Snatching failure from the jaws of success

Our accountant is part of a rare group of financial experts who actually understand the challenges and tribulations of small business owners like me.

He’s a member of our entrepreneurs group (that’s how we hooked up) and he’s made it his business to develop his service offering to meet the specific needs of his existing and prospective customers. When I talk with him about our financial performance it’s not a discussion restricted to invoice values and cash in the bank – rather he “gets” our marketing strategy, sales activity, operational challenges etc. which makes his input and recommendations much more valuable to me as a business owner.

So I paid attention recently when he blogged about the sales and service experience he’d received when deciding on the supplier for the new kitchen in his home. He, and his entire family, had been “hooked” into attending a Guildford kitchen showroom whilst a Michelin chef cooked dinner for 20 or so invited guests.

An intimate dining experience, for the retailers target audience.

They got to see how a professional chef works, sampled his food, and champagne from the team who were there to answer any questions and discuss specific needs – needless to say subliminal messages about creating an exquisite dining experience within one of the suppliers kitchens were planted.

18 months later my accountant was £5k lighter after placing a deposit for his new kitchen. For him and his family this promotional event had been a substantial success – he and his wife purchased the kitchen of their dreams and they hadn’t even dug the foundations for the planned extension yet.

As far as the kitchen supplier was concerned they ran a hugely successful event as part of a strategic marketing campaign – it probably cost around £3k to run for 20 people with at least one £40k sale confirmed (the margin on that sale most likely paid for the whole event anyway and left profit to boot) together with a load of additional leads and sales opportunities lined up.

Backs have been slapped and sales contracts signed – congratulations on a job well done!

Some weeks later however my accountant blogged again about the same retailer only this time his experience was a little different. He’d received a general marketing email from the retailer inviting him to “Request a Brochure”, “Find a Showroom” or “View their Kitchens”.

Strange communication given that he was now one of their premium customers – it got worse!

He received a second marketing email telling him to “Hurry – Sale Ends In 21 Days”.

Yes – the kitchen he’d purchased was now being promoted in a sale.

At this point I’m going to use my accountants own words to describe his thoughts and feelings at this point;
“As a customer who has committed to spending £40k then how would you feel if you received the above and thought you could save more?

(Database) segmentation is the first step in ‘speaking’ to your audience and if you get that right then you’re on the right line to building a profitable customer relationship. It’s the first step of the customer journey and that is something that every business owner should track. Touchpoints on your Customer Journey are important, but more often than not the wrong ones are measured. Like the email above that is probably working really well as open rates are souring.

But does (the kitchen retailer) track who is opening them, whether they are prospects or customers?

I guess not, otherwise I wouldn’t be sat here thinking I could save a few £££.”

So it’s a simple observation – all the positive results generated via a hugely successful marketing campaign to win new customers has been negatively impacted by omitting to update a client database to ensure subsequent messages are consistent and relevant to the recipient.

As we’ve said before – on average 84% of a customers decision to buy from us, and remain loyal to us, is based on how they FEEL about the service they receive. Having felt extremely special and positive during the sales process my accountant certainly has mixed feelings now.

So how many “holes” like this exist in your customer journey? Might be time to review and plug those gaps.

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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