. If you have industry jargon explain it if you need to, but then make sure your definition stays the same throughout. If customers need a passcode or membership number or a login, ask for it in the same way each time and maybe remind people of the format. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember 101 different sets of login details, but if I reminded of the format, such as it’s a 6 digit number, or a memorable word, or my email address I can usually work it out. When I can’t work it out is when it’s referred to as a password at one point, then a memorable word elsewhere, or a user id at one point and my email address somewhere else.


5. Look at your systems regularly

Look at your systems regularly by tracing your customers’ journey, looking at everything from your customers’ perspective. Involve your team in this process; they spot things you won’t, particularly if you ask them to review processes they aren’t directly involved with; they’ll see things from a different perspective.

Train your team to spots glitches, to listen to and acknowledge customer feedback, and give them the authority to put things right. It’s often the simplest little things that aren’t so obvious to the customer (or have simply not been thought through on our part) such as: who to speak to on arrival, where to pay, what to do with discarded packaging (nowhere to put spent teabags in hotels is my real bugbear!), where can I park, etc, etc.


If you get asked about these things or customers get it wrong, it’s not that they are stupid…. It means you haven’t made it blindingly obvious!

Join me on my next webinar monthly webinar on Thursday 8th August.  This month I’ll be sharing 6 simple strategies for inspiring and engaging your team to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

For more information and to register go to


Know your Customers

Speaking at the Tourism Society Annual Conference this week, the theme for our session was compete and the title for my section “The 5 secrets of success for SMEs”.

There were 101 ideas I could have shared, so honing this down to my just 5 was a challenge. I’ve picked just one of these for today’s blog post, “Know Your Customers”

Unless you have a clear picture in your mind of your customer it’s nigh on impossible to meet expectations, let alone exceed them.

Love your customers

I’m sure we all have customers who we dread doing business with. You know the one’s – they’re hard work and earn you little profit, and at times can suck you of all your energy and enthusiasm. And when we don’t enjoy working with certain people it’s not only dispiriting for us, it’s generally evident in some way for the customer too.

So focus on the customers you do what!

The idea for some business owners of effectively turning away any customer can be a daunting one. But think about it; if you expel all your energies on the ‘wrong’ customers if we’re not careful we don’t have enough time, energy or resources to serve those who are our ideal.

And the more you ‘love’ your customers, the more interest you’ll show in them, the more you can be yourself and the better you’ll serve them.


Define who they are

So once you’ve determined the customers you like to attract, the more detail you have to define them the easier it will be for you to attract them. How does this work? Well for a start you’ll start to spot your perfect customers (a bit like when you hear your name mentioned in a room full of people your ears prick up, or you’re so aware if someone is wearing the same tie or dress as you, or has the same car).

Your reticular activating system is the part of your brain that filters information coming through your senses and highlights things that are relevant to you; in this case your ideal customers. The clearer you are on whom they are the more effective this filter will work!

Once you have your perfect customers in mind it will be a whole to easier for them to find you too. It’ll be easier to communicate with them using their language and you’ll know where you need to be for them to find you. (Any business who tries to appeal to everyone will have a hard time doing this.)


Build a relationship

Once you’re talking their language it will be so much easier to engage with your customers, get their attention and start to build a relationship. We all know people like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Engaging with your customers before they actually start to do business with you means they’ll be far more receptive to buy when the time comes.

There are plenty of ways to do this; the language you use on your website, the tone and messages in your blog, responding to discussions or mentions on social media, the way you deal with enquiries, confirmation of bookings or orders, sharing useful information, tips and before they buy, being accessible to answer queries, asking questions to identify what they want (more on this in a moment…).

And the more you build the relationship beforehand the easier it will be to ascertain their needs so you can meet these and exceed them.


What’s important

Never assume you know what your ideal customer wants! You might know what they need, but if they don’t recognise this too you’ll have a hard time trying to convince them until you’ve met their wants. And the only way to do this is to ask!

Now, I do recognise that if we always wait for our customers to tell us what they want we’d have little opportunity to innovate or develop new offers. So the other way to approach this is to find out what needs they are trying to satisfy and then innovate to find a way to satisfy this need. And if it’s impossible to satisfy all their needs, then ask them to prioritise. For example, is price more important than quality? Is time/speed/convenience more important than price? Is quality more important than choice? Break the mould if you have to meet these priorities.

Bear in mind the same customers may place a higher priority on different things at different times. Time of day/year, who they are with, what stage they are at in the buying cycle, and so on.

The clearer your picture of what your customer is trying to achieve or what need they want to meet the easier to will be to meet this. And the more we’re able to tailor or personalise to meet specific customer situation the more they’ll appreciate it and the better their experience.


So here we have four considerations to getting to know your customers better so you can not only meet their expectations, but exceed them too.

If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation from the Tourism Society Conference you can view it here